Kind of like a Professor Layton game, Tokyo 13 is at once satisfying and frustrating. It offers a series of puzzles and riddles that will cause you to dig out a piece of paper to start writing down notes. And yes, it’ll infuriate at times. Perhaps even more so when you screw up, and subsequently find out that the answer was stupidly obvious. That’s where the fun lies, though. Even better, Tokyo 13 is the kind of game that doesn’t demand a crazy amount of your attention. Instead, you can just play for a little while in your work break, before coming back later on. There’s no need to check in frequently if you don’t want to.
The idea behind it is that you’re part of a sinister social network in Japan. It has you communicating with other users through a Facebook style interface, as you each work towards solving various riddles. It’s a simple system to learn because it’s so much like Facebook. The screen depicts a newsfeed, messages, and notices, meaning it’s clear where you need to go next.
You’re typically given an image or description, and told to figure out the solution. How hard you’ll find this frequently depends on how you think. For instance, one early puzzle has you needing to figure out the opposite of a string of words, before picking out the third letter from each of them. It’s not described as clearly though so, like I said, it’s all down to how you interpret the information. That’s also where Tokyo 13 is an ideal game to play with others. Getting your coworkers or a friend to take a look at a puzzle can take you a long way in terms of figuring out what’s going on.
Another useful advantage is Tokyo 13’s hints system. By watching a quick video, you can unlock a hint, giving you some insight into what to do next. The more you do it, the more clear the answer becomes, although sometimes you might still be stumped. Watching a video seems a fairly cost effective way of doing things, taking little time to do, and proving quite worthwhile.
As you work your way through the puzzles, you get to know new ‘users’ on the social network. You can have simple conversations with them via multiple choice answers and, of course, they throw more puzzles your way. After a time, you find yourself reasonably embroiled in the story. By looking fairly rudimentary, there’s no denying you’re playing a game rather than delving into a true social network, but the idea is a strong one. Things soon turn much darker and spookier.
At times, you’re going to be stumped. Even after you ask your friends, glean some hints, and generally sigh at your own failings. That’s about when you decide to veer off to an easier game for a bit. Then Tokyo 13 sticks in your head. You start wondering if you could approach a conundrum slightly differently. You only get so many chances at guessing the correct answer, but it’s worth taking that risk. And that is exactly how Tokyo 13 gets you. It gets under your skin, encouraging you to figure things out. Just how hard is it? Pretty hard actually, but you’ll enjoy finding it out for yourself.