Sometimes a game comes along that makes you so happy because you were so worried that you wouldn’t like it and it actually ends up being way better than you could ever have hoped for.
Tinykin is that game.
Many thanks to the developers for the review code.
MILO HIGH CLUB
Set on a distant planet in the distant future, Milo works on his experimental teleporter that he is building to help test his hypothesis on the origin of the human race. As is the case with experimental technology, things don’t go exactly according to plan. Whilst he does land where he needs to be, he ends up stranded – and at a height much smaller than he should be!
The abandoned house he ends up in is inhabited by bugs that worship the mysterious Ardwin as some type of godlike entity, but more importantly these bugs know the key to Milo’s way home – a device assembled from six difference components conveniently scattered around the house.
So far, so familiar – at least to fans of a certain Nintendo property.
Whilst Tinykin might appear to be a Pikmin clone from a cursory glance, it’s actually further away from the formula than you might expect. Rather than having an open-world full of navigational puzzles for you to overcome, instead the game plays more akin to that of a 3D platformer. Milo has only a limited moveset at his disposal, being able to jump, glide (using an upgradable soap bubble), and skateboard on a bar of soap; however, the titular Tinykin at his disposal will also provide him with further means of geting around.
Tinykin come in multiple flavours, and most zones have a new one for you to obtain. You have your obligatory pushers and carriers (although it is only these pink ones that can do so), as well as some other variants that offer some interesting functionality. My favourite Tinykin were the green ones that stack themselves up to form a makeshift ladder to help you reach higher places, and it is as gloriously broken as it sounds.
The areas themselves, of which there are seven or so, are all compromised of rooms within the comparatively giant house. The first one you’ll encounter after the tutorial is the Sanctuary – a living room that serves as the hub for a religious sect that worship the almighty Ardwin. It’s a great area that has lots of NPCs to speak to, in addition to a variety of side missions you can take on should you wish to do so. Your main objective in the Sanctuary is to prepare the CD player to bring about the sounds of their beloved God, but the additional bonus missions see you obtaining lost jewelry, finding missing children and so on. These extra tasks are largely meaningless, earning you an artifact for the museum, but hunting down the collectible honey scattered around will reward you with extra soap bubbles to extend the duration of your glide.
There are no enemies as you make your way through the levels, but the focus here is entirely around exploration and progression. Finding more Tinykin may allow you to access new areas, which will in turn allow you to find objects that can be manipulated to help backtrack and make further progress. It’s both compelling and relaxing, making it a perfect family game with its complete lack of violence.
To mix things up, each room tends to offer its own unique twist on this basic formula. The bathroom, for example, is a real highlight since it sees you entering via the sewage system and requires that you master two different bathrooms before eventually finding a way to open the door that links them together. It’s a clever move and also very satisfying too.
Whilst the lack of any real threat doesn’t cause much of an issue, the one thing that it does lack is a map. Some of these areas can be pretty lengthy, and it would have been good to even have a simple map that notes key areas. With some maps I even had trouble remembering just where the hell I entered, making me wander around lost finding the way out. It’s even worse when it comes to the side missions, as finding that one NPC that you need to bring something to can be a bit of an irritance. The game doesn’t need quest markers, but having something to note down places of importance would really have helped the games only real flaw.
Tinykin is a phenomenal experience that threw me off with just how much fun it actually was. It may not be challenging at all, but what it lacks in difficulty it makes up by just being a relaxingly pleasant time. There may not be much of an endgame finale, and a map to ease navigation would be nice, but those are relatively small gripes for what is otherwise an amazing game. This will certainly be a contender for one of The Elite Institute’s GOTY awards.