Every now and then, you play a game that seeks to stand out against the dark, gritty landscape that dominates the industry at times. In a place filled with serious games for serious people, sometimes it is nice to play something that is bright, colourful, and somewhat childish. Something that provides more of an artistic statement than a gaming challenge. Something that will delight the senses.
The Last Tinker: City of Colours is an action platformer by the German games studio Mimimi Productions. If you are looking for a simple game with a beautiful art style, then you could do far worse than to give this title a shot.
Right off the bat, it is easy to see why this game has drawn comparisons with the Jak and Daxter series. The character and world designs would be perfectly at home within our televisions on a Saturday morning as we eat cereal that has too much sugar and watch cartoons where half the jokes sail right over our heads. The Last Tinker follows a young boy named Koru (who looks inexplicably like a monkey despite no one else in the game looking anything like one), who has a very special destiny according to the sagely voiceover during the opening sequence. Within the first few minutes of the game, you are introduced to the very-unsubtly-presented themes of racism that will permeate throughout the game as you are dropped into a world where different coloured people are kept in different coloured parts of town because they hate each other. The Reds are angry. The Blues are sad. The Greens are scared. And they all have to work together to overcome the impending doom hanging over the city. Its all very heavy-handed, but you also have the chance to explore the beautiful setting, which is a real treat to look at even as it whizzes past during the obligatory rail-grinding sections of the game.
There are moments of true brilliance in this game. Besides the stunning visuals, there is some excellent sound and music. While the art pulls you in, the sound does its best to keep you immersed in this world where colour itself has real power. Even without voice acting, there is enough emotion in the grunts and gestures of the characters to keep you invested in what they have to say. The writing is at its best when it stops taking itself so seriously, such as your very brief encounter with a man in a very unconvincing wizard costume shouting “You shall not pass!” before happily allowing you on your way. There is a level of silliness that compliments the cartoonish style in a very good way.
Oddly, it is in the gameplay where The Last Tinker falls short. Combat can be accomplished by simply bashing the attack button. Jumping is handled automatically by holding the run button and heading toward the cliff. Boss fights can be easily completed on the first go. When you do fail, checkpoints are frequent enough that you hardly notice. You won’t find any great, overwhelming challenges in this game, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a poor investment of your time. Just don’t expect it to be a lengthy experience.
Throughout my playthrough, there was a sense of nostalgia to the game. This is something that would have been at home among titles like Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, and Jak and Daxter. In many ways, this is a very good thing. If, like me, you grew up playing these titles, this will feel like a breath of fresh air, something to remind you of a simpler time in gaming history. However, the very things that will make you reminisce will also be what makes The Last Tinker feel dated. It isn’t going to give you very many surprises if you are familiar with these kinds of games. Though the writing has moments of being genuinely clever, you’ll never be taken out of the genre’s comfort zone. While playing, I was hoping desperately that there would be a twist thrown in to mature the game slightly, but that isn’t what this game is.
In all, The Last Tinker is a solid game that, though it isn’t the most challenging experience, will get its share of laughs from you as you jump, punch, and colour your way through the impressively stylised world. You’ll have to wade through the fairly dated and simple plot, but the reward is a chance to run wild in one of the most stylish and beautiful games of recent times. It might not change the face of gaming, but if you’ve ever wanted to have a romp through a Saturday morning cartoon, this is your chance.
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An American trying to infiltrate and understand English society, Trent is a writer of novels and player of games. He has a serious addiction to JRPGs, the weirder the better, and anything that keeps him distracted from work.