Totem Tribe GOLD
In the beginning of Totem Tribe Gold players might feel a bit like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.” In fact, the game is not exactly a sequel to the original Totem Tribe, but rather an improvement of it with an impressive load of additional levels and features.
The storyline and basic gameplay of Totem Tribe Gold do not differ much from the original Totem Tribe. In fact, nearly all of the islands from the first part and the same plot are still included, meaning that you have to help Aruku, a young woman who is chief of the Hawk tribe, to restore peace and to lead her tribe to a better future. The storyline of the game alone makes it worth playing. Though a bit clichéd, the twists keep the player interested, and with additional plot lines for supporting characters like the witch or Guro you really begin to care for those virtual people.
By building huts, training grounds, archery ranges, scout lodges or barracks you develop your villages, recruit certain types of warriors, and research better weapons, skills, or equipment. On your journey you will visit various different islands. The ones players might already know from the original Totem Tribe have been revamped partially, and ten new levels have been added to the game. This might not sound that much at a first glance, but considering that one level in this game easily takes 30 to 60 minutes to be finished (even more in the most challenging cases) this addition offers significantly more playtime than other games. Tasks in Totem Tribe Gold include a variety of missions, puzzles, and searching for hidden objects, and this charming mixture already so well-known still works perfectly. On some islands you have to recruit a large army to defeat a hostile tribe, mysterious creatures like the shades, or pesky beetles. On other islands the pace of the game stays slower and there is no need to battle. There you often have to find various objects on the island and use them to progress in the game. Just as an example, after helping a friendly tribe early on you will follow their Chief to his home island, where something strange is going on. Your investigations require you to find 20 fireflies to have light in the darker parts of the jungle. But this task is only the beginning of a large and challenging puzzle.
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Besides the main objective you have to fulfill in every level there are a lot of side quests most of the times. Solving those quests often grants you very helpful items or new skills, such as the ability to construct Fire Towers, or amulets which make your people walk faster. The depth of Totem Tribe Gold is even increased by the fact that you can always return to any island and see if there is more to do, or if you overlooked some bonus during your first visit. And that happens frequently, because often you first have to acquire new skills or buildings on later islands to reach previously impassable areas.
In addition to a load of new levels and quests there are also some improvements regarding the game mechanics. For one thing it is possible to build Guard Towers, which are equipped with actual soldiers who can move. In the original Totem Tribe it was extremely risky to leave your village alone, now this is a bit safer thanks to that option. Also the player now is able to see how many jewels are still left to be found on every island, which is at least some help. Additionally you are also able to find pieces of a magnifying glass, which will even improve chances to find objects.
Unfortunately, three frustrating aspects are still there: you cannot save your game at any given point so that you do not have to restart an island when you make a big mistake, namely losing Guro or Aruku. When you leave the game your current state is automatically saved, but when you lose a level, you have to start from scratch. This is particularly annoying given how long the levels can take.
Furthermore, it would have been nice to finally have the ability to separate your soldiers. Currently your whole army can only be directed to one specific point, which can drag in some cases, and is really risky in other cases. Lastly Totem Tribe Gold still seriously lacks a direct hint button. With all those small jewels and objects that highly resemble the surroundings, it quickly becomes frustrating when you are just missing one thing to proceed in the game.
In fact, those little annoyances still known from the first part are the only reasons why we can’t give our unconditional recommendation and the highest rating to this otherwise worthwhile gem of a game. Besides, players who like their games really casual or show lack of patience should clearly avoid Totem Tribe Gold, because the high pressure particularly in battles and the sometimes epic tasks to find hidden objects on huge maps would obviously contrast with their taste.
Apart from that, Totem Tribe Gold offers everything you would expect from a real hit: Beautiful and diverse graphics, gameplay that oozes innovation, a playtime of easily 30 hours and more, replayability that other games can only dream to offer, and an exciting storyline as the icing on the cake. With all the new additions it is definitely worth a look for everyone who enjoyed the original Totem Tribe, and gamers who haven’t played the original should try it too.