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The Last Tinker: City of Colors Preview: Punch With All the Colors
Indie games love to draw on retro “bit” graphics and gameplay, and it makes sense considering their usually small team of developers and smaller budgets. But Mimimi Productions is tapping into a different vein of nostalgia, bringing the glory of the PlayStation 2 era action-platformers to a new generation, with The Last Tinker: City of Colors.
In Tinkerworld, everything is made of paper, glue, and color. When the British narrator explains this during the intro cutscene, you’d be forgiven for getting the sneaking suspicion that Sackboy is about to pop his head around the corner; where LittleBigPlanet‘s hand-crafted worlds tend to look muted, The Last Tinker goes full bore with its color palette.
In Colortown there are three main colors, red, blue, and green, corresponding to strength, fortitude, and curiosity respectively. Everybody has their favorite color which they decorate themselves and their lives with, but something has changed. Strength has become anger, fortitude has become sadness, and curiosity has changed to fear. The inhabits of Colortown have divided their city up based on their colors and now animosity is brewing between them. It’s only in the Outer District that the colors and people still mingle in peace.
The Last Tinker‘s world is bursting with charm and character. Characters paint themselves with a medley of colors, the grass is made with strips of paper, the dialogue boxes are made out of cardboard, and the sun has a big grin across its face and wears a nightcap when it sleeps at night. If you’re tired of brown and gray unrelenting seriousness in your games, The Last Tinker doesn’t skimp on color or lightheartedness.
Our protagonist, Koru, lives in the colorful Outer District where he’s known for building and fixing things (one might even say “tinkering”). One day his floating pinata buddy Tap is hurt by an angry bully, and Koru is contacted by the Purple Spirit who tells him that something is wrong in the City of Colors. It’s up to Koru to figure out what’s happened to Colortown so he can set things right again.
The Last Tinker is a mix of combat, puzzle solving, and platforming. Combat plays like a simpler version of the Arkham games. Koru bounces between enemies with ease – first with just a simple one-button combo, but eventually gaining new powers based on the world’s three main colors. Since each color is representative of an emotion, Koru can also use these powers to solve puzzles. In one instance, he uses red to agitate a character, making them explode and creating a path through some rubble.
The platforming is like a mix between Sly Cooper and Assassin’s Creed. While sprinting, Koru will automatically jump to the next available platform ahead of him. Platforming is about finding the right path and timing your jumps with disappearing platforms rather than using the right amount of speed and height to make a correct jump.
I’m interested to see how the simple gameplay transforms over The Last Tinker‘s approximately eight hours, but the big standout in my hour or so with the game was the world of Colortown. Everything feels so vibrant, so tactile and textured. Paper is peeling off of an old inn. Wind chimes are made of cardboard. NPCs are colorful and expressive, talking like Banjo-Kazooie characters. The world is all the more impressive considering Mimimi Productions is comprised of just 11 people.
If you have any nostalgia for Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, or Jak and Daxter, The Last Tinker certainly looks to be scratching a similar itch. After my hour with it, I was left eager to see more of the delightful world that Mimimi Productions has created.
The Last Tinker: City of Colors is coming to Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux, in the second quarter of 2014.