These days, the majority of video games feature violence, overly gray wartime or post-apocalyptic settings, blood, gore, strong language, and gruff anti-heroes. Of course, that all sounds great, but sometimes a more lighthearted, colorful, and just plain pleasant game is what you need, and there are fewer of those today than ever before (especially on non-Nintendo platforms). The Last Tinker: City of Colors is an upcoming third person action platformer stuffed to brim with vibrant color and a cheery atmosphere, and it simply oozes charm at every turn.
The first thing that will hit everyone almost immediately about The Last Tinker is its unique and striking visual presentation. The game is set in a world where everything anyone would ever need, be it food, structures, or even pets, can be constructed out of everyday art and crafting materials. This gives the environments a very appealing visual style that evokes things like LittleBigPlanet and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The game world looks as though it was crafted by hand, and the strong attention to detail and vibrant color palette combined with the unique aesthetic come together to make The Last Tinker one of the most beautiful games around.
So it looks great, but how does it play? The answer to that is a tentative “pretty good.” The demo build of the game we played wasn’t particularly long, and basically only consisted of the game’s intro segment, ending just as the main plot seemed to be getting underway. Being the game’s intro, much of content was introduction to mechanics and design concepts. So, while we able to get a feel for the game’s various gameplay mechanics and systems, there wasn’t much opportunity to really get into them beyond a tutorial-like setting. The foundation of The Last Tinker seems very solid, there’s just no way to know how the execution fares in the meat of the game.
The Last Tinker has platforming sensibilities, but doesn’t handle quite like a typical 3D platformer. Interestingly, there is no dedicated jump button, instead the game implements a somewhat Assassin’s Creed style free-running system. By holding down the right trigger, your character will sprint and automatically jump across any gaps you come across. The main platforming on display during this portion of the game consisted of jumping from rock to rock across a body of water. It’s as simple as holding the run button and pointing the stick in the direction of your intended target, but it feels intuitive and responsive. You might think that makes the platforming brain-dead easy, and while at times it is, even in this introductory area the game showed how challenge could be implemented, and it’s through timing rather than precision. The game will allow you to jump even if there is no safe target, so times when the platforms were moving did present somewhat of a challenge, and it’s easy to imagine the later level design ramping things up quite a bit.
Outside of platforming, the other main element of gameplay is combat, and it’s taken more than a little inspiration from Batman, though it isn’t nearly as complex as the Arkham games. At least in this early portion of the game, a single button is used for attacks, and you have the ability to swiftly and effortlessly swap between enemies like you can in the Arkham games. Just like those games, enemies that are about to attack get a marker over their heads, though rather than having a dedicated counter button you only need to strike them to interrupt their attacks. You also have a dodge move, which can be chained into an attack if you dodge in the direction of an enemy. The combat featured in this demo was all very easy, (though the game does sport several difficulty levels) but it has a nice flow and satisfying sense of impact.
The game also features a bit of puzzle solving, though it was the weakest portion of the demo. The puzzle solving involved escorting a mushroom creature around to various patches of dirt, with the main mechanics being your ability to call him over to you or use certain objects to change his size. This didn’t present any sort meaningful challenge, and quite honestly felt like busywork. It’s highly possible the puzzle sequences become more complex as the game goes, this was the introduction to these mechanics after all, but the introductions to the other mechanics were far more engaging. Even in this weakest segment of the demo, the game still exuded an extraordinary sense of whimsy thanks to the charming character and environment design as well as the pleasant music.
The Last Tinker: City of Colors looks to be a game with great potential. The game controls great, and its systems are well developed and present a great foundation for compelling gameplay, even if what we’ve seen of them in this early stage was fairly basic and straightforward. The graphics are quite impressive, an outstanding blend of technical proficiency and an unbelievably charming and striking visual style. With its astounding visuals, solid mechanics, and interesting world, The Last Tinker has all the makings of a great game, and it is definitely one to keep an eye on as development continues.