Colorful And Dull All At The Same Time
At first glance, it's hard to tell whether or not Tinker: City of Colors is a game, or a rather high quality animated movie. Blasts of color swarm the screen, and the simple yet utterly beautiful artwork grabs you, sucks you in and offers a world so interesting in its design that you can't help but be enchanted by the setting alone.
The game is gorgeous, and there's no denying that. The artwork in itself will be the game's major selling point, no doubt. However, you can't sell a game on its visuals alone. There has to be, well, a game there. And while Tinker : City of Colors proves itself a competent platforming adventure, it feels comfortable in being no more than just that – competent.
To break the game down into one word, simplistic ends up the best fit. Speaking of the platforming and combat that make up the majority of the title, everything feels overly streamlined and not all that engaging. The platforming is little more than simply holding a button and pushing in the direction of your choosing. Think an Assassin's Creed-esque sort of movement system, though even more simplified.
Whereas the combat is nothing but Arkham Asylum's, though stripped down and missing anything in the way of tact. Where there is a solid combat system in place, players need little more than to simply spam on the basic attack and aim in the direction of enemies. It all feels like a missed opportunity. They had everything setup for a solid combat experience, but poor design leaves combat feeling dull.
The game does offer its fair share of puzzles though and, luckily, the game handles them better than it does its other elements, allowing for a number of entertaining breaks between the game's bulk of less engaging content.
Segments like sneaking your way through a well guarded tower serves as a standout section of the game, whereas more simple moments, such as controlling a certain yellow mushroom character whose aid is needed at times to traverse otherwise inaccessible sections of the map serve as nice distractions and really should have played more of a focus in the game itself.
Even the story is a rather simple one, though that isn't to say it wasn't engaging. Following in the shoes of Koru, a monkey-like protagonist whose image I couldn't help but continually compare to that of Jamie Hewlett's modern re-interpretation of Monkey from Monkey: Journey To the West, players are tasked with restoring Tinkerworld of its color. After being tricked into unleashing a power known as the Bleakness, which serves to drain the world of its color, rendering the world dead and its inhabitants powerless, it is left in Koru's hands to track down the one responsible for releasing the power in the first place and, ultimately, stopping the power as a whole, restoring the land to its once serene state.
It's an interesting story, touching on elements such as racism and segregation. Elements unexpected in a story otherwise relatively easy-spirited and Saturday morning cartoon-esque. While it is short on overall plot, it was an engaging story and, much like the puzzles, served to distract from lesser elements of the title.
I have very mixed feeling when it comes to The Last Tinker: City of Colors. Artistically, the game is fantastic. They've created a world that, while not entirely fleshed out, is still entirely engrossing. It's beautiful to look at and explore, though it is filled with weak gameplay and an overall lack of diverse content. It focuses far too much on its weakest elements, leaving stronger elements of the game an afterthought.
Bottom Line: Would I recommend the title? Not quite. Not without a price drop, anyway. There's just too much wrong here to claim it justifies a full asking price. With that said, I do hope the game serves developer Mimimi Productions well. As their first attempt at a large PC release, they far from failed. They have the base of what could be a fantastic follow-up, or even for a new title in the same vein. Next time around they simply need to pay mind to what they do well, and what they need to work on. Hopefully then they can offer a truly well-rounded experience. Until then, what we have is a title that is serviceable, but not much more.