Charming is perhaps the best word to describe Splashteam’s latest offering, Tinykin, and not just because of the cute little critters that follow your main character around. The gameplay is reminiscent of that of Pikmin, which effectively blends together a puzzle-based real-time strategy to produce a unique and captivating experience. Although it is not the first game to feature a mixture of different genres, it does take the concept to new heights of complexity and design.
The wholesome story takes place in an unfamiliar world of characters with balloon heads, saucer eyes, and pretzel limbs. You take on the role of Milo, tasked with finding parts to a ship that will eventually take him home. But Milo’s not alone in this endeavor as little critters called Tinykins are scattered about ready to help him accomplish the task.
Giving orders to your little companions is straightforward as you only need to throw them at corresponding objects to do their thing. When you witness each Tinykins heave-hoing as they lift up heavy objects and then faithfully rally back to you with a blow of a whistle will make you fall quickly in love with your little friends.
Some of the puzzle elements early on are pretty simple but do get more complex the deeper into the game you get. Tinykins also have unique abilities and talents based on their character types so make sure to grab as many different ones as you can.
Watching your babies grab onto each other to form ladders and bridges or act as electrical conduits to connect two circuits together will make you feel like proud parents, and unlike Pikmin, there are no fighting sequences which makes the game ideal for any age group.
Aesthetically, Tinykin struts down the PC catwalk as a perfect example of visual extravagance. The whimsical artistic style chosen by the developers has blossomed into a fully 3D world where everyday household items are all realized in stunningly realistic forms. The developers show us the world of Tinykin as a perturbing place where the inhabitants exist to be peculiar, obnoxious, but always funny.
Each level reflects the changing scenery with lush beauty: a bedroom, a kitchen with an overflowing sink, and a playroom just to name a few. On the mountaintop of cabinets, for example, shiny bits of pollen are perched high above waiting to be discovered as the camera uses effective lateral movements to sweep across the opulent landscape.
The graphics are bright and vibrant and each level is littered with all things cute and friendly. The Tinykins themselves are so wonderfully modeled that you actually feel a sense of sadness when you aren’t able to collect and free them all. And despite having literally dozens and dozens of Tinykins on screen, the graphics engine holds up very well without any noticeable slowdown whatsoever.
The only real disappointment I had with the title is that like any good game, it ends pretty quickly right as it’s hitting its stride. A few more diverse levels to explore would have made this much better. Even with this minor gripe, however, Tinykin is so well developed that it will stand out against many of the bigger AAA titles out there. Its refreshing gameplay and innovative design will make it go down as one of the best games of the year.