The Last Tinker: City of Colors

The Last Tinker: City of Colors

Written by Jeff Kintner on 4/3/2014 for PC  
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In a world made entirely of paper, paint, and glue, anything is possible as long as the idea behind it is strong enough. You live in the City of Colors, the primary source of primary colors in a world that's as vibrant and fantastic as a child's Crayola magnum opus. As whimsical as this sounds, not all is well in the City. The three primary districts have grown distant. Each borough of color believes that it's better than the other two, and wants nothing to do with them. Fortunately, you live in the outer district, where everything is still mixed up and groovy. But deep down, everyone knows it won't last for long.

You are Koru, a paint-covered monkey-boy, who also happens to be a Tinker. Not much is said of the Tinkers in the preview, but I'm willing to bet they're handy with a paintbrush. And, presumably, Koru is the last of them. Along with your little piñata pal Tap, you'll embark on an adventure where you'll help citizens by fighting off bullies, solving puzzles, and probably slinging a few paintbrushes.

Aesthetically, The Last Tinker: City of Colors feels like a mash up of Spyro the Dragon and Psychonauts. It's got all the trappings of a kid-friendly cartoon world: a smiling sun, a sleeping moon wearing a nightcap, cute animal characters covered in garish colors, and a soothing acoustic soundtrack. Actually, the music is my favorite part—when I had to step away from my computer, I didn't pause the game. I just let it run so the dreamy guitar riffs would follow me into throughout my apartment.

The subject matter and gameplay of The Last Tinker is definitely geared towards kids. The themes are a little too on-the-nose to keep adult audiences interested for long (like people discriminating against each other based on color). Likewise, the gameplay is a little oversimplified. The description for The Last Tinker boasts parkour elements, but there's no challenge to it. When I was presented with an obstacle course of tiny rocks jutting out of the water I was excited to do some platforming. But all I had to do to clear it was hold the dash button and watch Koru nimbly hop from one stone to the next. You can control which direction Koru is hopping, so you still have agency over your platforming, but it isn't as versatile as it should be. There's also some cargo rail sections that are similar to rail grinding in inFAMOUS. These sections aren't any more difficult but there are some obstacles you have to jump over; I can see the cargo rail sections becoming very interesting if you ever get a ranged attack.

Since it's a kid's game, I can forgive the story and platforming being simple. But the auto-targeting in combat is so simplified that it gets in the way. The closest target to you is automatically highlighted in yellow, so all your attacks will be directed at them. The good part is that all of your attacks go to that enemy, so none of your punches are going to go wide left. The problem is that your targeting is also based on which direction you're facing—while you're ducking and weaving between attacks, it's difficult to keep a bead on one enemy. So you have to stay aware of where the yellow outline is, because it might not be highlighting the enemy you want. The combat would really benefit from a manual targeting system, maybe something like the Zelda games started using when they made the jump to 3D.

As an adult that's played a lot of parkour and puzzle games, The Last Tinker: City of Colors doesn't have a lot that I haven't seen before. But I can see the building blocks for something special for kids here. I was eight years old when Spyro the Dragon came out, and I was obsessed with it. I replayed it and the sequels more times than I care to count. And if I were eight all over again, I'd probably lose myself just as easily in The Last Tinker.

The Last Tinker: City of Colors The Last Tinker: City of Colors The Last Tinker: City of Colors The Last Tinker: City of Colors

About Author

I've spent an embarrassing percentage of my life planted in front of a screen. I'm pretty sure I know the layout of Planet Zebes better than my own home town, and most of my social life in high school revolved around Halo 2 and Super Smash Brothers. When I wasn't on a console I was playing every ROM I could get my mitts on.

These days I spend most of my time with games made by small studios, because they tend to make what I'm interested in playing. I love developers that experiment with new mechanics, write challenging and immersive narratives, and realize that a game's aesthetics are more than it's graphics. So long story short-you'll see a lot of posts from me about Kickstarter campaigns and Early Access debuts.
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