The Last Tinker: City of Colors
The Last Tinker feels like a game from a bygone era in the best possible ways. Now, we’ve got an industry full of sameness in both genre and color schemes. We tend to get a lot brown and grey worlds, and very few games relative to the amount released actually try and inject some color into their worlds. The Last Tinker is a throwback to both the N64 Rare era of 3D platformers, but bears more of a resemblance to the original Jak and Daxter.
You’ve got a character and a sidekick (well, sorta here) that are almost blank slates – they’re very kind and milktoast and not particularly compelling, but amusing. They’re expressive less through words and more through body language. Koru and his little friend Tap have fantastic chemistry, and more than the story, it drives you to want to complete the game. They inhabit the world of Colortown, which has been divided with color-centric segregation and hatred. That may seem extreme for a kid-centric platformer, but that’s clearly the underlying motif here, along with the belief that everyone can get along.
Your journey to unite the land takes you across platforms, into races, battles with gangs, stealthy encounters where you need to get from point A to B, and even grind-railing sections. These portions evoke not only Ratchet and Clank since they’re both 3D paltformers, but the heavy color-saturation brings back wonderful memories of the Jet Set Radio series as well. Platforming is handled more like the 3D Legend of Zelda games and less like a traditional platformer. R2 enables an auto-jump of sorts for things like rock-skipping, and it will propel you forward on a jump from a high surface to a lower one, but you’ll still need to aim properly and more than likely need to use an R1 roll to succeed as well.
Grinding is automatic, while the combat is manually-controlled and uses a basic attack and evade setup very well. The controls are razor-sharp, but the stealth is definitely the worst element of the gameplay. Platformers rarely get that genre down pat – Sly Cooper came the closest, but The Last Tinker’s version reminded me of Ocarina of Time’s in that it’s technically functional, it’s just not very fun. Fortunately, platforming, combat, and sweet rail-grinding dominate the action and control marvelously. This is a very fun game to just sit back and play, and if you’re looking for a PS4 game for a younger player, you can’t go wrong with this. There isn’t a whole lot of depth on display, but there’s enough variety to prevent things from getting stagnant for older players, who may just wind up watching their kids go through it.
The puzzle sections are something that kids will go ape over as you get to directly control Koru and his button commands to control either Bomber or Biggs – with one being a pint-sized and more energetic version of the giant Biggs, who is a bit slow-witted at times, but has a heart of gold. He’ll help you clear a path when needed, and is the key to solving some of the simpler puzzles, while Bomber tackles tougher challenges. Controlling them is a bit tricky since you need to be really close by to direct them, but it’s something you learn to work around fairly quickly – if you’re playing this with a young child, you might want to take over for them here though to prevent frustration.
Visually, this is a stunning game. Seeing it in still form is impressive enough. You can clearly see that the extreme color saturation is eye-catching, and as it should be, Colorworld’s environments are bathed in color and the grandeur you can see in screenshots pops even more in motion. The animation is smooth for pretty much everything you do. Dodging attacks and then hopping into a punch looks smooth, while the auto-jumping animation is quick and snappy like it should be. The manual R2 jumps can look a bit iffy, with some awkward transitions at times. Still, the overall look of the game is remarkable and one that will impress anyone young or old. The paper mache dialogue boxes are also notable because of how crisp they are, and much like a Nintendo-crafted Wii U game, the overall image clarity here is top-notch.
The Last Tinker’s sound design is full of whimsy. The soundtrack has that same happy-go-lucky feel you’d get in Rareware classics, but isn’t quite as catchy. Still, if you have a kid who hasn’t experienced those games, they’ll enjoy this game’s soundtrack just fine. The Animal Crossing-esque gibberish spoken by the characters may disappoint those looking for English-only dialogue, but you still see everything in very clear dialogue boxes, and I love that they’re built into the world, so your perspective on them will shift as you walk around. It’s a nice little touch that sticks out, and it’s never bad to have a game with small touches that remain memorable. The cartoonish sound effects fit the light-hearted look very well, but you do occasionally have some heavier stuff that still manages to make you care – like Koru’s little whimper when Tap suffers a short-term injury.
The Last Tinker has some rough edges to it. The jumping controls can be a bit tricky when you’re not auto-jumping, which is probably why they are largely automated. There are also issues getting AI partners to do exactly what you want, when you want them to do it. However, the game as a whole is so fun and charming that it’s easy to look past these flaws and recommend the game despite them. It’s perfect for a parent looking for a PS4 game to please a young child, as those are in fairly short supply on the console. In that sense, it came out at the absolutely perfect time because there’s nothing else like this on the platform, and at $20, this a must-own if you’re a PS4 owner with a child or if you’ve got fond memories of the N64-era 3D platformers that Rare put out many years ago.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: LOOT Entertainment
This review is based on a digital copy of The Last Tinker: City of Colors for the PC provided by LOOT Entertainment.