It's probably safe to say that 3D platformers will likely never come back in full force. Sure, you've got the one-off sleeper hit like Jett Rocket, but with 2D platformers taking over the genre, their 3D counterparts are certain to remain few and far between. That's kind of okay, because camera issues and wonky physics tend to mar these types of games all too often, and it's really the worlds of 3D platformers that are most interesting — more so than their actual mechanics. That's why it's cool that The Last Tinker: City of Colors focuses more on creating a lovely world for you to run around in than actually emulating the gameplay of 3D platformers.
The first thing that stands out in The Last Tinker is just how beautiful the whole thing looks. The environments remind me of something that Rareware would've done back in the late '90s. That said, thanks to the marvels of modern technology (and the fact that The Last Tinker isn't running on a cartridge), developer Mimimi Productions is building a world that looks much more amazing than anything that could've been created back in those days.
The critter-like quality of the characters only makes up a tiny bit of the charm that The Last Tinker exudes. True to the game's title, the land of Colortown really is a city of colors. Hills are drenched with different shades of green. The sky is bright and filled with beautiful blues. And all throughout the game's world you encounter bold reds, appealing oranges, stunning pinks, and many, many other brilliant colors. Graphically, the game looks great, but aesthetically, it's absolutely incredible to behold, and you're instantly tempted to see more and more of the stylish world.
The story here is fairly easy to follow, which is fitting given the game's old school platformer appeal. Simplicity aside, The Last Tinker actually touches on some meaningful topics such as racism and bullying. Basically, the world's been literally torn apart to separate creatures of different colors. By that I actually mean colors like red and blue and green — not necessarily skin tones as we know them, but the colors that these characters are drenched in nonetheless. It's up to a boy named Koru to put this segregated world back together, all the while battling abusive characters' heinous actions.
The Last Tinker is still a cheery, colorful game, though, so it would be a complete contrast to have such a bright-looking title be completely dark and brooding. Serious themes aside, the game is filled with lighthearted dialogue and offbeat characters. Some things can be a bit too kiddy, though, and while I played the introductory hour of the game I found myself both delighted at the quirky nature of The Last Tinker and wondering if maybe I was a bit too old to be playing it. I pressed on, though, and I'm glad I did.
There's actually no jump button in The Last Tinker, which immediately turns this into a sort of pseudo-platformer. The actual jumping is handled automatically a la Zelda, though there's a bit of parkour-style action on hand, too. Koru can jump off ledges and onto other platforms, tips of pointed rocks, and other such “sticky” points. He'll immediately attach to the next platform as long as you run in its general direction, so it's not exactly difficult to traverse Colortown. That doesn't mean it isn't fun to do so, though.
You can scale tall hills, skip over rocks along the surface of ponds, and grind along rails. Yes, all of these mechanics have already been seen in other games like Sonic and even InFamous, but they come together here to create a fluid experience nonetheless. Add to that the fact that the world is just a sheer joy to explore and discover, and it makes all of these familiar mechanics all the more gratifying.
One thing I was neither excited about or disappointed with was the combat. Quite simply, Koru's got some basic striking combos that can be utilized during fight sequences with enemy characters. I didn't encounter any bosses, so I'm not sure how those bouts will play out, but the few encounters I had with gangs of aggressive characters weren't especially interesting. That said, the combat is totally functional, and the addition of a dodge move makes it so that you're not stuck taking a pounding from the game's baddies.
When I reached the end of the demo, I was a tad doleful at the fact that I couldn't continue playing. It's not because The Last Tinker is all that challenging or because it's a lot like the 3D platformers of old, because it's neither of those things. I wanted to keep playing because I loved being dropped into a world that reminded me of the games I enjoyed as a kid sans the pesky camera problems and control foibles, all the while relying on mechanics that aren't necessarily new but still feel fresh for this style of game.
I had a genuinely good time during this delightfully colorful adventure's opening hour, and I was glad to see that a developer can make a Banjo-Kazooie-esque game without forcibly relying on Banjo-Kazooie-esque gameplay. Suffice it to say I'm excited for the summer launch of The Last Tinker on PC and currently undisclosed consoles.
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