The Last Tinker: City of Colors – As We Play

Format – PC

I adore platformers. Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Banjo Kazooie, Ratchet & Clank, Spyro The Dragon – I’ve 100%’d all of them (well, except for Spyro 3 that is 117%, for some reason). Not only famous ones, but even the more obscure platformers too. Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Blinx: The Timesweeper, and Kingsley’s Adventure sit proudly upon my shelf of platforming excellence. So imagine my joy and excitement going in to The Last Tinker: City of Colors.

First thing I discovered about the game was that it’s not a sequel. No, despite the rather long and rather extraneous title length, this is a fresh and brand new IP. Which I’m very happy about. Even since RARE got shoved into the back-end of Kinect and left to rot there hasn’t been a lot of fresh, new platformers in recent years.

Red.

The intro to the game feels like someone saw the introduction to Little Big Planet and believed they could do that again but without Stephen Fry. However, the graphic style is god damn gorgeous. I’ve spent the last few years wading through the sticky brown mess that is modern day action games, so The Last Tinker’s world looks beautiful, vibrant, and really pushes to the front what I’ve always loved about platformers – the world.

It seems my companion for this game is going to be a small floating goat demon named Tap. A sidekick isn’t unusual for a platformer, and neither is a lack of voice narration for dialogue, but the dialogue text doesn’t skip unless you hit a button after each sentence. This leaves whichever character that’s talking repeating a loop of their designated ‘talking sound’, which in the case of Tap sounds like a Scottish terrier on cocaine trying to swallow a squeaky hamburger. All other characters have similarly annoying looping dialogue noises.

Blue.

Still, small niggles I suppose. The important part here is that the world looks beautiful and the platforming is satisfying and fun, yet challenging. There’s no jump button. You hold down a button to run, and then continuing to hold it will jump you across predetermined platforms. Oh! Even better: even though you have no control of the magical running auto-jump, you can still fall off the edge if you try and auto-jump to a platform which the game has deemed unworthy of you being able to traverse. I make no qualms about it when I say, that from this point onwards, this game has almost completely lost my interest.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that the game looked bright and pretty? That’s still true, but it’s a real pain that the game chugs like a fraternity member in an American Pie movie. I’m running this sucker on a desktop that can run Crysis 1, 2, and 3 on Ultra – simultaneously. This could be a settings issue, but is more likely due to the fact the developer’s previous work appears to consist of only three board games. On iOS. However, in their defence those games didn’t have a jump button either, which may have confused them.

Green. (Are you seeing a pattern yet?)

What about the music? Dear sweet lord. Give me death, or give me Nickelback – because either of those options would be a relief right about now. The music does change by area, but the area’s music loops every 30 odd seconds. It even plays over dialogue, so now it sounds like a coked up terrier who just discovered freesound.org. Even more bizarrely, if you accidentally turn off ‘Stereo’ sound in the options menu it can never be turned back on – I assume/hope this is merely a glitch.

Finally I’ve struggled through the first few hours. Including a combat tutorial that consisted of three stages, repeated three times each, where the entire control scheme is, really, one button. Mash the button to hit, keep mashing for a combo, and if you’re really advanced you can – optionally – dodge and mash for a dodge hit. Job done. Seems every hit stun-locks enemies anyway, so unless you’re swarmed with more than five you won’t ever take a hit.

Welcome to the combat. Play along by mashing your Spacebar along with this image.

It has now struck me that this game is definitively for children. The platforming consists of holding a single button and letting the game do it for you, the combat is one button for everything, every level is a straight line linear experience, and the plot is very clichéd. There’s even a kid’s difficulty, which I can appreciate is a great option, but I tend to find most kids under the age of 10 aren’t trawling through the indie section of Steam looking for a £14.99 platform game that is trying to bring back a genre which hasn’t been popular since a decade before they were born.

I can’t take any more. Nearly eight hours in and this is one of the extremely rare times that I’m going to have to tap out. The Last Tinker is so mundane, and so mind-numbing, that it saddens me to see how much potential it had that was never used. It’s shiny, extraordinarily shiny, but that’s really is its finest element. May even have to take back my remark earlier that it was destined to be a kid’s game, because nobody in that age bracket has the patience for this.

Areas for Improvement

  • Add a jump button to this 3D platforming game.
  • Less linearity in the level design.
  • Give a reward for collecting all the collectibles. Anything. Any reward at all.
  • Don’t have characters repeat dialogue noises when dialogue isn’t continuing.

Final Analysis

The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a game that does one element absolutely brilliantly, and drops the ball on almost every other aspect. The presentation of this game is perfect, with an extraordinary world in it, but the gameplay, plot, and sound lack any imagination. This would be worth picking up in a 66% sale, if only for the art design, but this is not the platformer we were all hoping for.

Technical Competency: 4/10
Graphic Quality: 9/10
Sound Quality: 3/10
Network Stability: N/A

Overall: 6/10