Tin Hearts takes me back to my Dreamcast days with a loving, easy-going puzzler

The Dreamcast is often remembered for classics like Shenmue, Crazy Taxi, and Sonic Adventure.

But there was another launch gem on there. One that often flies under the radar despite its unique aesthetic and creative sandbox approach – Toy Commander.

And I’m reminded of it having just come out of another session of Tin Hearts for this overview. Not because the games are particularly similar. Toy Commander was all about warfare where you could fly planes, drive tanks, and even raid castles. Tin Hearts has none of those things.

But the aesthetic gave me this massive pang of nostalgia for a game I’d not thought about for a long time and it helped really set the scene for an experience that is all about harkening back to forgotten memories.

See, Tin Hearts is more like Lemmings where you have to guide little tin soldiers to relative safety once opening the matchbook containing them. You’ll position guiders to adjust their pathways and direct them into cannons or onto drums so they can bounce onto other platforms.

But while this centers the game and is where you play and make progress, much of the heart can be found all around in an attic, around the house and in the memories of the toymaker, Albert Butterworth and his family.

Fragments of memories appear as you play, interactions between him and his daughter and his wife appear in aetherial form. Over time, you’ll get a lifetime view of their lives, what happened to them, the connections they built and where it inevitably leads them.

It is exactly what a puzzle game should do. So often, these games get so bogged down in mechanics that they lose the anchor point or story to really sell the experience, making it impactful and engaging. But Tin Hearts has this heartwarming, yet relaxing and easy-going nature to it that you just want to progress to the next scene and want to see the other mechanics the game has to offer.

It’s just nicely paced and the entire environment – which you’ll eventually get to explore in full – is absolutely laden with subtle clues, hints at a past life and characterization some games wish they could offer. I love the whole idea you can get more of the story just by being a little bit more thorough.

Puzzles are relatively light throughout, especially since you’ll eventually be able to pause and rewind to avoid certain death for your soldiers and mechanics are gradually implemented to ensure the player doesn’t feel overwhelmed.

Most of the time, the tricky part is in finding the parts needed to get your soldiers to safety as blocks are often hidden away in crates or on top shelves. Which makes that discovery all part of the experience itself.

Once you do find blocks, you’ll be able to twist them horizontally or vertically, adjusting their position so the path line avoids any potential hazards or pitfalls.

Eventually you’ll be able to move trains so you can create pathways out of seemingly nowhere, use picture frames to push your little soldiers the right way, and even control individual soldiers to help out the rest of the group.

Tin Hearts is loaded with charm. It’s a game that wants you to uncover its mysteries, to learn more about its characters and spend time exploring and it shows.

My main issue is that it becomes pretty clear early on this was designed as a VR first game, so playing in flat, limitations and clunkiness in interactions do inevitably prevail. Walking is irritatingly slow, there’s a graininess to the graphics, plus grabbing blocks, twisting them around and positioning them requires more effort than it should because you don’t have free-hand.

In the early stages, there’s also near-sightedness of interacting with things at distance which was clearly designed for a player to ‘lean into’ the environment. As such, the use of camera is a bit jarring.

The game still works perfectly well in flat and is an enjoyable experience with personality ebbing throughout, particularly with the game’s ever-present music which just transported me to another time in my life. The puzzles may be a bit on the easy side for some but it’s the overall experience that sells the game in its finest form and makes it memorable, particularly if you have VR.


Tin Hearts is a joyful puzzler with heart and style. It creates a soothing, engaging atmosphere with charming music and encouraged discovery of your surroundings and mechanics are gradually, smartly implemented and introduced. As a VR first title, playing in flat can be a bit jarring with controls and interactivity feeling a bit on the clunky side, but regardless of how or where you play, this is an adventure you should experience. 


+ Well told story through environmental cues and soothing sounds
+ Mechanics and new additions smartly, gradually implemented
+ The music is beautiful


– A bit dicey and clunky when playing in flat as mechanics designed for VR 

Tin Hearts is now available on PC, PlayStation, PlayStation VR Xbox and Switch

Code Kindly Provided by Wired for review purposes

Played on PlayStation 5

About the author

Sally Willington

Sally is relatively new to gaming since a newfound addiction to Nintendo Switch. Now they just can't stop playing, anything and everything. Sally especially loves a good RPG and thinks that Yuna may just be one of her favourite characters ever.
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