During Tokyo Game Show, one of the titles that caught our eye was Incredible Mandy. It’s an action-adventure indie title developed by a Dotoyou Games, a small 14-man studio from China.

A walk through the Tokyo Game Show indie corner brought me to Dotoyou Games’ booth, where I couldn’t help but marvel at the game’s simple, but clever puzzle design. A volunteer representative, John Jin, invited me to play– and here’s what I got out of a brief go at The Incredible Mandy.

What Is It?

The Incredible Mandy is a journey that intertwines memory and dreams. In a surreal world of windy skies, forests, mountains, and more, the player takes the form of a fantasy adventurer who must rescue his sister. He’ll need to uncover various lost memories across this mysterious dreamscape, each containing a past vignette about him and his sister. Armed with a magical sword and aided by a friendly robot, he’ll need to solve puzzles and fight off monsters.

However, this puzzle-platformer is no straightforward fantasy romp. You see, the whole world of this game is a dream. The adventurer is just a normal boy in the real world. The memories you seek aren’t quite like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s captured memories; they reflect a story about a boy and his sister in the real world. Almost everything in this dream world might translate to something in the real world. Their representative eagerly invited me to think about this idea. “This robot… he could even be a dog in the real world,” he pointed out.

How to Play

To master this game, you’ll need to master its magical light sword. The world of the Incredible Mandy has its share of monsters crawling around, but the sword is far more than a tool for fighting. Your sword is the key to almost all of the game’s platforming puzzles. It triggers switches, opens up doors, and calls the hero’s handy robot partner.

Here’s where things get a little bit complex. You can plant it into the ground and generate a new sword from mana. Then, by hitting a sword planted into the ground with your bow or striking it with another sword, it’ll cause a small explosion. By taking advantage of this mechanic, you can toggle switches and levels from far away, or perhaps create traps for monsters to walk into. You can also place multiple swords into the ground, and they’ll connect in a line. This lets you set off an explosion from even farther away, or even set off multiple switches at once! It’s the bread-and-butter behind this game’s platforming puzzles, where you might need to hit a switch at the right time or right place to ride a platform into the next part of the stage.

The game’s sword mechanic is what really defines the game. It’ll stimulate your creativity and challenge you to think outside-the-box. In a number of cases, there’s more than one possible solution to the game’s puzzles– and that’s where this system shines. I owe Dotoyou Games my praise for coming up for such a cool gameplay hook.

Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

If I’ve overwhelmed you, fear not. If the Incredible Mandy’s event demo is anything to go by, the game’s puzzles have a gentle learning curve. The game’s introduction guides you gradually through the core ideas one by one. You’ll be learning basic movement, how to interact with obstacles, and simple actions with your sword. Then, you’ll learn to put it together and solve complex puzzles. It’s never unfair and you’ll always feel a sense of triumph after you overcome the game’s obstacles one by one.

Plus, the experience is topped off with some pretty cool boss fights. The dream world might have its share of enemy encounters, but none of them quite compare to these. You’ll need to use your puzzle-solving wits and use the game’s combat and platforming mechanics to take down these creatures. It adds some nice thrills to an already great game.

A Link to the Past

The Incredible Mandy really wears its influences on its sleeve. The representative curiously asked me, “So, are there any games that this reminds you of.” Cel-shaded low-poly look, puzzle adventure game– Journey, right? Well, I guess. But there was a far more obvious inspiration he drew me toward The Legend of Zelda. Specifically, he drew me towards Wind Waker and Skyward Sword, which have cartoony cel-shaded visuals that seem to have inspired this title.

It’s definitely a good comparison. The game’s core platforming loop might remind you of the kind of puzzle solving you’ll do in a Zelda title. The bosses have similar key weaknesses and attack patterns. Plus, the fantasy environment of the game’s dream world is a clear homage to fantasy games like Zelda.

Dotoyou Games brings its own very unique take on its genre inspirations. The game’s magic sword is a particularly one-of-a-kind creative twist. Plus, the game’s theme about dreams also adds meta-levels of storytelling you’re not likely to find in your usual fantasy story.

Gearing Up for Launch

The game is planned for a Steam and Nintendo Switch release. Although the game’s pages suggest it’ll release in “Late 2018,” Dotoyou Games’ representative suggested that it was possible the game may be delayed into “January or February 2019.” He cited that the game still needs quite a bit of polishing.

A little bit more time might not hurt. The game shows lots of promise, but even in the demo build I played, I had noticed a few issues. There were a few hiccups with the game’s physics, as a brief collision when I jumped on board a moving block.

Still, there’s a lot to look forward to when the game’s full release rolls around. Once they wrap up development and polish up the experience, it’ll feature a story that takes about 20 hours on average. Furthermore, the representative pointed out that “most players might not be able to get all the memories in one playthrough.” It may take a mix of thorough exploration and replays to get the full experience.

You can expect big things from the relatively small Dotoyou Games. If the demo indicates anything, it’s that they show tons of promise and can dream up some interesting ideas. Their first effort has lots of great concepts and ideas that will challenge your brain. We’ll see how it plays out when The Incredible Mandy launches for PC and Switch in either late 2018 or early 2019.