I was a bit of a prick when I was a kid. If my brother slaved away at a monolithic Lego structure it eventually wound up smashed into piles of polychromatic rubble. The twisted glee found in sending those plastic bricks soaring across the living room eventually grew into something of an obsession. Destruction became the end-goal of everything I'd come to build: sandcastles, box-forts, card houses; smashing that shit into oblivion seemed well worth the painstaking effort of putting it all together.
Whilst playing through 'Tiny and Big: Grandpa's Leftovers' by Black Pants Studios, that long-dormant character trait seemed to resurface.
In Tiny and Big you play as Tiny, a safety-goggled humanoid looking to reclaim a pair of mystical underpants stolen by his nemesis, Big. It's not exactly on par with War and Peace but I wasn't there for the story; I was there to wreck stuff. Tiny comes equipped with a laser (for slicing), a rope & grappling hook (for pulling) and an inexhaustible supply of rockets (for propelling masonry through the air faster than my brother's Lego bricks). You'll be hard-pressed to find any part of a level that can't be hacked to pieces, and although linear paths to your goal often exist, there's little stopping you from crashing through the level like a laser-toting hurricane.
Each area presents a wonderfully crafted playground that must have taken months of arduous work to piece together. Mighty pillars stand proudly, tribal statues hang precariously over adorable mole-like creatures, and large aggregations of debris are held aloft by single shaky pillars; at every turn the game tempts you into destruction. The laser cuts with a satisfying slice, causing rubble to fall with a resounding THUD! The visceral thrill is only enhanced when the levels start fighting back. Once you've sliced and pulled an object it'll come tumbling down in your direction, leaving you no choice but to high-tail it to safety before you're crushed by your own hubris. The cinematic delight in slicing a boulder that's rocketing straight at you is hard to match, and before long you'll be chuckling to yourself at the thought of the cataclysm you've wrought.
Don't act too proudly, though, as often the environments get the last laugh. Swing that laser around too liberally and you may just slice apart the only ramp that leads out of the level. This is a unfortunate byproduct of the liberating openness that Tiny and Big offers, and thankfully, game-breaking situations are a rarity. The gods of Tiny and Big's physics engine are cruel deities, also, and if you haven't sacrificed their very specific breed of goat prior to booting up the game then they'll think little of throwing a vital piece of bridging into a yawning abyss.
Yet, for all the irritations I can't help but feel it's all worth it. The freedom of Tiny and Big doesn't come for free, but it's definitely worth the price.
Unlike my brother, mournfully staring at his destroyed Lego, I get the impression that this is exactly what Black Pants Studios wants me to do. They've given me the bull's reigns and left the keys to the china shop on the table with their back knowingly turned. It may only have clocked in at a few hours but for making me feel like a child again I can't help but praise it, and I urge you to give it a go. Just watch out for crumbling chunks of ruin, a few frustrating moments and a reawakened passion for fucking up Lego blocks.