The City of Colours is in desperate trouble! It’s being invaded by the Bleakness, a terrible entity determined to wipe out all the city’s colour with an abominable freezing whiteness. Scoundrel! The main character, Koru, a monkey-faced boy with a woolly scarf and a kicking ginger topknot, must use his powers as a Tinker to restore all the colour and unite the divided people of Colour Town.
A cartoon, handcrafted world of paper, glue and brightly coloured paint, The City of Colours sounds cute and most definitely is cute. The graphics are beautiful and the 3D environments a genuine pleasure to explore. When I am forced to look away from my television I am struck with how bland and uninteresting the real world is. It’s like spending a week in the Caribbean then arriving back in grim old Gatwick. The umbrellas aren’t nearly as pretty.
The Last Tinker is a 3D platform puzzler and adventure game. Expect to dash about looking for switches, mushroom patches, and ways in and out of a tight fix. The controls are simple with R2 (my favourite button of all time) doing most of the work for you and allowing you to flawlessly traverse the quirky landscape in a variety of ways. You can sprint, climb, skate smoothly down long lengths of rope and, my favourite, bounce vast distances via a rainbow jump pad. Take note, though, aside from when you’re leaping along rails dodging hurdles and thistle patches, there is no dedicated jump button. That might seem weird for a platform game, but as a person of limited spatial awareness, I rather like it. It makes a pleasant change not to misjudge and fall off absolutely every single obstacle, ledge and badly placed hole in the ground. Just run towards the gap with R2 held down and Koru will do all the hard work for you. No falling to a bloody and excruciating death. Unless you slip off the side of a pipe and fall into the Bleakness. I may have done that once or tw … enty times.
Along with my terrible sense of space, I also have an abysmal sense of direction. Luckily one quick press of the D-pad and Koru’s special friend Tap will streak across the screen in a shower of confetti to show you the way. He’s a handy little Tap. More on him in a moment. Also expect some combat. This isn’t a Batman game so don’t presume anything complicated, but you will find some enemies in need of a damn good thrashing.
As with most games there are a range of difficulty levels. I played on normal and found the game reasonably breezy, but there are several harder levels braver players can attempt and an easier setting that makes this game completely accessible to children. The Last Tinker is not a challenging psychotic-break-inducing frustration fest. I found it a very relaxing and therapeutic play. You know how it goes: Had a rough day, came very close to drowning someone in their low-fat yoghurt, don’t want to get wound up by an alien repeatedly blowing the top of my head off. What I want is to explore a huge, brightly coloured environment in my own time, with puzzles I have to think about but don’t require a Master’s Degree or a walkthrough to figure out.
The soundtrack adds to this tranquil atmosphere. The least we gamers expect from a game’s music is that it’s not annoying to the point where we want to unclip our ears and put them in a drawer. Thankfully, The Last Tinker’s soundtrack both calms and jollies you along with a catchy foot-tapping rhythm. I tried it out with a good quality gaming headset and it sounded even better. The voices are also a charming surprise. The characters speak in nonsense-noise while the actual words appear on the screen on cardboard banners. There are some interesting sound effects! Tap’s squeak makes me want to rush out and buy a basket of kittens, while another character sounds like a Terrier with a temper and a tug toy. Koru doesn’t say a lot. He’s the strong silent type.
As with any story that involves a main character being helped by a secondary character, the sidekick often gets ignored. So I would like to say a few words about Koru’s weird floaty pet, Tap. I want one. A want a Tap and I want it right now. If I had a magic lamp, I would rub it and demand the following three wishes from the scorching-hot, half-clothed, built-like-a-Chippendale genie: World peace, a billion pounds, and a 24inch cuddly Tap. And not necessarily in that order. Please please please, Mr Developer, sell millions of copies of this game and then make a film and toys. I need a Tap to put on my pillow.
Seriously, though, sometimes characters in video games, comics, films and books are instantly forgettable. Both Koru and Tap are the complete opposite. They are both massively likable and potentially iconic characters. My rule of thumb is, if I can picture them on a lunchbox, the designers got it right, and I want my matching flask, keyring and “Tap This” t-shirt.
There is a slightly old school feel to The Last Tinker. It’s traditional platforming with modern mechanics in a cheerful 3D environment. It’s … Nintendo-y. But where The Last Tinker could get lost amongst the Yoshis and Captain Toads of the Nintendo consoles, it stands out on the PS4. There are a few framerate issues I have to mention, but I also have a kind heart, and the quality of the gameplay, story, graphics and soundtrack all make up for the occasional judder. Forgiven.
I’d like to see more Tinker games from this developer. I’d very much like to see a Vita version. I’d also very much like to see that that 24inch cuddly Tap. Where are we on that, by the way?
The Last Tinker is a brightly-coloured rainbow of cheerful graphics, quirky and varied gameplay, and unique characters. It’s not a difficult game. It’s not even a particularly challenging game. But it is fun. If all games are a litter of puppies, this would be the extra cute one curled up contentedly in the corner. Go on, pick him up and tickle his ears. You know you want to.