The Last Tinker PS4 Review: Off-Color
The Last Tinker represents a return to classic late 90’s, turn of the century platforming for PS4 owners. While it doesn’t come from Sony themselves, its just about the closest you’ll get to a brand new Jak or Sly Cooper this side of Knack. While it fills a gaping void that Playstation 4 owners just can’t fill without using the word “LEGO”, it isn’t without blemishes that also remind us of the worst parts of a bygone era in Playstation platforming.
The game stars Koru, an ape-like hero who possesses the rare powers and fortitude to fight an evil force that is draining the world of all its color. Combat works similar to the Batman Arkham games where players alternate between punching and pressing a button to dodge. Overall the combat never gets that difficult to require very much dodging but its a nice touch that hasn’t been done in a 3D platformer.
Later in the game players gain new abilities like ranged attacks, mixing things up a bit while never making anything too difficult for younger players. It can be a bit mindless at times and feel like you’re on autopilot just mashing buttons but the game does throw in new enemies from time to time which is a relief. Throughout the game you gain the ability to scare off enemies or freeze them in place, keeping combat fresh so it never feels too repetitive. In addition to this there are some Wind Waker like stealth sections that require absolute precision, adding layers to the game.
Platforming works a little different in The Last Tinker. Players hold the R2 button to run and Koru will automatically make jumps and climb while this button is held down. R1 performs a roll which is necessary for some platforming sections but rolling isn’t used all that much for traversal. This feels different than a traditional Mario, or Ratchet game where you have a dedicated jump button.
I suppose it works just as well though it felt a bit lifeless to not press a distinct jump button in a platformer. Even as I neared the conclusion of 6 hour adventure I still would get confused and think I should be pressing X instead of holding R2.
The plot in The Last Tinker is a step above most platformers today. Koru as the “chosen one” with superpowers isn’t the only narrative, there is a color-war going on in the universe. Red, Green and Blue races don’t trust each other and often verbally attack one another. This is an obvious symbolism for racism and it sends the message that racism, i.e. colorism in this game’s case, is a bad thing that no one should take part in.
These lessons are doled out in kid friendly ways and never gets very dark though it probably shouldn’t. The idea behind the main plot is that an evil force is taking out all the color in the world while all the different color races feud with each other over who is better.
This part of the game must be commended. In an era when so many game developers/publishers are copying each other, looking for the next big AAA blockbuster its nice to see a smaller studio craft a title in a genre not known to be as popular on PS4 as other genres. It goes with the game’s theme of individuality making everyone better, how leaving the color in our lives will open us up to new experiences if we can just learn to tolerate one another.
Presentation-wise The Last Tinker simply suffices. The graphics are passable but don’t look anywhere near as good as other platformers on PS4 (Knack) and sometimes characters and environment pieces would blend in too much with one another. Its pretty and has a refreshing art style that excels at being nothing like most games you play on PS4 but not at doing anything particularly unique that no one has done before in the past or on non-PS4 consoles. I also encountered several instances of severe frame drops in my playthrough. Typically this occurred when enemies suddenly appeared on screen or just after a cut scene. Still, its an odd issue to have considering the game doesn’t look like it’s pushing the system very hard.
Audio-wise the game stumbles. Some of the music sounds good enough even if its ultimately forgettable. Other tracks sound entirely out of place and don’t mesh well with the town you’re in, the NPCs you’re talking to or the puzzle/combat scenario you’re dealing with. While the dialogue isn’t bad and the pop-up text boxes are a nice touch, I felt like I was playing an early PS1 platformer with no voice acting at times due to all excessive text reading. This is an indie game so I suppose it shouldn’t be held against Mimimi Productions but voice acting a la Ratchet/Jak would have gone a long way in improving the game’s presentation issues.
But The Last Tinker does what it sets out to do well enough. The platforming, combat and puzzle solving are an absolute cake walk and never pose a real challenge. Sometimes you’re not looking for a difficult game though and simply want something charming to hold you over until the next big game on your wishlist. The Last Tinker is that game. It won’t stop you from wishing for a brand new Sly Cooper, Crash Bandicoot, etc for your PS4 but it will entertain you for the short time that it lasts.
The Last Tinker: City of Colors may not be a game you remember playing on your PS4 five years from now. Nonetheless when something does jog your memory you will look back on it fondly and say it was "pretty good" despite some short comings in presentation and overall easiness. Review copy provided by Loot Entertainment.