I had no intention of playing Tengami with my 3 year old. I started the app and before I could tap on “New Game” she was standing next to me leaning in to see the screen. “That’s beautiful music, what are doing?” I said that I was going to play Tengami. “Tea-gaaaa-meeee?, what is Tea-gaaa-meee?”. I said “Ten-ga-mi” and explained that it was a pop-up book adventure. “Can I play Tengami?”, she said and nuzzled in next to me, one of her little hands grasping one side of the iPad. That is how our adventure began.
It’s three years later and my three year old is now six and three-quarters, but she still loves loading up Tengami. She’s old enough now to figure out most of the puzzles and puts a headset on to listen to the amazing soundtrack. I’m called over every now and again for the ‘I’m stuck again! I still can’t figure this one out’ parts and it’s still a pleasure for me as well to tap through the puzzles and see the adventure unfold. It’s a hauntingly beautiful game, made with such great attention to detail that it never gets old.
The Ergohacks Verdict
Tengami is more like a guided meditation with a few well-placed haiku’s rather than a traditional point-and-click adventure. It is a detailed and deliberate contemplative solitary exploration in a peaceful, ancient world. I felt as if I was exploring the ruins of a civilization of which only echoes remained. As long as I kept with the slow pace of the game and paid close attention to the environment, there was little need to back track or hunt down clues.
I first came across Tengami playing an early Demo at Rezzed in Brighton. It immediately captured my attention and I’ve been playing it ever since. I don’t have much time for games, so I often play late at night when the whole house is sleeping. This is my time. I usually play old favourites – a good tower defense game or a quiet, atmospheric game. Tengami remains a favourite. The first time I played it, is still fresh in my memory. As I finished Tengami, it took me a moment to realise that I was not actually in the Japan of ancient dark fairy tales. It took me a moment longer to realise that I had never played an immersive game on the iPad until now. This will be my game, the one I play when the house is sleeping and I have time to believe in magic and enchanted fairy tales.
Buy it from Steam, App Store, Play Store +
Price: ± £3.99 – 4.99
“Nyamyam is an independent game developer based in the UK. Nyamyam was founded in late 2010. With love and attention we strive to create beautifully crafted games. Games that not only express who the creators are as individuals, but also bring a little magic into other people’s lives.
Jennifer Schneidereit is a German game designer and programmer, with a background in computer science. In 2010 she co-founded Nyamyam, a small independent game developer in the UK, with the goal to create beautifully crafted games with unusual or unique concepts.”*
Tengami is a beautiful, virtual pop-up book. It’s a Japanese fairy tale that unfolds page by page. The puzzles are intrinsic to the design. Slide, fold and flip to uncover clues and solve puzzles. My 6-year old adores pop-up books, like most children and I’ve had the pleasure of reading many of them over the last five years. The secret of their magic is finding the hidden messages and clues that hide behind the pop-ups and flip tops embedded in each page. Playing Tengami brings to the surface the same wonder and pleasure. It isn’t diminished by the lack of pages, but just provides a different experience through its use of sound and visual design.
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC, Wii U
Genre: Adventure game
Number of players: single player
Difficulty setting: Standard
We based our Ergohacks Verdict on 3 years of playing and replaying Tengami on various iPads. This article was first published on 28 February 2014 and last updated on 15 June 2017.