“Is it unfair to compare games to each other?” This is a question I often wonder, because critics like myself do this whenever they see two games similar in vein. The tactic of comparing two games is used as it may help reviewing the game easier, and get it towards its target audience. Sometimes the comparisons make sense, and sometimes it doesn’t because the two games could share one minor similarity but be incredibly different. Remember when everyone was comparing Cuphead to Dark Souls because both games are incredibly hard? Firstly, Dark Souls didn’t invent difficulty, and secondly Cuphead is not a third person action RPG like Dark Souls. It is a 2D run and gun similar to that of Contra. In fact, Contra is listed as one of the main inspirations to the gameplay of Cuphead. Why didn’t critics compare it to inspiration rather than another game with a high difficulty curve? Part of it could be due to not playing every game that has ever existed, which is understandable, but another part of it could be due to how the game they are comparing their review topic to being the most familiar and recognizable. More people know what Skyrim is rather than Outer Wilds. More people know Final Fantasy than Nier: Automata. At this point, I think people need to play more games outside of genres and series they are comfortable with.
However, that’s not to say comparing games to each other is bad. Some comparisons are fair, and when the influences and inspirations are clear and you know what they are then you can make a fair comparison. For example, recently Wild Hearts came out and it’s mainly getting compared to Monster Hunter. You run around these big open areas, hunt down gigantic beings, hack away at them because slaying monsters is hard, and then topple them towards the ground. Harvest their parts and use them to craft stronger armor and weapons. Wild Hearts is literally trying to be like Monster Hunter with the only difference being a mechanic to build gadgets and structures. The comparison is fair, because both games play identically and follow a similar formula. Same goes with comparing a soulslike to the games they take inspiration from. They wear their influences on their sleeves and occasionally make nods to Dark Souls. Death’s Gambit made a joke early on where Death made up a fake prophecy where you had to ring the bells, and almost every single soulslike has a checkpoint or experience point recovery system to that of Dark Souls. Comparing games to each other is only fair if both games are similarly designed or of similar genres. Now these rules don’t always work, but it allows comparisons to make more sense.
This brings me to Tinykin, a cute little indie made by Splashteam and published by TinyBuild. If you don’t know, TinyBuild are guys who made Keep Talking and No One Explodes and helped out with the Hello Neighbor franchise…. oh. Doubts aside, they do publish good titles and last year we got Not For Broadcast and of course Tinykin. An adventure set in our world following a tiny man as he controls an army of colorful creatures. He throws them around, makes them carry objects, and solves puzzles using their unique abilities. I don’t know if you guys know what it is, but Tinykin draws heavily from the Pikmin franchise. A series of games made by Nintendo which followed the exact description I just gave. I played a little bit of the first one and never tried out the second, but I played the third one years ago and remember absolutely loving it. A visually beautiful experience with great exploration, resource management, and working against time. Pikmin is honestly great, and I know a lot of Pikmin fans were excited when they saw Tinykin trying to be a successor to it. I heard so many critics compare Tinykin to Pikmin, and it seemed reasonable on the surface. I was excited going in, but when I finally stepped out I realized what they described was wrong. This is not like Pikmin. There’s no troop management nor any time restraints to worry. This isn’t even following a similar formula, it's a 3D platformer. No, what I got was something better. That’s right, big twist! Tinykin is not Pikmin, but I absolutely love this game. A confident 3D platformer with great puzzles, charming world and humor, and a story that got interesting later on. Tinykin made my heart bubble with joy. It’s really short, but those six hours are the best I’ve spent with a game and I can’t believe I didn’t play this sooner. Today we'll be talking about why I love Tinykin and why it deserves your attention.
We follow Milo, a pink haired scientist who lives on the planet of Aegis. Currently the home of the human race and all their technological achievements. Humans have made wonderful progress with time and even managed to achieve world peace. Sharing their knowledge, developing tech such as flying cars and human teleporters, and preventing pollution. Everything is swell for the human race, but Milo wants to achieve more. He believes there is more outside of Aegis, and he eventually discovers that humans did not originate from Aegis. Instead, they came from planet Earth and Milo soon detects a signal from earth showing that human life still remains. Wanting to see who this figure is and what they can tell him about mankind’s origins, Milo begins building a device that can send him directly to earth and back. Sadly, things do not go as planned and Milo is sent to earth with no way home. He wakes up unconscious on what appears to be a wooden floor, and when he looks around he finds himself inside a regular house.
To his surprise however, he's really tiny. Turns out mankind has shrunk over the years, and Milo will discover what caused them to shrink. In the meantime though he has to navigate the house and figure out how to get home. A fuzzy moth creature carrying a staff name Ridmi encounters Milo and states he’s willing to help him with his cause. Ridmi leads him through an air duct and to a sanctuary containing the smartest bugs in the house. Ridmi leads the pact of bugs, and says he has the blueprints to build a teleporter to send Milo home. Bad news is the parts they need are scattered throughout the house and are being contained by the many sanctions and villages living in the house. So Milo has to negotiate with the people of these places and help them out, and along the way he encounters these small orb-like creatures named Tinykin by Ridmi. They are cheerful, energetic, and want to follow Milo around compared to the bugs. Together they work to get what Milo needs to venture back home.
Tinykin is not Pikmin but instead a 3D platformer based around exploration, puzzle solving, and collecting everything you see in sight. I love 3D platformers, I stated this a ton of times in the past. It’s a genre I need to play more entries for, and luckily Tinykin just so happened to fulfill the need I’ve been wanting for a good 3D platformer. The movement isn’t very complex. You don’t have a wide array of manuevers like in Psychonauts 2 or Super Mario Odyssey, but it is still very fun to maneuver around. Your feet are swift, you can form a bubble that allows you to float about for a short period of time, and later on you get a soapboard which allows you to surf around and glide up threads to higher areas. If you know when to whip up the floatation bubble and soap you can be extremely fast and speedrun through areas. They even have these little races that test your reflexes and nimbleness. You don’t have to be fast, but I love when developers give you the option to just go outside what they originally intended.
There are a total of six main levels in the game and each one is a different section to the house. You may find a kitchen and find the entire place is farmland. Step into the bathroom and find it’s a total beach rave party up in there. Enter a child’s playroom and find the bugs have transformed it into a complex amusement park. Every area contains a ton of verticality, nooks and crannies to look into, and things to collect. One collectible you want to be on the lookout for is Pollen. These golden orbs may not be of much use at first and you can’t buy anything with them, but if you collect enough within an area you can speak to this one NPC who gives you a bubble charge. This increases the amount of time you can float around in the air using your bubble float ability, and potentially travel large distances and to places you wouldn’t get to easily.
Now, the big highlight of Tinykin are of course the Tinykin. These adorable one eyed creatures who look like germs and scream at the top of their lungs when thrown. These guys are what you are going to need to solve puzzles, interact with your environment, and do what you have to do to progress. Pink Tinykin are the most basic ones. They are strong, can weigh down objects, push them, and even carry things to other locations you need them to be. Red Tinykin are explosive and can destroy objects covered in matchsticks. When used on an explosive object they are gone and you’ll have to get more. Green Tinykin can be stacked up like a ladder and help you reach higher areas. The more you have of them the better. Blue Tinykin can be connected to electrical sockets to create power and activate electronics, but much like Red Tinykin they are gone once used. Well, they don’t suicide bomb but rather just stay there to charge the electronic. Yep, these guys will die for you. Yellow Tinykin are similar to Green Tinykin, but instead of stacking up they instead form into platforms. Creating slopes you can use to reach areas or help those Pink ones carry an object to where it needs to be. Tinykin are literally everywhere. They can hatch from eggs or be freed from cages around the house. Unlike Pikmin though, Tinykin you collected can’t be transferred to other areas, so when entering a new area you must collect more Tinykin.
Outside of that there isn’t much else to say about the game. There’s side quests that you can do that reward you with more Pollen and collectibles, but nothing mechanically different. It’s your standard 3D platformer with a unique gimmick, but that’s just about enough for me. It’s a fun game with simple ideas that expand through level design and introduction of new Tinykin. Just like Pikmin, it gets more expansive and that’s what I like about these games. Simple and easy to play, but complex with time. Hopefully you can assemble the device and make it back home.
Tinykin was a pure delight to play through. Again, this is not Pikmin nor does it play like it. If you go expecting nothing but a spiritual successor to Pikmin then you are going to be severely disappointed. Why set yourself up for disappointment when you can just go in blind and experience it for what it is? Tinykin is a well designed 3D puzzle platformer with satisfying progression, charming writing, and smiles all around. It’s not often I play a game that is just pure good vibes, and it’s not often I play a good 3D platformer. Demon Turf and Blue Fire bummed me out, but Tinykin may just be my favorite 3D indie platformer now. I love the world and universe of this game. In Pikmin anything that was out and about in the wild wanted to kill you and eat your Pikmin up. They’re just flailing about and you’re trying to keep everything under control. Here in Tinykin everything's just really calm. Nothing wants to kill you and you won’t ever have to fight anything because there’s no combat in this game. No combat means you will never have to worry about losing Tinykin, and you can just run around and go at your own pace. This does remove the resource management Pikmin is known for, but why bother.
There’s no time limit in Tinykin to force you to work faster, and the only Tinykin that you have to worry about how much you have are the red and blue ones. You can accumulate a lot of these buggers while exploring areas and it’s just fun to see them follow you around. They don’t give you the option to bring Tinykin you collected to other areas. Tinykin you get stay in the zone you got them in. There are reasons as to why they do this. If you could just carry your Tinykin into the next zones then they would break the pacing and progression of each level. That and they would also bug out the game as too many Tinykin following you would lead to more framerate drops. I like how everything that can be lit is usually colored red or coated in matchsticks, and if I remember correctly electrical sockets are either blue or emit blue electricity. Pollen is really fun to collect and sometimes I look back at previous spots in the level I explored to see all the pollen gone. Showing I cleared out the place and I could clear out the next corner of the level. Each level may seem big at first, but trust me you can clear each one pretty quickly. Thanks to the fast movement and fluid controls you can navigate areas in a breeze. If you have trouble spotting key items or where you need to go you can just whip out the VR google and icons will show you where important spots are. Everything gameplay wise is perfectly designed, and I love it.
I love the art direction and the visual style they went for. I’m betting a huge chunk of the game’s budget went to designing all the environments and set pieces. None of which have the greatest detailing in the world, but they are colorful and wonderful to prance around in. Each area feels distinct from the last, and important structures and lighting helps guide you towards where you may need to be. The world uses 3D models, but the characters are all animated. Everyone is a toon sprite and expresses their emotions through animation. It’s not the most fluid animation in the world, but I love the design of the characters and how they got 2D animated characters to work wonderfully with the game. I thought the game would be extremely buggy, but besides a couple of minor framerate drops the game ran beautifully. Speaking of bugs, the game is full of them. Like all the characters besides you are bugs, and certain bug species have special positions in the universe. The designs to these bugs are very cute, and I just love games where the cast is represented with creatures we usually find disgusting and make them look cute at the same time. Reason why I love Hollow Knight and Bug Fables so much. Any game where the cast is bugs gets an extra score point from me. The story isn’t much at first and is basically just a hunt for parts, but there’s an end twist later on that explains why things are the way they are. It’s a sweet and heartwarming moment which then leads to a very satisfying conclusion. Besides that I don’t really have any complaints with Tinykin. The only thing I can say is that it’s short. It took me six hours to beat it and that’s with doing a majority of sidequests and collecting nearly all the pollen. It may be replayable for some and not for others, but I do speedrun potential with this game. Can’t wait to see the crazies try to do challenge runs with it. No complaints whatsoever, and overall this gets a strong recommendation from me. Tinykin is a joyful masterpiece and I wish to see more games like this in the future. In the end I give Tinykin a 9.5/10 for excellence at best.
This critique was written by the single man at Review on. Stay tuned for more content and feel free to check more reviews out over at my site!