Tin Hearts is an utterly charming puzzle adventure that I grew very fond of, even as I butted my head up against the sometimes lengthy and tricky puzzle rooms.
Sometimes, a game comes along that just wins its way into my heart from the word go, and Tin Hearts does just that; from the beautifully colourful visuals, down to the adorable tin men we need to guide to the rooms’ exits, and including a wonderfully composed soundtrack. It’s been an utter joy to play, only hindered by a certain Hyrulian that has taken my attention away…
The gist of Tin Hearts is simple; it’s a puzzle title through and through, in this case tasking us with guiding the titular tin men – little wind up dolls – to an exit. Each puzzle takes place in a different room of the house we find ourselves in, and I’m reminded of the wonderful Tinykin in the sense of scale and excellently presented way the puzzles fit naturally into the environment. This is helped somewhat by the home owner in this case being a toy maker, allowing the puzzles to take on even grander scales buy utilising various contraptions invented by said home owner, Albert Butterworth.
The little soldiers make the most of scaled down ladders, bouncing drums, wooden trains, balloons and much more to traverse the rooms. As we progress we gain extra abilities to manipulate these too, letting us set the angle of the drums, or aim a toy cannon in order to knock a ladder down. And despite occasionally simple looking premises, developer Rogue Sun don’t shy away of utilising the full room’s spaces, often having us doubling back over ourselves in order to reach the goal.
As well as the big toys, we’re also granted blocks that can be picked up and placed down. The tin men will only walk in a straight line until told otherwise with a diverting block or obstacle, and so it falls to us to place these correctly to get them where we want them. These blocks come in a few varieties, with some being able to be placed anywhere and others only on the corresponding cut out shape. There were more than a few times this proved far more intricate than I expected too, as these blocks have more than one use, able as they are to be flipped on all axis before putting down.
Later on, we’re granted control over one tin soldier directly, with yet more surprisingly in-depth puzzle platforming to contend with. The rest of the soldiers keep on their automated march while we jump around, and we can stop controlling him at any point should we need to keep an eye on them.
I’ve found that some puzzles can take quite some time to clear, both due to the complexity and sheer size. One memorable example had me out in the garden, needing to use almost all of the tricks learnt up until then to navigate the whole space, doubling back on myself in the process.
Even as hard as some puzzles may be, Tin Hearts ensures players aren’t left out in the cold, with several hints available to use to gently nudge us towards to solution. More immediately though are the abilities to fast forward, rewind, and pause the action at any time. These prove invaluable to give us the time to scout to room, and plan a route (and then rewind it when it all goes horribly wrong). It a remarkably lenient game, and uses this leniency to push us further.
As the puzzles can drag on a bit, I’ve found most success in tackling a handful at a time before calling it a night, though again that is also pesky Zelda calling me… Tin Hearts fits the mold of the perfect chill out title, and after a long days work it was really nice to sit down with it to unwind for an hour or so.
However, there is one pet peeve which I can’t fail to mention: the controls. For the most part these are as easy as you like, with the gameplay taking the form of first person, and third for when we’re controlling the soldier. I am, for my sins, an inverted kind of guy though, and Tin Hearts’ way of tackling this has proven disheartening. See, moving and looking around in first person is fine, but as soon as I picked a block up this instantly reverted to ‘normal’ i.e up is up and down is down. I’ve played the game for roughly a dozen hours now and it’s still something I’ve not gotten used to, and even gave me a smidge of motion sickness early on. I’ve tried fiddling about with the settings but to no avail, and I hope there can be some sort of patch to remedy this soon. The same goes for controlling the soldier as despite having the setting on inverted, the camera control switched to ‘normal’ as soon as I took control.
It’s all the more annoying because otherwise, Tin Hearts has won me over completely. I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent with it, and I plan to continue working my way through it slowly but surely. I’m even sorely tempted to pick it up on the Quest 2 when it launches soon as it very much feels like a game made for VR.
Camera control aside, Tin Hearts has been an utter joy to play. It’s charming, clever, looks and sounds lovely, and has just the right puzzle difficulty to have us looking forward to coming back for an hour or so each night.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.