Tinykin has come out of relatively nowhere to surprise, delight, and earn itself a spot on my personal Game of the Year list. It has been an absolute joy to play this last week or so, and I would have had this review up sooner had I not just wanted to keep playing instead of writing.
From the word go, Tinykin just exudes charm and joy from every pixel. From our protagonist Milodane through the Tinykin themselves, and the world we find ourselves in, there’s nothing here that doesn’t serve a purpose in both gameplay and sheer, wonderful joy.
The crux of the gameplay will feel very familiar to a subset of Nintendo fans – if, like me, you’ve enjoyed a Pikmin or two in the past, this is an even easier recommendation. We run around large areas, collect Tinykin, and use their abilities to overcome obstacles otherwise insurmountable on our own. It’s not a like for like comparison, but that Pikmin-esque feel runs throughout this entire game.
Instead of exploring the great outdoors, here we take on the role of Milodane, a scientist from the planet Aegis. Although Humanity has thrived here, he theorises that the species actually originated from a different planet. After discovering a distinctly Human-like signal emanating from a planet in another galaxy, he sets out with his trusty dog Nevus to see if he is correct.
Upon landing, we find that Milo is actually only a few inches tall, and the human home we find him in towers above. Much like Pikmin, the sense of scale is awesome; a simple set of stairs become mountainous, while even simple things like cubes of sugar require help to move. There are around half a dozen rooms we can explore, each packed with detail and charm, as well as tonnes of things to see, find, and do. We meet plenty of NPC’s too in the form of Silverfish, Shield bugs, and more, each with their own stories and character that help bring this world to life even more.
A quick tutorial sets us up with the first Tinykin. Coming in several colours, these handy creatures are hatched from eggs dotted around the area by running into them, and will follow us anywhere in the room. Making use of their abilities is the way forward, as you’d expect, and each colour offers specific uses; Pink can carry items; Yellow build bridges; Blue can conduct electricity; Red explode on contact when thrown; Green can be stacked up to create a makeshift tower. Unlike Nintendo’s game, these can only be used for these specific purposes though. We can’t borrow a few Blue to help carry something, for example. Handily, the cursor to throw them will auto-choose the correct Tinykin for the job, saving us the effort.
Also different is the fact that each room’s Tinykin are bound to that area. There are more than enough Tinykin in each room to complete all of the objectives, but when we move on we must build a new army from the supplied eggs in the new area. Initially I wasn’t so keen on this, but it doesn’t take long to build up the required resources to carry on and at this point I feel it was the right choice for the game. I already ended up with a huge surplus in each room as it is, without combining them all together.
Traversing the rooms is simple, but great fun. The areas are packed with incidental detail, character dialogue, and easter eggs that meant I was never bored or rushing to clear a room. In fact, as alluded to up top, if anything the detail meant it took me much longer to beat as I wanted to try and see everything I could.
Each room has a main objective to complete, with the aim to collect a specific part of a machine in each in order to build a ship to get home. There are also several side missions to unlock that grant collectables, and these proved to be just as engaging as the main story. Some of the situations had me grinning from ear to ear, and the use of witty dialogue to tell a story was pitch perfect for me. The main side objective we need to do though is to collect the hundreds of pollen particles dotted about the level. Reaching a certain amount allows us to unlock a further bubble for our glide ability, letting us explore even more of the house and find more missions. When I say hundreds, I mean hundreds, with the lowest one being around 500 in one room. Sounds a lot, but in reality collecting this amount is easily done just by going about our business, and in fact I all but completely collected every pollen piece in each room, with there being more than is needed for the bubble within each.
That phrase ‘easily done’ could be applied to the game as a whole though, to be honest. There is no combat at all, so it is just us exploring to our hearts content. It’s incredibly fun, but also really rather easy. From the objectives all being fairly simple puzzles to solve, to not needed to worry about moving our Tinykin about (they just float behind us no matter where we go), there’s very little real challenge here. Perhaps some tighter restrictions on the number of Tinykin available, or even some optional challenge rooms would have been great, but as it is most players will easily be able to get through each room as long as they are willing to put in the time.
This feels like a nitpick though, as while it’s not hard, it is utterly brilliant fun at all times. Again, the detail, Easter eggs, and whimsical, funny writing combine with solid mechanics to make a game that I just could not put down. Coming from ex-Ubisoft/Rayman devs, this has an utterly brilliant, unique art style too, popping with colour and life. The 2D character sprites always face the screen (setting up a funny aside by one NPC later on), and the 3D worlds are great looking and fun to explore.
Tinykin has utterly caught me off guard in all the best ways. It’s a joy to play from start to finish, with simple yet fun mechanics letting us explore this giant house and find something new and exciting in every nook and cranny. A lack of real challenge lets it down a fraction, but that’s a small gripe in what is otherwise an excellent experience.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.