Timothy and the Mysterious Forest

Developer: Kibou Entertainment
Publisher: Gamera Interactive
Steam / Switch / PlayStation

Reviewed on PC (Steam)

The Bottom Line: Lacking in both the gameplay and story departments, this action-adventure is likely to disappoint all but the most masochistic of gamers.

Bad games are frustrating. But you know what’s worse than an ordinary bad game? It’s a game that lays out an intriguing premise and then fails to execute it in spectacular fashion. A game that hooks you with childhood nostalgia only to pull a bait and switch. A game that you keep playing because you’re hoping for a revelation that, in the end, never arrives.

What’s got me in such a dour mood? Either I got out of bed on the wrong side this morning or I just finished playing Timothy and the Mysterious Forest.

Timothy and the Mysterious Forest paints itself as a fourth-wall-breaking adventure that borrows elements from The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. In reality, it’s a jank-a-thon with underbaked writing, and the only thing it shares with Link’s Awakening is the tileset.

Seeing Green

The game starts out innocently enough. You step into the shoes of Timothy, a young lad whose grandpa has fallen ill. Despite his grandfather’s protestations, the ever-resourceful Timothy sets out into the mysterious forest to find a magic healing mushroom. On this quest he travels to faraway lands and interacts with a cast of shady characters.

Visual comparisons between Timothy and the Mysterious Forest and Link’s Awakening are impossible to avoid. It’s not just the shared 2-bit green color palette; Timothy outright copies several tiles and sprites from classic handheld Zelda. If Timothy were a successful tribute or parody, I would be willing to overlook this offense. Given how far Timothy’s gameplay and tone diverge from Zelda, however, the cribbing of elements from Link’s Awakening feels more like a means of attracting nostalgic gamers that a serious artistic choice.

“If I squint it looks kind of like Link’s Awakening. … what do you mean I’m not squinting?”

That’s not to say there are no similarities. Both games let you wander around a world map, collecting items and solving puzzles. But whereas Link doesn’t shy away from violence, Timothy is largely a pacifist. Bearing no arms of his own, he relies on stealth and environmental weapons like pots and rocks to stymie his foes. He is also very fragile, always dying after only a single hit. While these characteristics sound fine and well in principle, in practice they make for an overly frustrating experience.

A Link to the Glass

The crux of the game’s problems lie under the hood. Timothy and the Mysterious Forest is powered by RPGMaker MV, an engine with wonky collision detection and other peculiarities that make it a poor fit for action-driven games. While it’s possible to make a serviceable action-adventure in RPGMaker, as demonstrated by games like Buffet Knight, doing so requires accepting certain compromises, such as focusing on the story and providing the player with ample health.

Timothy and the Mysterious Forest veers sharply in the opposite direction. Poor Timothy is more fragile than Mr. Glass: One hit and he’s a goner. Touch a spike? Dead. Graze an enemy? Dead. Toss a pot a smidgen too late? Dead dead dead. The poor collision detection and one-hit deaths make for a dire combination, and the frustration is amplified by a stealth system that’s less of a system and more of a coin toss. Sometimes enemies seem to have eyes in the back of their heads; other times you’ll walk right past their noses without alerting them . Generally, I found it best just to sprint through areas while clutching my lucky life-size replica Triforce and praying to Naryu for mercy.


And don’t get me started on the bosses. Though their difficulty is in line with the rest of the game, the boss fights still unnerved me with their awkward pacing. In a thoughtfully designed boss battle, you’ll likely die a few times (or more) as you study the boss’s patterns and develop a plan of attack. Technically this is what happens in Timothy as well, but because death always strikes so abruptly the rhythmic flow of die-rinse-repeat can’t properly develop.

Meta-Narrative (Sans Narrative)

Maybe, just maybe, all the aforementioned gameplay issues could be forgiven if Timothy had a story worth telling. Yet here again the disappointment continues. While the game hints at having a meta-narrative, this never evolves beyond occasionally telling the player “So many Timothies died before you” or “Haha this is only a game!” It’s uninspired at best and insulting at worst.

Best Friends Forever

In spite of all these issues, I willed myself to completely finish the game, uncovering all four endings. Let’s just say that if you reach the first or second ending and have had enough, you may as well call it a wrap, because the second act is more of the same. Worse yet, the execution of the fourth and final ending only served to remind me that I’d wasted precious hours of my life playing this game. Under better circumstances it might’ve come off as funny, but after suffering through Timothy and the Mysterious Forest I was in no laughing mood.

Does the game have any redeeming qualities? Well, if you’re a masochist, or are simply looking for a difficult action-adventure game to pass a few hours with, you might eke some enjoyment out of it. But honestly, with so many excellent games available, particularly in this genre, Timothy and the Mysterious Forest is an easy skip. Give it a pass and satisfy your classic Zelda cravings elsewhere.

Rating: 49 of 100 Pixels