September 14, 2021

Tiny Buildings, Big Heart -Tinytopia (Steam) Review

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I want to watch my steps while I write this review, and not because I might step on and crush a seven-story building but because I want to explain who Tinytopia is for, and who it might not be for. Similar in gameplay mechanics to that of SimCity and Cities: Skylines, but smaller in scale, Tinytopia nudges us to ponder the question of "..what if?"

Tinytopia, from developer MeNic Games, is a charming little simulation about tiny homes that occupy tiny neighborhoods in tiny communities. And because of their small size, the tiny residents that inhabit this tiny little world have very small and tiny needs: One factory or store, for example, is enough to employ an entire block and one solar panel can keep an entire stadium lit for an exorbitantly long time.

The gameplay, and there's a lot more of it, is simply a way to lead us from one wonderfully imagined world to another. Like SimCity or Skylines, the residents live in a world where everyday items look gargantuan by comparison. Some of the effects will remind you of Skylines but the charm comes in the way Tinytopia makes its world look like a coloring book. You can start a free play mode where you build to your heart's content or choose from a number of pre-fabricated locations and attempt to build a thriving community from there.

But beware, building structures does take some planning so you just can't build anywhere you want. Homes need some form of power to function and your tiny residents will clamor for work; hence, adding a few stores and warehouses along the neighborhood grid will keep them happy. The more you build the more blueprints you'll uncover which increases your building possibilities including the ability to stack buildings upon each other.

Overall, Tinytopia is wisely modest in its scope despite its big intentions of being a sim-builder. It sets up the situation, begs the player to build, and has fun with the special effects.

As your city grows, you naturally have to deal with your residents' wants and needs, and that means digging beneath the basic functions and into some of the deeper aspects of the interface. You can click on the icons to see what everyone wants so you have a better idea of what you should probably do next. Tinytopia makes handling this part fairly easy and unlike the clunky interface of the SimCity series, there's almost no guesswork.

There are, however, some issues I have with the game. For one, you never see people walking around the neighborhood or around the community for that matter. Cars are seen but they are merely decorative as they simply cross back and forth on predetermined routes with one never pulling up to a driveway. Despite all the activity goin on, my community oftentimes felt lifeless.

Tinytopia, from developer MeNic Games, is a charming little simulation about tiny homes that occupy tiny neighborhoods in tiny communities.

Overall, Tinytopia is wisely modest in its scope despite its big intentions. It sets up the situation for gamers to analyze, begs the player to build, and has fun with its special effects. If the visuals and the physical humor are designed to appeal to kids, then its scope and complexity will impress adults who know exactly what they're looking for.

And that 'what if' scenario? Consider the possibility, for example, when your thriving little world is suddenly engulfed by flames caused by meteor strikes and you only have one medical response team to put out the fire. It is these types of situations that keep the game somewhat riveting. And oh, watching a Godzilla-like dinosaur trampling your city is something you just don't see every day.

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