Tinkerworld may seem like an ideal, colourful and happy land – like those that you’d usually expect to see in third person platforming games – but, even before the enemies have invaded and taken over, there are some very interesting things to ponder. Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is that people of different colours live in different districts, with a red, a blue, and a green section, though there are naturally areas where the populace is more mixed.
While it may seem like a comment on segregation, highlighting our own world’s history of racial abuse and selective profiling, it’s not really something that’s woven into the narrative. Instead, the plot is rather straightforward, with an evil entity draining the city of all colour, covering it with a white, absorbent material which freezes the citizens in place. Naturally, this brings the crumbling society together to defeat a common threat.
Aside from this, Tinkerworld is a beautiful place, where everything is made from cardboard, paper mâché and other crafty materials. It’s nowhere near as refined as the almost stop-motion papercraft style of Tearaway, but it definitely has its own merits, and isn’t afraid to break the rules to make something look even better. The varied colour palette alone is something worth noting, and bright, vibrant shades are blended together to create a really charming tone.
There’s no voice acting aside from incoherent mumbling and chirping from characters, but one thing which really adds to this style is the fact that the dialogue will appear as text printed on cardboard dialogue boxes. These will float in place within the game world rather appearing on screen, and there are several little quirks like this which really create a solid end product. Unfortunately, the game is marred with frame rate drops which can detract from this entirely.
In terms of gameplay, it’s very reminiscent of the first Jak & Daxter game when it comes to combat and exploration, but the platforming is a bit different from what you would expect, given that there’s no standard jumping. Instead, holding down a trigger will allow for Assassin’s Creed style parkour as Koru jumps from platform to platform, or climbs certain sections of walls.
This may seem too simple at first, where you can just hold the trigger and a direction on the analogue stick, but later on this is used to create some really unique and fast paced platforming sections, involving rail grinds, disappearing platforms, and suspended blockades. Tie that in with a combat system, which isn’t anywhere near the best in its field but just about works well enough, and you’ve got a really enjoyable platforming adventure.
This all takes placed in an open world, though it’s one which you’ll be guided through in quite a linear fashion. It’s a world which is populated with a cute and endearing cast of characters. Koru – the titular Tinker and protagonist – resembles a monkey, though there are instances of everything from bear-like creatures to rabbit/turtle hybrids. There’s also Biggs, who you’ll meet from time to time, and when he’s not a hulking and dumb mushroom creature, he can transform into a smaller version of himself named Bomber. He’s great, but often overused when a quick puzzle is required to pad out the gameplay.
The thing about Tinker, and this is likely to be the deal-breaker for some of you and the deal-maker for others, is that it feels as though it’s an HD remake of a PS2 title rather than a dedicated PS4 game, and comes with the budget indie price to match. For me, that’s not a bad thing as I really enjoy 3D platforming games, but it doesn’t do anything that we haven’t seen in those games before; there’s nothing inherently next generation about this title, and it’s very much a throwback than a look forward. But, if you loved those games then you’ll definitely get along with this.
That feeling doesn’t mean that the graphics are bad, though. The aforementioned art style is achieved with some excellent visuals in some places, and there’s a great use of particle effects with confetti floating around after characters. It all comes together to create something aesthetically pleasing, though it can be a tad jarring at times and lacks the polish of bigger titles.
Still, if you’re looking for a third person platforming adventure on the PlayStation 4, then you wouldn’t be doing yourself a disservice to consider picking up The Last Tinker. It’s certainly better than Sony’s own Knack, and comes at a much more affordable price point. It may not be nothing new for the genre, but you’ll probably feel at home enough to not care.