Tiny and Mighty
After first seeing Tinykin – a relatively unknown quantity – at PAX East 2022, I was excited to see how this Pikmin x Honey, I Shrunk the Kids inspired game would all come together. Happily, the team at Splashteam delivers a game that is tiny in scope, but gigantic in execution and fun.
Tinykin opens up with a spry little character, Milo, tinkering around in his laboratory. To his excitement, he stumbles upon an ancient signal from a nearby galaxy. Unfortunately, once he rockets from his home planet, he finds himself trapped in an early 1990’s house that seems to have been abandoned. The twist though, is that Milo is the size of a bug and must find all the necessary pieces of equipment to rebuild his broken ship and get home. Luckily, he finds the aid of some adorable little creatures, aptly named tinykin, with unique abilities to help him along this journey. The set-up for the game is formed within moments of starting the game, and though I did not have a deep desire to delve into the story any further, it provided the context for all the gameplay features and mechanics. In addition to the major story, you find smaller arcs dealing with social justice, resource equity, among other things, that further flesh out this microcosm of a world – all while the characters are different types of bugs.
The high praise of Tinykin easily goes to the gameplay. Throughout the game, there is a special emphasis on exploration – with every corner offering something to aid in the game. In addition to the idea of exploration, I really enjoyed the focus on vertical traversing. Instead of only looking left and right, I was pushed beyond that perspective and truly focused on a 3D exploratory model. Platforming around flowers or pushing books down to create ramps further fueled the ability to explore and find various resources, objectives, and silly characters throughout. I’m hard pressed to think of a better formulated environment within each room that has so many fun and meaningful secrets. I not only wanted to constantly explore, I found a deliberate purpose behind each movement and action. Once I was comfortably done exploring a room, I mostly found all the side missions, hidden areas, and challenges to discover (albeit, later levels become a bit more tricky). Traversal through exploration also maximized my enjoyment of the game. Very quickly, you’re given a rectangular soap bar that you can essentially use as accelerated movement like a skateboard. You could also grind on various edges, which don’t really change the speed or have any special features, but looks and feels totally rad while you’re doing it. I never felt bored while traversing through each area – a difficult feat that not many games have achieved.
The exploration also excels because of the tinykin – the little cute creatures that you find as you traverse through each area of the house. These creatures have special abilities that are unique to each color – reds are explosive, pink can carry items, blue can hold electric charges, etc. Happily, the game doesn’t throw all versions of them in the first level, but gradually trickles in another version periodically. This allowed me to really focus on what each iteration could do and how to master the puzzles associated with them. The puzzles that are directly associated with a specific type of tinykin usually has a specific quantity associated with them (IE: need 20 pink tinykin). This could be problematic for players who want to immediately rush into completing the level, but ultimately lose the point of the game. Since I played with exploration in mind, I was never hard pressed or frustrated by these minimum numbers. Instead, if I was deficient in a quantity, I simply made a mental note and went back to it after a few minutes of further inspection of the area. Additionally, unlike Pikmin, Tinykin doesn’t have a major countdown or time limit within the game. You can explore, traverse, and chat with creatures ‘til your heart’s content without any unwanted stress or locked-in time parameter.
With all this, Tinykin is also a beautifully crafted world inspired by the Paper Mario series, Pikmin franchise, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids all into one. The 2D character models are a fun juxtaposition to the artistically animated world that borders on a realistic environment with cartoonish fun. I loved how Milo and the tinykin maneuvered around the world as cut outs while seamlessly interacting and pushing through the world. Plus, the audio design and music was a fun attention to detail that continued to make all the right notes in the game.
Accessibility wise, there are customizations for inverted cameras as well as fully adjustable input options – a great feature that more games should include . However, there are no adjustments to font sizes or colors of texts, which could be difficult to some players.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Tinykin is a great 3D-platformer that wonderfully encourages exploration through charm. With plenty of things to find, interesting side stories to unravel, and cute creatures to interact with, Tinykin was certainly a challenge to put down until I finished. I hope you all take the plunge and join me in this tiny wonderland of fun!
A copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review on PlayStation 5.
A version of this review is also posted on Six One Indie.