Words by Milo Fisher
I recently got to play the first 30 minutes of the upcoming indie platformer The Last Tinker. While the game is in need of some serious polish, it has the potential to be the next big indie darling.
The Last Tinker is set in a world where beings known as Tinkers built the coulorful world out of only cardboard and glue. As technology developed, the colours slowly became elitist and separated themselves from each other, leaving the world void of any beauty. The main character Koru is the last known tinker to be alive, and after his friend is badly hurt by a red elitist, he must embark on a journey to reunite the world and all its colours.
The game starts in the outskirts of the city, where all colours live in harmony, and it’s here where the games beauty is instantly seen. The game takes advantage of the aesthetic of having everything be made out of cardboard and paper by making everything look like it was made out of paper mache, and it’s just great to look at. The game has a very similar vibe to Viva Piñata in its design, characters look like animal-human hybrids with nice little bits of flair added on, and comical character expressions that help make Kuro a highly likeable protagonist.
While the design is great, there’s very little interactivity with the environment. The opening levels involve a fun fair with lots of mini games, but there’s no possible interaction with any of them, nor with any of the people walking around. This makes the game feel like an art gallery where you can look at what’s going on, but you can’t touch any of it. It’s even stranger when characters invite Kuro to do something, such as run in a giant hamster wheel, and Kuro isn’t allowed to do it. The only people Kuro can interact with are those who move the story forward. I would have loved the ability to respond to the bullies who were yelling slurs at me, but alas I could not.
The music is something worth praising. While I only got to experience roughly three different tracks, each one had echoes of the Spyro series within, managing to capture the feeling of adventure and wonder perfectly. The characters talk with mumbles and grumbles, and while I would prefer actual voices, they work well enough to give the characters personalities.
The two biggest concerns for me where with the combat and follower system. The games combat is as mundane as you get, bash the B button until every enemy is dead. I hope that the combat evolves later in the full game, but from what I saw, it was just button mashing on enemies that didn’t fight back. The other issue is the mechanic of the follower. One mission involved whistling to make a giant mentally disabled mushroom follow me to certain points in an area to collect spores. This involves spamming the LB button to whistle repeatedly in order to make him follow you, as going more than five feet away would cause him to become lost. This slowed the game right down, and made exploring the area incredibly boring. I hope that the full game keeps these segments to a minimum, as slowly walking around a world that’s meant to be explored quickly is just plain boring. Imagine if you could only crawl through levels in Sonic the Hedgehog, it would be no fun! And that’s what the follower missions feel like in The Last Tinker.
While I only got to experience the short opening of The Last Tinker, I have a strong belief that with a little more polish, the game could become a fantastic platformer adventure game. With the game being released at some point later this year, there’s more than enough time to polish the game and make it truly fantastic.