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The Last Tinker: City of Colors Review – Taste the Rainbow
When I previewed this game a couple of months ago, I remember being astonished that I was enjoying myself – after all, at first glance, this appears to be a game for children, what with all the bright colors and aggressively cute characters. So, as a 33-year-old man, why was I having so much fun? Was it just because I was tired of all the dingy, brown graphics in a lot of modern 3D AAA games? Was it because of the dichotomy between the kiddie aesthetic and the main character pummeling everything in sight? Was it because I got into the really good drugs that day? I had no idea.
So when Mimimi Productions extended an invitation for me to review the game, despite having a lot on my plate, I jumped at it. I wanted to find out if my previous enjoyment was a fluke, or if The Last Tinker really did have the chops to keep me coming back.
Tailor Tinker Soldier Spy
The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a 3D action-adventure game in the vein of classic PS2 adventures like Jak and Daxter or Ratchet and Clank. You play as Koru, a monkey-like boy who’s something of an outcast in his world, as he doesn’t really fit into the Red, Green, or Blue districts of the City of Colors. It’s not long into the game that Koru finds himself accidentally responsible for the descent of Bleakness onto the city, the evil white goop that drains all color from the environs and the citizens, petrifying them in the process.
As a fairy-tale kind of narrative hook, it does its job, but the story’s not what’ll keep you invested. Aside from a few fun characters (the Red Spirit is probably my favorite), a bunch of amusing moments, and a little bit of social commentary, there’s not a whole lot to it.
Color Me Happy
The presentation, naturally, is extraordinarily colorful. The Last Tinker, despite looking like it really could’ve run on a Playstation 2, is a beautiful game to look at. The design aesthetic is universal and easy on the eyes – a cacophony of colors could’ve been overwhelming, but it never gets any worse than “pretty”. And the music is fantastic stuff, seemingly inspired by music from all over the world, as I heard some tribal and folk influences. It really helps to build the world of the game alongside the design. The only problem I had with the sound design is that all of the characters make cute noises instead of talking, and after a while, I started to reach “cute overload” and I’d cringe when certain NPC’s started yapping.
Gameplay is a mix of action and puzzle-solving, and both are mostly satisfying. While Koru can fight with the best of them, spinning and flipping this way and that to deliver kicks and punches and combos, Batman he is not. Still, the fighting is pretty nuanced and intuitive, and it never gets too difficult. Also, your options open up considerably as you progress through the game, as you can hit enemies with red powers to cause damage, green powers to make them flee, and blue powers to depress them, effectively paralyzing them.
And Koru will have to solve a number of environmental puzzles to proceed, mostly involving his mushroom-like friends Biggs and Bomber. They each react differently to attacks of different colors, and you can use those reactions to hit switches, knock down walls, or clear patches of Bleakness. The Last Tinker does a great job of mixing these puzzles up, but I didn’t find these puzzles very challenging.
Insert Off-Color Joke Here
I guess technically you would call this game a platformer, but the reason I’m unsure is because there’s no jump button. Instead, there’s a run button that doubles as a sort of parkour option – when holding it, Koru will automatically leap to nearby stepping stones or ledges, finding his way across gaps or lakes. It took some getting used to, but it all works, and there can be some small element of challenge in finding the correct path or hidden Golden Paintbrushes off the path.
The one frustrating thing about getting around is the rail segments. Koru can jump onto and ride long rails across the entirety of a level in a Tony-Hawk-esque fashion, but later rails have obstacles that damage or even insta-kill Koru if you don’t jump clear of them in time, and worse yet, there’s a delay on each jump, making these sections much more difficult than they needed to be. It’s rather jarring when you consider how easy the rest of the game is.
The level design in The Last Tinker is exceptional. Levels tend to be both large, and extremely tightly designed – try as I might, I couldn’t find much in the way of wasted space. Paths through the level tend to go over and around each other, and if you wander off the beaten path, you’re going to find something to do or collect.
Showing Its True Colors
The Last Tinker is a gorgeous, harmless romp of a game with lots of charm, but I may have been correct in my earlier assessment – this may be a game best suited for children old enough not to re-enact Koru’s fighting moves on their siblings. I found the game very easy (except for the rail segments) and between the lack of a challenge or a gripping storyline, I had difficulty staying engaged to the end. However, this would likely be a fantastic game for parents to play with their children, and as such, it gets a solid recommendation from me.