The Last Tinker: City of Colors PC Review
There is no doubt that the first thing everyone will notice when turning on the appropriately named The Last Tinker: City of Colors is the facial blast of colour that emits from the screen. I can imagine this is like someone’s mad high trip after crushing a bunch of Skittles and smoking them. (I don’t endorse the idea of crushing skittles and smoking them – eating them is good, though). It’s a gorgeous style that reminds me of the days of old, where platformers were dashed with sunny bright colours and delightful blue skies. You don’t get them as often any more, which is why The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a burner on the eyes, like you have just come out of a dark tunnel into the sunny daylight of a summer’s afternoon.
Everything in The Last Tinker: City of Colors is simple to grasp. This goes for the story as well, which along with the rest of the game is clearly aimed at a younger generation that isn’t quite old enough for all that shooty-shooty-bang-bang that comes with playing more “mature” titles that adore the darker colour pallets. The game is set in a place called Colortown, a kid’s dream fantasy setting inhabited by uniquely designed beings, each one representing a distinct colour. A humanoid monkey named Koru is who the player controls, along with his flying green and yellow buddy – I don’t even know how to describe it without saying it looks like it belongs in Viva Piñata or in someone’s bedside teddy collection.
All is not well with the people of Colortown, as each creature, based around the colour green, red or blue, have isolated themselves from each other, living in their own coloured neighbourhood and refusing to get on with the other beings. There’s a message of prejudice here, but done through a tone that’s great for kids to learn about getting on with people no matter how they look. Things get worse when the bleakness, an evil force of white, begins to erase the colour from Colortown and turn it into his own pale landscape. As the last tinker, Koru must find the spirits of each colour and use their power to put a stop to the bleakness’ disastrous infection and at the same time unite all the coloured factions.
The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a 3d platformer, but even though on the Steam store for the game it states that this is “a joyous platformer lovingly crafted in the image of all time classics such as Zelda, Jak and Daxter and Banjo Kazooie.” That last bit is more in relation to the colour pallet, as it’s actually less like the early 3D collect-a-thon platformers of old and more in line with modern games that streamline many of their mechanics. This is an incredibly basic beat-em-up crossed with extremely simplistic platforming, again, something that distinguishes it as a game for the young ones. It’s lacking any sort of real challenge for anyone who has played a platformer or two before.
Even though The Last Tinker: City of Colors looks like a platform game, there is actually no dedicated jump button. It’s rather bizarre and something that takes a few minutes to grasp. Instead, the developers have gone for an Assassin’s Creed mechanic, where holding down RT (using an Xbox 360 pad is recommended, as it feels natural and works better than the keyboard controls) will let Koru fall off edges, climb up platforms, auto jump across platforms, such as small rocks when traversing over a lake, and interact with grind rails, which is something that totally screams Sonic Adventure 2, except Koru doesn’t have the speed to match the blue hedgehog.
While the game’s mechanics work fine to get around, even if the auto jumping can get itself muddled sometimes, causing for some cheap deaths, it takes away some of the control that the player has when participating in platforming, and it’s something I missed having. It’s totally understandable to do this when the developers are clearly aiming for a younger audience, but if you’re looking to play The Last Tinker: City of Colors without any interactions from your young ones, then you might find the controls restricting. This is the main reason why I didn’t always find the game a bundle of fun.
Combat suffers from the same problem – it’s limited to mashing one button on the controller. This performs a basic combination of hits that is only slightly modified by upgrades from the vending machines in the town hub with coin found in the world. You can do a dodge roll, which can be followed up with a lunge, but apart from that you’re repeating the same tiny move set time and time again. Even when you get the new powers, such as the red spirit that gives Koru the power of red paint balls to throw at enemies, it doesn’t do enough to the core combat to make it engaging.
To expand the gameplay, there are small puzzle segments fitted in, such as sneaking past guards to get to a room or using one of the weird yellow mushroom people to solve a puzzle. The bigger mushroom is used to activate panels by leading him towards them with the whistle command. In the case of the smaller mushroom, Bomber (his name gives it away), you detonate him with the red paint balls to blow away boulders. These mushrooms modify their abilities when you use them with the various spirit colours. A green one will let Koru ride the bigger mushroom causing him to run around in fear, smacking any bad guys that get in his way. While this is a nice distraction from the combat and exploration, it still remains easy to solve, and the game reuses a lot of the tricks that you might get fed up with them.
The Last Tinker: City of Colors certainly has charm and a wonderful colour pallet that smothers the player in a warm and loving world. The issue is that many people won’t be engaged by the stripped down controls and limiting gameplay. If you can overlook this issue, then the The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a delightful and heart-warming family adventure, especially if you’re playing it with a young one. I just wish that the game was more complex, so I did not feel like I was back in in primary school learning the colours of the rainbow, or in this case, learning how to play platform games.