As far as enjoyment in gaming goes, one of my absolute favorite things has remained constant. Drop me in a large, nonlinear environment where I collect things and explore while jumping around and using unique abilities. I’ll be enraptured. This is the kind of game where simply looking at a few screenshots would keep it in the back of my mind for months. Tinykin is quite short, sure, but the level of quality in this adorable 3D platformer is through the roof. Exploring its handful of detailed sandboxes while slowly expanding my capabilities via collecting little critters all builds into exactly what I’m looking for in a platformer.
Tinykin tells the story of a tiny human named Milodane. He sets out on an adventure before finding himself stuck in a house on Earth. And when I say he’s tiny, I mean it. Milodane is the size of an insect. There don’t appear to be any humans left that are our size. He meets up with the local inhabitants and finds himself on a typical 3D platformer quest: he needs to gather items from around the house to build a machine that will let him get back home.
There’s plenty of dialogue from the various insects in the house’s rooms. While the world itself is fully 3D, all of the characters within it are 2D. The character artwork is lush and gorgeously animated, although they’re only drawn from the front. This is really only awkward in Milodane’s case, as he’s always facing the camera. There isn’t any art depicting him from behind, which looks more than a little odd. Regardless, the presentation here is wonderful. And although the plot is far from complicated, the insects have a lot of humorous, colorful dialogue when you decide to speak with them. There are also gorgeous, fully animated cutscenes that are really quite phenomenal.
Collect ’em all
Milodane can’t do much on his own. He can jump, use his suit to cover himself with a bubble that lets him glide, and ride on a bar of soap that functions as if it were a skateboard. The controls are extremely responsive and the movement feels great, which makes moving around the sandboxes feel fantastic. I never had any issues with the controls and everything always feels perfectly precise. On the rare occasion that I screwed up and fell while platforming, it was always my fault.
Tinykin can be best described as a 3D collectathon by way of Pikmin. You come across Tinykin eggs of various colors while exploring the levels. Each egg type has a different kind of Tinykin in it — you’ll want to find as many as you can. Their uses are various and often cleverly designed. The first type you come across are pink Tinykins, which are used to carry objects or manipulate things in the environment. Certain objects, such as letters, require a single critter to carry them. Larger ones can’t be lifted until you find the specified amount, at which point the items will usually be carried to their destinations automatically.
You also make use of plenty of other types in Tinykin. Red critters are thrown at specific items and explode on contact. Green ones are stackable, allowing you to use them as a sort of makeshift ladder. Another lets you guide electricity from an outlet to a power cable, while the last lets you build bridges so that blue Tinykin can carry items to difficult-to-reach places. Tracking down all of a level’s eggs is a big part of the fun, and I had a great time seeking them out.
A whole new world
Speaking of the levels, they’re expertly designed, even if they can feel sort of samey. Although that comes down to the fact that each area is a different room in the house, so you’ll be running around rooms as an insect-sized character. Regardless, exploring them is almost meditative as you learn the layouts bit by bit and grab all the Tinykins. Levels also have a lot of golden pollen to collect. Find enough and you’ll add another bubble to your glide meter.
For the most part, your goal in each level is akin to an adventure game. You need to accomplish various tasks before the citizens of each town (that’s right, each room is a sort of kingdom for different insects) will give you what you need to move forward. Some of these are quite multi-faceted and clever. The first level requires you to move a CD to a boombox to play it. Only, the boombox is missing buttons and the power cable is damaged. You have to fully explore each area until all the moving parts are put into place and everything comes together. It almost feels like completing a jigsaw puzzle.
Since each level is set in a different room, you explore a bathroom, a kitchen, and other places. On top of your main objective, there are usually two or three sidequests to do wherever you are, and these reward you with pollen or artifacts for a museum. I didn’t 100% Tinykin, but I got pretty close, only leaving three or four sidequests undone.
The game took me about six hours, but it can be completed in considerably less time if you don’t care about being thorough. Despite this, I don’t feel like the game is too short, as the level of quality is consistent for the entire duration.
If you like exploring spaces in 3D platformers, Tinykin has some of the most satisfying examples of that we’ve seen in ages. The visuals, controls, and level design are all of the highest quality, so this is a must-play for genre fans. On the flip side, the game is quite short and there’s not much in the way of challenge (and no combat), which can lead to a bit of monotony. But those are a small price to pay for what is easily one of the best 3D platformers released in recent years.