After a few hours of playing Treasure Adventure World, I was waiting for that moment where the soft, cute game aesthetics would begin to drop away to revel the creepy, unsettling horror title underneath.
You can’t blame me for getting a little worried. It has been a bit en vogue for indie titles to present their initially cheery game with sunshine and rainbows only to suddenly flip it into a creepypasta-esque horror fare. See Undertale, Pony Island, Superhot, and the recent Doki Doki Literature Club for the bait-and-switch-and-scare that is the latest gimmick in the indie world.
However, and I’m grateful to say it, Treasure Adventure World is sincere as an exploration platformer and a pleasant breath of fresh air.
Developed by Robit Games and released by Stardew Valley publisher, Chucklefish Games, Treasure Adventure World is the commercial remake of the original Treasure Adventure Game, which was released in 2011 as a free-to-play game by a two-man development team.
If you’ve played the original title, the first thing you’ll notice with the remake is how the art style has changed from using pixel art to a smoother, more hand-drawn look. The characters, especially people, have a large-eyed, round-faced look that would be at home on a PBS Kid’s show, which works in the game’s favor. Though stylewise, it looks like the game has a younger audience in mind, the bright colors, and soft kid-friendly designs remind me of an old Nintendo 64 third-party title.
It’s when we get into the gameplay where things start to feel really familiar. Treasure Adventure World is all about traveling to multiple islands and finding magical items and treasure hunting equipment, which you then use to hunt for even greater treasure. Most of the time in Treasure Adventure World, you’ll be jumping from platform to platform, solving relatively simple puzzles, and battling a variety of enemies from giant bugs and coconut-chucking monkeys, to boat-hunting sharks. Items also have at least one upgrade attachment and gameplay is interrupted with sections of digging, deep sea diving, and simple cannon-based boat combat.
The harshest thing I could say about Treasure Adventure World is that doesn’t really do anything new if you’ve played a lot of these games before. At its worst, it could be seen as a tad overly familiar. Even so, I would tell you to play Treasure Adventure World anyway, because it’s just so charming.
This is one of those titles when familiar gameplay allows the title itself to have some fun. Your character is a young child whose father and uncle, two daring archaeologists, are all separated during an expedition to retrieve 12 magical artifacts, which could grant the collector a single wish. Five years later after being lost at sea, our hero, amnesia-stricken and sporting a very useful hook hand (your primary weapon) teams up with Whydah, a talkative parrot on a quest to find the same 12 artifacts. Dubbing the kid as “Peep,” the two use pocket-sized boats and boomerang hook hands to dig inside an active volcano, fight giant sewer sludge monsters, and talk to tiny mushroom people who speak in haiku.
It’s those little details which make Treasure Adventure World work in my eyes. And while the combat, jumping, and movement might be familiar, it’s by no means boring and certainly by no means broken. Controls are for the most part very prompt and responsive, although the way Peep moves and especially jumps can feel a little floaty. Peep doesn’t so much falls as gently waft downwards, which makes sense as some challenges involve a controlled plummet.
I would easily recommend Treasure Adventure World to anyone who can’t get enough of these kinds of item-gathering, world-exploring titles. I would also recommend this title to parents looking to get a lightly challenging game suitable for their children. Finally, if you have an appreciation for small indie developers who put years into a single massive project, this game should be on your list.
Treasure Adventure World is available on Steam and on Good Old Games (GOG.com).