I’ve never been one for DIY. Ask my mother, or partner, or any of my ex-girlfriends. Heck, my best friend would even say I’m not even the most “manly” of men so manual labour of any kind is out of my vocabulary.
Therefore, a video game about DIY should be much the same. Basically, I would suck at it and should avoid it like the plague.
Funnily enough though, if DIY was actually like it is in Tools Up!, I might consider doing more of it.
Though, I highly doubt it.
With that in mind, let me tell you a little more about this quaint multiplayer DIY/fix-it-up arcade game, Tools Up!
Let’s Get to Work
I’ll start off with saying one thing I have quickly learned whilst playing this game: You NEED additional people playing if you want to have any hope of doing well in it. Seriously.
You can play on your own and have fun. However, if you want three stars (or even two stars!), then you must get another player round to pick up your slack.
And I’m not saying it’s because you can’t play the game solo. Far from it.
More, the tasks involved are much easier with another person helping out. Which, I suppose, is an accurate depiction of DIY really. You can renovate a flat by yourself, but you know it’ll be done a lot faster with a mate around.
Tools Up! is a quaint little multiplayer title that puts you in the role of a DIY company that goes around fixing up various flats and homes. You start off your career in a single-roomed apartment, doing the flooring or wallpapering.
Nice and easy stuff.
It then quickly throws things up a notch by giving you a really tight time limit to complete as much of the house as possible. Added to that, you’re given a blueprint to show the customer’s specifications. If you don’t follow these to the tee, you lose points.
To Me, To You
It sounds easy, and to be fair, it is. It’s a doddle.
You mix up the wallpaper paste with the click of a button (X button on Xbox One). Then, you slap it on, wall section at a time. When you run out of paste, you add more to the pot. However, the ploy is that, as you’re doing this, time is ticking away.
To complete a three-room apartment, you have five minutes. Sounds doable, you think. But you also have to throw out all the rubbish, clean up after you, get the right wallpaper (which can only sometimes be picked up by sporadically appearing NPCs outside the house), and more. So your “easy job” escalates quickly.
That’s not to say Tools Up! isn’t fun. Far from it. It’s a great way to waste an hour or two. But, it would be best with a friend.
Aesthetically, Tools Up! is a cutesy, minimalist cartoon game. Think Human Fall Flat or Overcooked, only based on DIY. The characters are adoring enough to enjoy watching them waddle.
Tools Up! is as arcadey as a game comes. Harking back to days of yore where you’d have a friend over for some Mario Party-esque escapades. In other words, a couch co-op game with no risk/reward, just enjoyable times spent with friends.
Tools Up! has a surprising difficulty spike if you’re playing solo. The first level (which acts as a tutorial) can be three-starred on the first go. However, even the second level makes you panic. Before you know it, time has run out on you before you’ve even got enough points for a two-star rating.
NB: A recent update has given players the option to play without a time limit. However, this then takes away any sense of challenge. Hence, this review focuses on the game with a time limit.
And those stars are the only way to unlock new characters/skins to play around with. The new characters don’t boast new abilities or powers or anything, just merely offer you a different palate to look at whilst you play.
A Burgeoning New-Old Genre
As you can probably tell from the description/visuals I’ve presented you with, Tools Up! is another one of those games that give players a fun way to do rather menial tasks.
The genre is popular thanks to games like Overcooked and Human Fall Flat. It’s been seen more recently with games like Moving Out, Totally Reliable Delivery Service, and, of course, Tools Up! Each of these games features stylised human characters with heightened/maladjusted physics and couch co-op gameplay opportunities.
They’re zany. They’re simple. And, in this world, they’re apparently on the rise. Heck, I just mentioned four games and I bet you’ve seen at least two of them advertised and played at least one of them.
And if that’s the case, ask yourself one simple question; did you enjoy them? If so, bravo. The developers have achieved what they set out to do. In the end, isn’t that the point of a video game? Enjoyment? I feel like I’ve done this sort of spiel in a previous review.
Anyway, what more can I say about Tools Up!? It’s, quintessentially, a fun video game that is most definitely better played with at least one other friend. You’ll find yourselves sharing tasks and glory as you renovate house after house.
I guess in a time where real-world decorators have been made redundant (probably not the best choice of words. If you are a decorator/plasterer/any labour-intensive job of that ilk, I apologise), simulating their work in slapstick and silly ways at least keeps them present in our minds even if they aren’t in our homes.
Or, if you happen to live with one of those workers, they’re both in your heart and your home. Lucky you. You get the best of both worlds. Go give them a hug for me. Or at least a decent cuppa. They’ll appreciate it, I’m sure.
Tools Up! was reviewed on the Xbox One. It’s also available on PlayStation 4, Steam, and Nintendo Switch. For more information on Tools Up!, make sure you visit their website. Alternatively, if you fancy sticking around ABG for a while longer, we’ve got plenty of other great reviews to look through. Go ahead, spoil yourself.
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Tools Up! Review
- Overall - 6/106/10
An aesthetically-pleasing little DIY-based party game, Tools Up! lets you live your craziest renovation dreams. Presuming everybody has them? However, in a marketplace that is, weirdly enough, becoming over-saturated with this fun genre in a really short space of time, Tools Up! doesn’t quite bring enough to the table to let it stand out against the likes of Overcooked or Moving Out. That’s not to say it’s a bad game, however. Merely that the competition is really high. Still, if you’re looking for a quick, fun game to play with your friends that doesn’t involve blue shells, Tools Up! should make it into your video game party nights as soon as possible.
+ Easy to grasp controls and schemes
+ Friendly approach to challenges that quickly become apparent
+ Replayability factor presuming you have enough players to get better times/score
+ A recent update means you can play without a time limit – though this does impede on any sense of ‘challenge’.
— Tight time limits mean playing solo become One-star failures.
— Feels a little like trodden ground
— Pails in comparison to others in the same genre.
ABG’s Senior Editor (News), YouTube content creator/streamer.