Essence Of The Tjikko – Prologue is a basic exploration and puzzle solving game with a setting that has the player begin as the product of a giant flower. The world of Tjikko is like being inside of an impressionist painting. There are a few objects that look realistic, like some plants and leaves, but most things are somewhat surreal. The shading is very flat, a washed out look with too much brightness and contrast. Oddly, for a modern game, the view aspect ratio is 4:3 instead of 16:9, so there are black bars on the left and right side of the screen. The sound and music are acceptable, although some sound effects have an audible hiss when they trigger.
The controls for Tjikko can be customized, which is appreciated. Unfortunately, the controls are fairly wonky to get used to. For example, the control for “Menu Return” will become the run button, which also acts as a jump in some situations. There are some controls with separate buttons that appear to be repetitive, like “up” and “move forward”. There are two “left” and two “right” controls. The mouse is used to change the camera angle, but in some areas, the camera controls are locked. Menu navigation is all through keys or buttons, the mouse buttons/cursor can’t be used select menu items.
The player has an inventory and there is a flying creature that is constantly throwing fruit down for the player to pick up. Every so often a message will appear that the player is hungry, but since Tinkerbell is always throwing food down, there is never a problem with hunger. The main goal appears to be navigating from one room/area to the next, although this is not made clear. There is nothing presented to the player to say what the next or overall goal is. The goal may be discovered quickly for a particular area, like there is a pedestal and a glowing pod can be put on it, which opens a door. Other areas there seems to be nowhere to go, but there is some trick to get past the room. Usually, the tricky areas will involve some acrobatic moves discovered through trial an error.
Tjikko is a game that doesn’t know what it wants to be; art, platformer, fantasy RPG, exploration, or just mysterious. It has got a little bit of all of these things, but it doesn’t feel like the player is achieving anything other than getting to the next area. There are a few bugs; the character got locked into a direction that could not be changed, but a reload of the game fixed this. Fans of old school console games like Legend of Zelda (but with no fighting or other characters) might get some enjoyment from Tjikko. Most players will find it be more of a chore to play than fun, so this game is not recommended.