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August 2022


Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: tinyBuild
Developer: The Splashteam
Release Date: Aug. 30, 2022


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Switch/PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'Tinykin'

by Cody Medellin on June 17, 2022 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Milo has re-discovered Earth! As he lands on the planet, he learns that he's as small as a penny ... and it's the '90s.

Tinykin puts players in the role of Milo, a young but ingenious inventor who has created a device that searches for intelligent life on other planets. It takes some time, but the device found what Milo was looking for, so the boy takes the first warp zone to the newly discovered place. Upon arrival, things aren't quite what he had imagined. Not only are there giant talking bugs on the new planet, but he is tiny in this new world, and he runs around in a giant, abandoned house. To get home, he needs to help the insects get the necessary parts for their own great device.

The base gameplay mechanic can be described as being like Pikmin. Milo never does much with objects, except for collecting nectar that can be traded for new abilities. To do most of the major things, he needs Tinykin, which can easily be obtained by running over their eggs. The demo featured two types, with one being good at lifting things and the other becoming living bombs when thrown. You have to aim where you want to throw each Tinykin and mash on the trigger or hold it down to throw, but the game takes care of the rest by automatically selecting the correct type for the given object and ensuring that those Tinykin always know where they're going.

At the same time, Milo can do much more than Captain Olimar ever could. He can climb ropes and take leaps with a bubble that can slow down his descent. He can also conjure up a bar of soap to quickly traverse the environment. He can also use that bar of soap to grind on string that's created by other insects, and he can do so without worrying about keeping his balance. All the while, the Tinykin automatically follow you without you creating a pathway, so the action goes by much faster, especially with no time limit to halt your exploration of these sizable rooms.

After the tutorial area, you're sent to a new room filled mostly with musical instruments. The objective is to get a banner, but to do that, you'll need to move a CD to a place where it can be played. You can try having the Tinykin carry the CD, and they know exactly where the stereo is, but you need to unblock their path by opening the cathedral and lowering the platform that they need to cross over. Get that done, and you're tasked with finding a necessary conduit and the "Play" button before the music can begin. Along the way, there are side-quests that you can undertake, such as finding a lost piano mechanic, getting proof of a terrible monster in a shelf, and finding a shiny gem.

The multitude of quests and the scope of the world gives the game some real appeal. There's plenty to explore, and even if it leads to more nectar to collect, the desire to scour the world doesn't die down. Seeing everything in miniature still provides a sense of awe. While the demo featured more puzzles and no enemy encounters, the characters had interesting things to say. Many of the main quests are essentially fetch quests, but it's all done in a way that doesn't make them annoying. The associated dialogue and nature of the side-quests is good enough that you'll want to seek them out, even if you don't normally go for 100% of the goals in most games.

Aside from the gameplay, the presentation is masterfully done. The characters are all done in a Paper Mario style, where they look like they came out of a modern animated series but retain their 2D flatness. Unlike Mario's RPG adventure, the characters always face you, so you'll see their facial reactions instead of their backsides. The environments are all done in traditional 3D but with a shading that makes them look animated but a little less pronounced. The styles clash in a way that looks more charming than off-putting, especially since everything moves at a constant 60fps.

The audio is another highlight, specifically the music, which might be the same tune on a loop but is dynamic enough depending on where you are. Enter the church, and the background music takes on a choir quality, while exploring an old piano transforms that same background tune into a piano-heavy instrumental. With the attention placed on the demo level, the other stages should provide similar charms, visually and audio-wise.

The only issue that needs some attention is the jumping. You have decent height but drop rather quickly, while the flat nature of Milo makes it a little tough to judge where you'll land. It doesn't help that the bubble mechanic wants you to press the jump button at the apex to get the most height out of it, but the weight causes you to frequently miss the bubble jump target. Hopefully this is addressed by the game's full release or a post-launch patch.

So far, Tinykin is showing off a ton of potential. Beyond the striking graphical style lies a Pikmin-style game with lots to do due to a multitude of side-quests. The characters and the world are charming enough that you'll want to dig through every nook and cranny, even after you complete the main objectives. The full game is scheduled to hit at the end of August, and we can't wait to see what else the title has to offer.

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