Shrink yourself down and join Any Button Gaming with our Tinykin PC Review. Tinykin is the second game from studio Splashteam (and publisher tinyBuild), after the team’s first release, Splasher. The dev team comprises ex-Ubisoft devs with previous experience with Rayman and Rabbids. That goes some way to explain the main draw of Tinykin.
How one derives fun from a product tends to be highly subjective. Therefore ALL forms of review are opinionated and should be taken with a grain of salt (this included). So let’s analyze Tinykin through the lens of more objective metrics such as; graphical fidelity, characters/story, content/length, controls & gameplay, and then finally, sound design & cinematics. This product was played on both the Steam Deck and a Gaming PC (RTX 2060, 16GB Ram, with an AMD Ryzen 7 3800). For full transparency: this content was reviewed using a copy provided by the publisher but all opinions remain our own.
Characters and Story
Tinykin is an adorable-looking 3D platformer with light puzzle elements and the story complements the genre. You play as Milo, a future human who has found a way to travel back to Earth. The only issue is that when he does, he is tiny, stuck in a house trapped in the 1990s and making fast friends with an odd race called the Tinykins. These egg-hatched creatures follow Milo around and have different abilities. Some can form a tower to climb, others a bridge, work together to move things or, er, explode. Not sure about the evolutionary soundness of that last subspecies.
The house Milo finds themselves in is not empty. Instead, it is full of different insect species that have created a peaceful but diverse society. You get asked to help build a special device which means collecting things from different rooms, each with its own theme. There is a central mystery to be solved, though the plot is never really the main focus of the game. Instead, it sets the stage for the gameplay and we found this made complete sense. The insects themselves are full of personality and you get fascinating excerpts in the text of their conversations and interactions as you proceed through the game.
Controls and Gameplay
The closest we can describe Tinykin is a 3D platformer with Pikimin-like elements. That said, we never really felt like this was a Pikmin clone or was trying to be. There is zero combat and the Tinykin are really just simple puzzle-solving tools (albeit, REALLY cute ones). Instead, the gameplay focuses on a house room with lots of different obstacles, heights and areas for you to navigate.
Milo’s moveset is limited. The main character can jump but not all that high. He can surf some soap to go faster and go down zip wires. He can also float using bubbles when jumping but not for long. There is no other interaction.
To explore or do anything, you’ll need the Tinykins. When you enter a room, you need to explore where you can reach to find some. This will lead you to more Tinykins, which in turn will mean you can solve more environmental puzzles. and so on. As well to the main quests for each room, there are typically two-three side quests per room that grant collectables, as well as a currency of ‘pollen’ which is collected and can be traded for bubbles. The more bubbles, the longer you can float and the more you can explore.
Perfectly formed puzzles
One puzzle example could be that you need a set of Tinykin to carry something for you. You, therefore, need an amount of Tinykin to do this. You then need to clear a path for them to get it where it needs to be. This may need different types of Tinykin in various numbers to build a bridge or push an obstacle out of the way. It won’t tax your brain too much because the answer to every puzzle is normally to explore more.
The controls are basic but incredibly responsive and there is nice feedback when using the Tinykin for any task. Navigating the room was, honestly, a joy. You can’t really die as such. Falling from a great height will return you to where you fell, and that’s it. The Tinykin follow you around perfectly and will instantly snap to any task. They become a complete extension of the player and mean there is no waiting or distractions. You can aim the Tinykin by using triggers and the aiming is buttery smooth.
Content & Length
As stated, the content is largely repetitious. Each room may give you a new type of Tinykin to use but there is not too much variety. This never seems an issue because the game knows exactly when to leave it. If you wanted, you could probably solve the main story puzzles in about four hours. We didn’t though – we spent over eight hours with the game because we WANTED to explore everywhere.
Through clever level design, there is not a clear path to what steps you need to do to progress the story so you will no doubt trip over side quests. The game doesn’t tell you where to go or what to do too heavily. At the same time, you’ll never get lost or become frustrated. Unsure of where to go? Then check out that area over there. While exploring that, you’ll see an NPC that gives you a side quest which means you’ll need to explore another area that may give you a hint on where to go for the story.
The natural flow means you’ll always find something to do and never feel lost or clueless without feeling led at any stage. The solution to all problems is to explore more. Each area is also generous in giving you shortcuts back. If you spend time platforming upwards, at the end you’ll unlock a shortcut that means you can easily return. Revisiting an area, which you’ll sometimes need to do as you find more Tinykin, doesn’t feel like a chore.
It makes for a perfectly sized game. If you are a real collectable nut, there are achievements for collecting 100% of pollen or items if you want to extend your playtime but we found doing all primary side objectives enough. It’s up to the player.
The game isn’t too demanding technically, being bright and pastel-coloured. The characters are, interestingly, 2D but in a 3D world. Think Paper Mario. It gives the models a lot of character but does lead to probably our only real complaint. Since they are 2D, platforming can be more challenging than it ought to be if you need to be exact. There is a problem with depth perception. It is never glaring enough to be a serious frustration (the platforming is not Celeste level or anything). Still, it takes some getting used to.
We played this on PC but also spent a lot of time on the Steam Deck. On both platforms, we could happily play at 60FPS with top resolution settings and suffered no graphical issues at all. From what we have read, some Day One players experienced issues on the Deck and PC, particularly with carpet textures. However, it appears that a patch a few days in has solved this and the game played bug-free for us.
It should be noted that it also copes well with having close to a hundred Tinykin following you around at any one time. Overall it has a nice and distinct style, performs well and gets the job done.
Sound Design & Cinematics
The cinematics are actually all 2D art styles but only occur a few times in the story. Most of the plot is delivered via text dialogue with your 2D models in the game. The text is never onerous or too long so we never really missed cinematics. The music itself is cute and does a good job of suiting the room without grating. It isn’t too memorable but for a game where you’ll spend a lot of time listening to the same track, it never goes too long.
The sound effects though are pretty awesome. The Tinykin make appropriately adorable sounds, especially when lifting and the made-up language of the bugs is well presented. It conveys a lot of meaning through limited time and exposure.
Tinkykin – PC Review Conclusion
Sometimes, as a reviewer, a code gets given to you and you have little idea going in of what to expect. Tinykin was one such game that has turned out to be one of our favourite playing experiences of the last year. Relaxing but never boring, cute but never too twee. It sets out its objectives and carries them out admirably.
The controls are right, the environment and level design are close to perfect and the package smooth and engaging. If you want to spend a few hours in a delightful world with a well-built game, Tinykin might just be one of the best surprises of 2022.
Note – Tinykin is available on PC, PS4, PS4, Xbone One, Series S&X (also on Gamepass) and Nintendo Switch.
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Tinykin is small but perfectly formed
- Overall - 8.9/108.9/10
+ Great controls and core gameplay mechanic make for compelling gameplay. + Level design is first class +Relaxing and engaging – 2D art style can conflict with precise platforming
Rudy Manchego has been gaming since the days of the BBC Micro Computer and spreads himself thin with a love of retro, indie and mainstream gaming. He’s one half of the Jambags Comedy Gaming podcast and likes nothing better than kicking back with a nice pot of lapsang souchong, a good game and a background podcast on the intricacies of Spanish cheese making.