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The Last Tinker: City of Colors

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By Fr33Lanc3r.00703-06-2014
StuntmanLT (editor)
Bobfish (editor)
The Last Tinker: City of Colors

The Defence

Developer:
Mimimi Productions
Publisher:
Unity Games
Genre:
Action, Adventure, Indie, Platformer
Release Date:
12-05-2014

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Quad 2.2 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 280
AMD Radeon HD 4830
RAM:
4 GB
HDD:
2 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

Long before I was introduced to the RTS and adopted the PC as my platform of choice, I played a lot of the Banjo-Kazooie games on the N64, and it’s always saddened me to see a lack of similar games on our platform. Enter The Last Tinker: City of Colors, a joyful homage to the vibrantly colourful and wonderfully inventive Action-Adventure games of old. But can a game like this survive in this landscape of drab, linear, ‘modern’ shooters?

The Trial

The Last Tinker tells a relatively simple story. In a world where colors bring things to life, there has been a schism. The Tinkers, beings with the power to utilise the full power of the colours and keep the peace, have all but disappeared from the world. The three colour spirits, Blue, Red and Green, have given in to the worst aspects of their personalities. In the city of Colortown, the followers of each colour have divided into districts, and distrust reigns supreme. To make the situation worse, a powerful force called ‘The Bleakness’ has invaded and seems set to drain the colour from the world entirely.

Coming into this situation, you take on the role of Koru, an inhabitant of the city’s outskirts, a vibrant slum that doesn’t overly concern itself with any one color. Directly, if unknowingly, responsible for The Bleakness’ invasion due to his Tinker heritage, Koru is now the only person who can stop The Bleakness from draining the colour and life from everything in the city.

Look at that colour...

Look at that colour...

In terms of gameplay The Last Tinker does a serviceable job. Movement feels fluid with both the keyboard and controller. Most of the jumping puzzles use a parkour system similar to Assassins Creed, with the player holding down the sprint button to automatically jump and swing past obstacles. This does lack the freedom of the games The Last Tinker seeks to emulate, but to be honest, the more constrained system works well. In place of puzzles surrounding how to get to a particular location, many of the movement puzzles are focused around timing, with platforms that disappear and reappear, moving obstacles, etc. blocking your path from A to B. It’s both fun and challenging, and there is a strong sense of achievement gained from successfully getting across a particularly difficult bit. Less fun are the sections where Koru needs to travel along cargo rails (elevated rails that you grind along while dodging obstacles). These sections often have obstacles just out of the camera’s view, and by about the fourth instance, you’re required to jump quickly between rails to avoid a ‘do it again stupid’ reload. Eventually, you’ll probably only get through them because you’ve done it enough times to remember all the obstacle locations.

Combat is where the gameplay falls a little flat. Mimimi obviously chose to abandon the variety and inventiveness of attacks shown by its predecessors in favour of a looser variant of the Arkham brawling system. There are three basic combat moves, each given by the three colours. Red damages enemies and allows you to perform a variety of punches in sequence, Green sends enemies fleeing for a short period of time (or to their doom), and Blue stuns enemies for a time. The enemies themselves are interestingly varied in their own way, and manage to throw a few curveballs when working out how to defeat them.

Your various combat abilities also come into play when problem solving. Scattered around the areas you travel to are members of a species of mushroom people. These species can morph into two distinctly different forms, and both of these forms react in different ways to your three basic combat moves. In order to get through many of the obstacles in your way, you’ll need to use a combination of your parkour moves, and the unique abilities of at least one of the mushroom men’s forms to progress.

I hated this, and you will too.

I hated this, and you will too.

Where The Last Tinker really shines is in its aesthetic. The outer city is a vibrant area where many different colours meet in wonderful harmony. Even the three main districts (Red, Green, and Blue) manage to show off an impressive array of shades that make the world come alive. Disappointingly, much of the game will be spent fighting the Bleakness, an entity that drains the colour out of the world, so there will be some large sections that are devoid of the colour that makes the game unique. Despite that, The Last Tinker’s use of colour puts the generic ‘modern’ game to shame, and I’d personally love to see more games making use of more than just brown and grey.

The musical score is great. It’s tense where it needs to be, and generally joyful as you run around a world that feels alive. The characters all do that Banjo-Kazooie thing where they all ‘speak’ with a unique gibberish sound that at once gives each character a unique voice, yet still allows for dialogue to be sped up without cutting off the voice acting.

The Verdict

All things considered, The Last Tinker is a solid game that will provide a good deal of entertainment. There are some keyboard abusingly difficult sections, but you can see the sheer joy of the developers behind all of that. Topping it off is a colourful, vibrant aesthetic that should have other developers weeping for the crime of overusing brown and grey. Well worth the price of admission.

Case Review

  • Colour: Even the areas dedicated to just one color manage to look amazingly vibrant.
  • Music: Well written, and wonderfully used.
  • Story: It’s a bit thin at times, and seems to be a bit too reliant on its layers of plot doors.
  • Platforming: A good parkour system, but lacks the freedom of other games in the genre.
  • Combat: Serviceable, but lacks the variety that normally features in these games.
  • Cargo Rails: These sections are riddled with insanely difficult obstacles that are more frustrating than challenging.
4
Score: 4/5
The Last Tinker is a solid game. Well worth the price of admission.

Appeal

There’s no mistaking that The Last Tinker is a ‘kids’ game and it is a kids’ game with bright colours and very thinly veiled metaphors. However, that’s no reason for you to discount it immediately. Overall the game is a lot of fun, with elements of collect-a-thons, brawlers and adventure games. It’s also relatively short and does a good job of holding your attention for its 5-6 hour duration. Yes, there are many features that mean the game lends itself particularly well to a younger audience, such as the checkpoint system. Checkpoints are many and strategically placed for minimum frustration during especially tricky sections. However death lacks consequence and there’s no real penalty for failing a particular section too many times.

Additionally, the game’s controls are very easy to pick up though having the main interact button as ‘Y’ on the gamepad threw me at first. Furthermore, combat is quite basic with a few unique, themed twists thrown in. That said, fights are few and far between and new moves are introduced gradually over the course of the game, so it rarely gets the chance to feel samey. Overall, mechanically, the game is very sound though I did have to wrestle with the unwieldy camera on more than one occasion (especially whilst sprinting during chase and race sequences). The game looks great though doesn’t run quite as smoothly on an older hardware. Visually the game is very rich, looking colourful and joyful throughout, though the music and voice acting leaves something to be desired. The direction for this game’s voice acting is Okami-esque and non-traditional but, whereas it works in Okami, here it just sounds amateurish. Much of the score is repetitive and forgettable.

There’s no denying that The Last Tinker’s core story is a thinly veiled racism and prejudice metaphor. It’s admirable the game is attempting to address these complex issues and is doing so for a young audience. The game’s core themes of unity and diversity are commendable though the implied solution of violence and vandalism is hardly the one you’d expect.

3
Score: 3/5

Appeal

By Zathalee

Despite The Last Tinker: City of Colors' heavy-handed message and far too easy platforming, the game still exudes a reasonable amount of charm, and the combat remains interesting enough throughout the game. With a bright color palette and a rather excellently designed city structure, accented by the reasonable character developments as the game progresses, it’s an enjoyable experience throughout the adventure.

With the title channeling classic PS2 platformers such as Jak & Daxter, and Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, The Last Tinker does try its best to keep the action and platforming interesting. Without a true jump button, the player is relegated to an all-purpose “advance” key and timed jumps to keep players awake. If anything, with the game’s difficulty set to hard, the combat is the most engaging thing about the game, providing most of the puzzles and challenge along the way. With fights smacking of the flow of Arkham Asylum games, and with various abilities and upgrades acquired as you progress along the storyline, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how combat played out.

Personally, I experienced no bugs during my time spent playing the game, and, though this might have been due to the simplistic level design, it felt as though there was always a way to progress, and that you never really get stuck in one place for too long. There’s a slightly wry sense of humor pervading the environment and the game, and while your major puzzle-solving compatriots (Briggs and Bomber) prove to be more annoying with their “speech” patterns, the exuberance of the game and the charm that comes with it makes it fun, above all else.

3.5
Score: 3.5/5
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