The lights are on
Color has gone haywire in The Last Tinker: City of Colors. The inhabitants of Tinkerworld used to get along well, but now they’ve separated themselves into color-coded districts. It’s up to you and the game’s crafty hero, Koru, to set things straight again in this ambitious indie action-platformer.
When Koru’s adventure begins, it’s the morning of a big race. His buddy, a little floating ram named Tap, hurries Koru – and players – along, acting as an on-the-fly tutorial. The main path is blocked by a locked gate, which gives Koru an excuse to show off his nimble moves. In The Last Tinkers’ vibrant world, everything is constructed from paper, color, and glue, with a handmade look reminiscent of games like Viva Pinata and Tearaway.
The Last Tinker’s movement systems are clearly inspired by the Assassin’s Creed series, and it works well. Players don’t have total control over Koru’s jumping; instead, they hold down a trigger button (I played a PC demo, which offers full gamepad support) to run, and Koru makes the proper jumps when appropriate. It’s not completely brainless; in the tutorial section, he hops across the water using poles that jut from its surface. That’s essentially on autopilot, as long as you’re facing toward his next move. A bit further on, however, Koru has to take advantage of an octopus’ tentacles, which submerge and reemerge in a pattern. If you try to dash across without paying attention, you’ll end up in the drink and take damage. To pass, you have to wait on the stationary pilings and make a run for it when it’s safe.
Once Koru makes it into town for the race, he learns that it’s not as simple as standing on the starting line and waiting for someone to say, “Go!” Things are getting bleak, and Koru has to pay a hefty admission fee. He earns the money in a few tutorial jobs. In the first, players learn Koru’s combat moves, which again are similar to something out of Assassin’s Creed or Rocksteady’s Arkham games. While you certainly can stand rooted to the floor and take out enemies one at a time, Koru can also bounce between several targets and use counterattacks. The moves are simple, but get the job done. Next, players learn how to use an A.I. companion named Biggs, who can be lured into position by whistling and has to be shrunk to navigate through some simple obstacle-based puzzles.
After Koru registers, the race is on. His biggest rival is a mouthy jerk who sabotages the event, forcing the player to take advantage of all their parkour and rail-sliding moves to make it to the finish. Koru takes second place, and Tap calls out the cheater, who leaves in a huff. He shows up at Koru’s house later, along with a gang of bullies. Koru’s tiny friend takes the worst of the ensuing fight, and all looks hopeless.
Fortunately for everyone, Koru’s no ordinary hero. As it turns out, he’s the last tinker, which means only he can bring the colors together and make Tinkerworld the peaceful haven it once was. That means he’ll have to work with the color spirits that are scattered throughout the various districts.
In a recent hands-off demo, I got to see some of the later levels and Kuro’s enhanced abilities. Each of the colors in the game is associated with an attribute, such as red and bravery, green and curiosity, and blue and fortitude. Unfortunately, they’ve been corrupted into anger, fear, and sadness, respectively. Kuro can use these colors to his advantage, scaring opponents away in combat, or blowing open new paths with explosive rage bombs. I had a good time with the demo, and I'm looking forward to playing the later levels. Those incorporate more sophisticated puzzle elements, and combat seems to be more challenging as well.
Mimimi is bringing The Last Tinker: City of Colors to PC and consoles this summer. It's certainly one of the best-looking indie games I've seen in a while, and if the gameplay can continue to match the strength of the visuals it could be something special.
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