Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
August 30, 2022
Our world is simply massive. Huge cities filled with millions of people; vast, sprawling deserts teeming with life; endless oceans stretching away under infinite skies. Caught up in the minutiae of our little lives, it can be easy to forget just how small we are. It follows, then, that the billions of insects around us could be similarly introspective: focussed on their own stories, their own cultures, their own dramas. It’s this miniature mundane world that forms the setting for 3D platformer Tinykin, and it turns out our little insectoid pals lead very busy lives.
An adorable 3D platformer, Tinykin is an adventure through a human home populated by an insect society. The player, a space explorer crash-landed and shrunk to teeny-tiny proportions, is tasked with rebuilding their vehicle with the help of a few buggy buddies. What follows is a journey through the relatively giant home, spanning living rooms, bathrooms, and even a piano.
Milo, the pink-haired protagonist, has a special talent for befriending the titular Tinykin. These super-cute one-eyed bugs make powerful allies, harbouring unique abilities that let you traverse the world more easily and solve the problems of its inhabitants. The task of repairing Milo’s ship requires sourcing some vital parts, each held in a different area of the house. You’ll need to assist the insects of each area in a variety of quests before your Tinykin can collect the next ship part, meaning you’ll be spending the bulk of your time platforming around chatting to bugs and fixing their issues.
The insects in the world have wonderfully fleshed-out lives, forming sub-cultures, economies, and even a theistic religion. It’s a real pleasure to see the world change as you complete quests and check in with each area’s buggy beings. Most of the writing is tongue-in-cheek without going overboard, striking that perfect balance of being accessible to kids while throwing quips in for the grown-ups. I thoroughly enjoyed getting a bathroom rave started for the partying silverfish, an absolute highlight.
The audio-visual presentation in Tinykin is similarly delightful. Using two-dimensional characters in a 3D world may draw technical inspiration from the Paper Mario series, but the stylistic detail in the sprite-work and vibrant animations set Tinykin’s visuals apart. Placing its cartoonish creatures in nostalgic 90s environments makes them stand out almost as much as their loud personalities. The music is catchy and forms a bright backdrop to your relaxing adventures.
Tinykin’s gameplay takes most of its cues from traditional 3D platformers, tasking you with collecting items and solving simple puzzles while exploring each area for hidden treasures. The platforming controls feel super tight, complementing a suite of abilities unlocked by amassing your army of Tinykin followers that swarm around you like Nintendo’s Pikmin. You collect the critters from colourful eggs scattered across the environment, and each kind has its own special skill. Purple-coloured Tinykin can carry large objects, red ones can be thrown and explode on impact, and the green can be stacked on top of each other to form makeshift ladders. The more buddies you have, the more powerful your abilities: heavier objects require more purple Tinykin, and higher platforms require more green.
Using your pal’s powers takes a little getting used to, but you’ll soon be chaining together jumps and firing explosive bugs with ease. Some of the Tinykin powers feel much more fun to use than others. I was always excited to add more green buddies to my collection, but I dreaded seeing any blue eggs in an area. Blue Tinykin conduct electricity, meaning you need to make chains of them one-by-one to solve any puzzles that require an electric current, which gets tedious quickly. In addition to your creature kit, you also have access to a mid-air floating “bubble” ability, which can be extended through spending any collectable nectar you’ve gathered in each area with the potion-brewing merchant.
Any 3D platformer thrives on exploration, and Tinykin rewards you with secrets and achievements aplenty for going off the beaten path. Troves of nectar lie in wait, as do unique “treasures” that can be returned to the museum curator. The world manages to feel full and engaging without being overwhelming. This is largely due to the lack of combat, which I found surprisingly comforting. The only hazards to worry about are patches of spacesuit-frazzling water and the occasional threat of fall damage, both of which simply deposit you back to safety. Exploring Tinykin’s areas feels incredibly relaxing as a result, allowing you to lean into enjoying its silly scenarios and kooky characters without any stress.
As it stands, you never really need to master the platforming controls, since most puzzles can be solved by simply gathering more Tinykin – for example, if a platform is too high, rather than finding an alternate path you can just collect more green Tinykin. It’s an interesting approach to self-selecting difficulty, and makes the beginning of each area feel like a reset since Tinykin don’t carry across.
While I appreciate Tinykin’s chilled-out approach to platforming, it occasionally strayed into repetitive territory, particularly with some of the later-game “escort” quests. You’ll be tasked with transporting a bunch of heavy objects across the map, one by one. This means you’ll need to wait for your purple Tinykin to carry them, rarely interacting by building bridges of yellow Tinykin along the way. After a few times, it just feels like padding, and is one of the few areas where a bit more of a challenge would have spiced things up a little.
It took me around seven hours to finish the main story in Tinykin, though a keener collectathon-enthusiast would find several more hours of fun in scraping each level for secrets and unlocking each “bubble” extension. Like its titular critters, I feel this platforming adventure is best enjoyed in little doses. Dip into Tinykin’s bug-filled biomes whenever you need to chill out and just be small for a while.
- Cosy, charming little adventure with a lot of heart
- Tight platforming controls and varied abilities
- Forgiving, relaxing exploration-focused gameplay
- Repeated escort quests feel like padding
- Some of the tinykin abilities aren't very interesting to use
Tinykin delivers a fun-sized chunk of satisfying 3D-platforming joy for all ages. Its charming cartoonish visuals and delightful cast of insectoids are bursting with personality and whimsy. While it doesn’t provide much of a platforming challenge and drags its feet a bit through some repetitive escort missions, it’s impossible not to smile at this joyous mini-world of anxious dung beetles and partying silverfish. A relaxing, cozy little adventure that will entertain the young-at-heart.