You know what I need? A bloody holiday. Really, by this point in the year, we all need a holiday don't we? But unfortunately, for the majority of us, that just isn't going to happen - not anytime soon.
While we won't be donning our speedos and applying ludicrous amounts of sticky suncream in the coming months, there is a dark horse lurking in the Xbox Series launch lineup that will help fill that sun-shaped void.
Shin'en Multimedia's The Touryst may not necessarily be a game you've heard of before. Despite being available on numerous platforms since its release in November 2019, and garnering a lot of critical praise, it hadn't landed on my radar. So seeing it appear as an Xbox Series X launch title was a nice surprise.
Having sunk many hours into this unique and eye-watering indie gem, though, I can safely say that it's definitely a game you should be downloading as soon as you pick up your Xbox Series X.
- Xbox Series X vs PS5: which console should you buy?
- Xbox Series X games list: all the games confirmed for the new Xbox
- Where to buy Xbox Series X: all the latest stock updates
Holiday in my head (and on my console)
The Touryst is great for those who love having everything and nothing to do. While you have a to-do list of things that you can work through, each of which pushes the game forward, you can also take a lot of time to simply explore, take in the islands and their residents and soak up the atmosphere.
Fancy popping to the arcade to try some mini-games. No problem. Want to search the islands for coins like a gold-hungry dragon? Be my guest. While the game doesn't really take that long to complete, you have the option to rush through everything or take your time with it.
But, be warned, while tasks that most residents and fellow tourists lay out for you are fairly straightforward, there are some that may have you a bit stumped (there's a particular surfing task that infuriated me for some time).
What I enjoy most about The Touryst, outside of the sheer beauty of it, is the way it combines various elements. While it comes under the vague moniker of 'action-adventure', you'll find yourself solving puzzles, collecting items and partaking in a variety of mini-games that include both rhythm and sports challenges.
But why Xbox Series X?
As I've said, The Touryst is available on other platforms already: Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox One. So why should you pick it up for the Xbox Series X specifically?
Well, The Touryst on Xbox Series X is one of a handful of titles that will be optimized for the console from launch day. According to developer Shin'en Multimedia, The Touryst internally renders at 4K at 120fps (if your TV supports 120) or 6K at 60fps (if you have a 60Hz TV or disabled 120Hz). This is then downsampled to the target resolution your TV can handle. However, if like me you have a TV that supports 4K at 120fps, then the game will not downsample and will instead run at this resolution and fps.
What that means for players is that you should get an even crisper and smoother experience than you would on any other platform.
I certainly found this to be the case. Booting up The Touryst for the first time, I wasn't prepared for the vividness and sharpness of the game's visuals. The contrast between the game's colors is dazzling, and unlike anything I've seen in a game before. The vibrant blue of the ocean and the fluorescent green of the palm trees immediately impressed me on Xbox Series X - if you didn't think the look of voxel games could be improved much, The Touryst will have you thinking otherwise.
While I'm unclear on the exact resolution and frame rate The Touryst was running at on my Series X - there's no option to change settings - I would guess it was running 4K at 60fps. It runs incredibly smoothly, which you might expect from a game that looks relatively simple next to some of the more demanding next-gen titles. That's a relief, since this game contains a number of fiddly tasks that would've been made trickier by frame rate drops.
What The Touryst arguably benefits from most, outside of its captivating visuals, is the significantly reduced loading times the Xbox Series X provides.
So while The Touryst might not be number one on your list of Xbox Series X games to pick up on day one, I think it's worth considering if you've never given it a go – or even if you have. If you've played the game before on Switch or PC, you'll be blown away by its Series X improvements, and if you've played on Xbox One, you can make use of the Xbox Smart Delivery initiative to upgrade to the next-gen version for free.
But if you're still on the fence, you'll be glad to know The Touryst comes included with Xbox Game Pass - so even if it's not your cup of tea, you haven't lost out.