Genre(s): 3D Platformer, Puzzler
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC – Steam, Xbox and PlayStation)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 30/08/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Games like Tinykin are very special, mainly because they look great, and bolster a very niche and small genre in gaming. It is a good blend of Chibi Robo and Pikmin, with a clever visual style that oozes charm.
It stars Milo, who arrives on Earth, only to find that he’s the size of a nickel. If that wasn’t bad enough, everybody’s gone and a day hasn’t passed since 1991! The house he finds himself in is broken into different rooms (with each acting somewhat like its own metropolis) for the different insects that have made the place their home. Guided by the Moth sage known as Ridmi, you are tasked to collect different items scattered amongst the different bug tribes, in order to build a contraption to get back home. Luckily for you, the Tinykin are here to help you!
These cyclops-looking flying bugs hatch from coloured eggs upon contact and there are five variations. The Magenta Tinykin are strong and can carry items around. The Red Tinykin are expendable, Kamikaze projectiles, needed to break down certain obstacles. The Green Tinykin can be stacked to make a vertical ladder that is handy for reaching high places. The sleepy Blue Tinykin can be used to conduct electricity, and therefore create a surge to power some of the many household electronics. Lastly, the Yellow Tinykin can bundle together at specific points, to form bridges. Fans of Pikmin will feel right at home with this game. Although as expected, there are some unique differences between both titles.
STAY IN YOUR ROOM!
Firstly, Tinykin found in an area of the house will remain there and not travel across the rooms with you. The main reason, at least by what Ridmi explains, is that they are afraid of leaving their respective areas. Although this sounds like an inhibiting oversight, it works so well within the flow and mechanics of the game. Every time Milo enters a new room, he must find the many Tinykin in that area, to help him attain the much needed item. This strongly encourages the player to explore every single inch of the colossal rooms, as well as adding to the challenge of the puzzle/platform sections. There is also nectar to collect and trade and many side missions that reward trinkets that end up in your base’s museum.
There is no combat in this game and I personally appreciated that decision, mostly because there is no need for it. The story and mechanics focus on the different bug races and their internal politics. You’ll be far too preoccupied by bizarre and imaginative missions that Milo will carry out, in order to appease each race in exchange for their most guarded items. These are as fun as they are ridiculous! Like the Silverfish bugs wanting to start a rave in the bathtub and request our protagonist to organise the whole shindig, by collecting a laser pointer and a toy boat. Or the time you’ll bake a cake to stop the ants from unionising against their dragonfly and mantis bosses. It is fun and engrossing.
SOAP’S UP DUDE!
Milo has a few tricks up his sleeve that aid him on his quest. Firstly, if he needs to get to places at high speed, he can jump onto his soap bar by holding the Y button, and board through flat surfaces and moth silk strings. He also has a hover ability, which is activated when the jump A button is pressed again whilst in the air. This only lasts a few seconds, so float haste. He can hold more bubbles once he’s collected the required amount of nectar in each area, and they are vital to cross large gaps.
The controls are simple and good for the most part. I did find activating the bubble hover a tad hit and miss. I would reach the highest point of altitude on a jump, and then lose a few inches when activating the hover. It almost needed me to double tap the jump button as quickly as possible. There is also a section which requires the player to soap board through a tunnel whilst jumping over obstacles. The issue was that the Y button needs to be held in order to use the soap board, but you’ll need to press A in order to jump. It just made the default button mapping very cumbersome. Luckily I mapped the soap board to the shoulder L button, which felt like a more seamless and logical option. An alternative could have been the option to activate the soap board by tapping the Y button, instead of holding it down.
On the plus side, chucking specific Tinykin is a delight, mainly because they will automatically swap, depending on what the cursor is aimed at. By default and when applicable, either the Green or Magenta Tinykin are lobbed first, except if you aim at something destructible, which will automatically put a Red, explosive Tinykin in your hand. Not wanting to compare this game too much to Pikmin, but this is a mechanic that I would personally want in that series going forward.
Visually the game is a real feast for the eyes. The world is composed of everyday household items, cleverly scattered to create platforms, structures and obstacles. I couldn’t help but smile when I came across a huge fortress made out of tin cans, or the bustling town square under the kitchen table. All of these three dimensional environments are juxtaposed by the two dimensional cast of characters. It is a very similar style to the game Demon Turf, in that respect.
Each character and race have been drawn and animated beautifully. They won’t be to everyone’s liking, but they are really charming, whilst still in keeping with their insectoid traits. The Switch version (on which this review is based) will most probably be the least aesthetically pleasing out of the other versions, but I was caught up in awe by the beautiful and imaginative world before me. Furthermore, I did not encounter any bugs, frame drops or crashes during my playthrough.
The audio has an eclectic mix of songs that swap out their instrumentals, depending on where you are in a level, making them more dynamic. There is a dash of sci-fi instrumentals dropped in some of the songs too, which was a nice touch. The sound effects do the job well, and as to be expected, the insects and the Tinykin express their emotions by shouting, grunting and rejoicing in their own, high pitched gibberish.
I really loved playing Tinykin and love that it’s in my collection. There are a few minor issues, but I’d be nitpicking and they have been addressed in this review. Splashteam have created something very special here that needs to be experienced and savoured from start to end. They have managed to create a great, relaxing puzzle platformer, with a mysterious setting and intriguing lore, for those who choose to invest time into it. There is quite enough to do and collect, not to mention the in-game achievements. If you want to experience vertigo-inducing platforming set in a charming and imaginative world, this is definitely for you. Luckily, there is also a demo (except on PlayStation) which will help you decide on grabbing this great game.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can buy Tinykin from the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.