Skip to main content

Oddada is the best kind of video game toybox as you get to keep downloadable WAVs of all the tunes you make

It's trebley good.

A toy train sits next to a toy pipe organ in Oddada, with a purple character with large eyes in the bottom corner for Eurogamer's Wishlisted feature series.
Image credit: Eurogamer/Sven Ahlgrimm & Mathilde Hoffmann

I have something of a love-hate relationship with games that are also toys. I'm talking about games like Townscaper, The Ramp, Summerhouse and even Tiny Glade - the games that are essentially one endless creative mode where your goal is to simply 'make stuff' to your heart's content. I love what they're about, and I will admire and coo over all the lovely GIFs and clips that folks with far more imagination than I manage to get out of them until the cows come home. But I struggle to get much personal joy from them when there's no overarching objective shaping what I'm meant to be building. It's a chronic case of 'blank page-itis', but not so with the musical toybox delight of Oddada.

Oddada's Steam Next Fest demo gives you something tangible to hold onto - though it may not seem that way when you first give it a go. Straight off, you're invited to simply poke and prod various music boxes to create interesting sounds. The first involves slotting the letters of the game's own name into adjustable wooden towers with adorable little faces carved into them, their height determining what pitch they'll quickly start humming away at. A toy train then appears on the scene, letting you change the scenery from day to night to dusk, which in turn alters the timbre of your notes yet again. Press the big red button on the train's nose, and you'll be whisked away to another scene where you can build on the da-da-dum you've just created, or mute it entirely to make something new.

You'll go through several scenes like this, each one more tactile and intriguing than the last, layering up your growing musical soundscape as you go. My favourite one was the giant metronome crabs, whose sleepy eye stalks would clong together neat little bell sounds, while their open, toothy mouths could be raised up and down to change the speed their eyes knocked together, as well as the tone of the bell in question. The wooden toy pipe organ was also absolutely exquisite, with each mouse click on one of the keys marking a notch on its multi-coloured drum, adding more rhythmic and percussive knocks, boops and dings to my growing bed of electronia. And if you need to redo those rhythm's you've just laid down? Then just slam that metal handle down on the side and start over.

A toy train parks next to two giant crab-like metronomes in Oddada.
Image credit: Eurogamer/Sven Ahlgrimm & Mathilde Hoffmann

It's truly delightful stuff, and best of all, each extra layers gets represented as another little carriage on your toy train, which you can once again raise up and down to control its volume (or switch off entirely) in the wider piece you've just created. Once you've got six little wheelie trucks following along behind you, it's time for the grand finale: the recording session. As the faux orchestra tunes up and the cassette tape curtain peels back, your train stands front and centre on a track with rolling hills and a giant toy sun hanging in the sky on a little pullstring. As the timer ticks down on the train's engine, you've got 50-odd seconds to fiddle about with your creation as you see fit, dialling up each layer like you're a teddy bear's picnic DJ.

Thing is, I was expecting it all to end there, and for the 'Thank you for playing' screen to appear to bring this whole enchanting experience to an end. I started entering that phase I always do with toybox games, thinking, 'Well that was a nice ten minutes of fun I just had, but I probably don't need much more of this.' Sure, I had a lot of fun customising the look of my cassette tape, giving it a name and a label and decorating it with stickers, but I was fully prepared to just pop my tape into the nearby cassette box, seal it shut and for that to be that, locked away forever inside the game, probably never to be seen or heard again.

A toy train sits in front of a block-based hill toy in Oddada
A toy train approaches a hexagonal music box with adjustable towers in Oddada.
Image credit: Eurogamer/Sven Ahlgrimm & Mathilde Hoffmann

But there was one more stop my train could take, and that was a little yellow plastic computer with a conveniently shaped tape tray jutting out of it. Since this is a game that celebrates the act of curiosity and poking stuff with abandon just to see what happens, I immediately popped my tape in, and the screen (and a fresh, unseen lever) sprang to life. A tape icon appeared next to an arrow pointing to a folder, and my heart leapt. It was asking if I wanted to save my tune as a WAV file on my PC, and it was then I knew I'd finally found my motivation and my objective: to use Oddada to create cool little WAV files I could play for myself, in my own time. I don't know why this feels more rewarding to me than a stuffed screenshots folder full of lovely Summerhouse and Tiny Glade landscapes. But it lit up a node in my brain unlike any other toybox game I've encountered so far, and for that Oddada gets a big Oh-yeah-yeah from me.

Read this next