An easy recommendation for 3D platformer fans
Tinykin isn’t the Pikmin-inspired game I thought it would be, but that’s okay. More than okay, actually. It’s still a great 3D platformer with a slick sense of speed, an interesting world to explore, and yes, some nods to Nintendo’s creature-chucking strategy series.
If you’re someone who enjoys hunting down collectibles, it’s a must-play. If you’re more on the fence, and run the risk of feeling overwhelmed with too many trinkets to find, I can still recommend Tinykin. It’s never unreasonable, and there’s little if any downtime.
The indie game scene has been killing it with shorter yet still satisfying experiences, and this one’s a fantastic distillation, albeit with a few elements I wish went further.
The story isn’t necessarily a huge focus, but there’s enough to latch onto with animated sequences to set the stage and insect NPC chatter to fill in some of the gaps.
In search of humankind’s origin, an archeologist and researcher, Milodane, has left his advanced home world of Aegis to follow an ancient signal to a nearby galaxy. That’s where we come in as players. Milo mysteriously surfaces in a cluttered house that’s stuck in the ’90s and run by colorful insects, and, well — he’s their size. It’s another shrunken setup.
There’s no sign of humans, and to return home, Milo will need to finish building a special machine — envisioned by a fabled figure named Ardwin — using six specific household objects. During this search, Milo will be guided by the wise old Ridmi, and use tiny throwable creatures to solve problems and open up new paths for exploration.
This isn’t a Pikmin clone
On paper, this all might sound heavily Pikmin-esque. And it is, to a point. But it’s worth stressing that Tinykin has no combat, no day cycle, and there’s a finite number of tinykin, so death is never a concern. Instead, you can think of them as another type of collectible.
This game is a true 3D platformer — one that just so happens to have little fellas who carry giant objects, blast open obstacles, form bridges, and conduct electricity.
Traversal is quick and snappy
Once I realized this would be format, I was committed. It just feels so smooth.
Shortly into the six-hour-or-so adventure, you’ll have access to a skateboard-like soap bar that you can whip out at any moment and even use to grind across tightropes. Paired with a hovering bubble ability, and a fantastic insta-ladder you can form with a certain type of tinykin, you can quickly get to where you need to go, even if it’s far off or high up.
Tinykin gives off the wondrous vibe of a Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie in that it’s inherently fun to check out every inch of the world. That said, it’s also streamlined.
Instead of collecting high-impact stars or jiggies, you’re on the lookout for tinykin eggs to hatch, hundreds of bits of pollen (to upgrade your bubble), a few side-objectives lurking around, and whatever’s needed to get the area’s machine part. These coveted parts usually involve multiple steps before you can convince the resident insects to cooperate.
There’s some wiggle room depending on how obsessive you get, but for me, every level took about an hour — a good length, given their hub-like nature. I wasn’t overwhelmed, and I never dreaded treading the same ground. Tinykin nails its movement and flow.
And the puzzles feel natural
Similarly, the puzzles are breezy. If the solutions aren’t immediately clear, more often than not, you’ll figure out how to solve them as you get a lay of the land. The more you explore, the more followers you’ll have, and the more areas you’ll be able to reach. Some of the zones include a bathroom with towers of tissue paper, a carnival with a loop-filled toy race track, and a church with a compact-disc-based canticle. I loved the “DIY” level design.
The tinykin are great about holding onto (smaller) stuff until you need it for a quest, and in general, there’s no need to “babysit” them, either. You can dash around like a madman and they’ll always pop up right behind you, no matter the death-defying acrobatic feat.
I’m a little torn on the explosive tinykin, though. They’re used to blast open barriers and unfurl shortcut strings for you to climb up, among other expendable jobs. More than any other form of tinykin, these ones feel less like living creatures, and more like ammo in a video game. This didn’t outright bother me — and from a gameplay perspective, it all feels good — but in terms of my attachment (something Pikmin excels at), it lost me a bit.
And as much as I adored the standout character designs, I didn’t always feel the need to stop and chat with every random insect. The dialogue has some decent lighthearted humor, but I enjoyed Tinykin‘s cleverly-defined factions on a more… thematic level. Most of the interactions are optional, though, and the main story beats aren’t verbose.
Not too long, not too short
With so many directions to head in and collectibles scattered every which way, it’s impressive how well Tinykin flows. It doesn’t get bogged down with minutia that can threaten 3D platformers. Every level feels like it’s spaced out just right, and there’s almost always something drawing your gaze. Even when there isn’t, it’s a joy to zip around.
If you’re looking to do “all of the main stuff,” expect a pretty methodical six hours. If you’re a full completionist, you’ll probably need a few extra hours to circle back around and mop up any of the optional pollen pick-ups you missed in each level — some of them are so tucked away. I appreciated the extra challenge and eventual a-ha moments.
Even if I would’ve liked a touch more Pikmin-style horde-commanding strategy, and maybe one more traversal ability to shake things up, I still really enjoyed Tinykin as a fluid and fun gotta-find-’em-all platformer. It’s polished enough to stand out in the crowd.
The next time you’re in the mood for a no-nonsense 3D platformer, give Tinykin a look.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]