TUTUTUTU – Tea Party is a surreal horror rhythm Endless Runner game, both developed and published by Marginal Act.
The story of TUTUTUTU is as follow, God forbade tea, and to that point he removed the mouths of the world’s denizens. However your character is a rebel, and as such it is up to you to return both mouths and tea to the people.
Like a surrealistic Dali fever dream, the tyranny of a god and his warped prohibition must be stopped.
First you must pick a mouth, each mouth has its own strengths and weaknesses. Once the mouth has been selected you then need to pick up your tea, which is also your health. If the tea falls then morbidly your head is removed from your body and you lose.
As you hold the tea it will begin to waver, much like balancing a grind in the Tony Hawks games, you must endeavour to keep the tea upright. Once you have this aspect down it’s time to start the actual game. Your character stands upon a series of lines that look like the strings of a guitar. Moving between the strings plays notes as well, and you will need to dodge incoming mines, all while keeping the tea from falling.
This is the gaming equivalent of rubbing your stomach and patting your head. Before long even more is thrown at you, such as obstacles to block, and items to push at the bosses. The bosses being militant angels hoping to uphold the word of the final boss, God.
Like a horrifying Italian Fresco, the art of TUTUTUTU is a very detailed pixel art. It’s the designs where the horror aspect comes from. Everything in the world is bizarre. Gross and scary in their other worldliness, it is by far one of the most distinctive horror games I’ve seen in a while.
The design of the world is fairly minimal, but the people that walk past, and the nightmare scenarios in the background contrast this quite well. There are a bunch of signs up, with a mug crossed out. In most games this imagery would be odd, maybe even funny, in TUTUTUTU it is off putting, by design.
Without resorting to cheap shock value, like gore, defecation, or sexual content, TUTUTUTU manages to be uniquely nauseating.
Along with the tone that plays as you move from one string to the next, there are various other sound effects. Explosions from the mines, swooshes from a pushed item etc. But it is the music that really stands out, much like the art, the music in the game is tense and nauseating. With a low hum that builds, along with the music cascading over the top, your heartbeat begins to speed up. The soundtrack would be well suited to a sci-fi horror film, and it actually brings to mind movies like Annihilation for me. It’s sickening but not in the traditional sense. Rather it is a well crafted design choice to further indicate that something is amiss in this world.
Over all, I personally found TUTUTUTU – Tea Party, to be too difficult. Partially due to the multiple things you need to keep track of. But also because the tension that built in the levels got to me. For those looking for a challenge in a surreal nightmare of a world, TUTUTUTU is a well crafted game. For more casual players, even of other Endless Runner games, TUTUTUTU might dump you into the deep end a little too fast. That and the style they are going for (and achieve), might be a little too far out of the mainstream for most audiences. Despite not playing a lot of it, I never found myself hating the game. Rather I admire the style, and would be interested in learning more about the world. That being said, the lack of a tutorial was a little jarring.
Rating: 6/10 – A tough and surreal adventure, that most might just skip.
Title: TUTUTUTU – Tea Party
Genre: Endless Runner
Developer: Marginal Act
Publisher: Marginal Act
Release Date: 14 Aug 2019