A Pikmin By Any Other Name
Tinykin didn’t hit my radar until after it released in August. The title developed by Splashteam and published by tinyBuild centers around a tiny man named Milo. Milo is an explorer who has crash landed into a house trapped in the ‘90s (including Polaroid cameras and VHS tapes) and devoid of people, but with a thriving community of bugs. To make it back home he’ll employ the aid of Ridmi, an elder bug, to assemble a spacecraft using items strewn across several sections of the house.
It’s a bit reductive, but I can see why the comparisons to Pikmin exist. You’re a captain who comes across tiny minions that follow you around and have different types and abilities. The purple ones pick things up, red ones explode on certain structures, green ones stack on top of each other, etc. That’s where the comparisons end. Beyond environmental hazards, there are no antagonistic forces; all characters beside you are there either as a quest giver or to give dialogue that helps flesh out the world. The environment is low pressure and easygoing.
That tone is Tinykin’s biggest strength. There is no sense of urgency, as nothing is time sensitive or fraught with danger. Primary objectives include such tasks as baking a cake and finding all the ingredients strewn about a messy kitchen. Each area also has side quests like finding letters to put in a mailbox, locating jewelry, and collecting nectar drops littered around the map. Each map has a lot of verticality to it, with lots of climbing up to counters or tabletops and across narrow ledges. Even without the small but mighty Tinykin on hand, Milo is equipped with a glide that can be upgraded throughout the game and is a critical tool to bridge those gaps. Movement is crisp, and you have a soap bar that lets you slide across the map with ease and a nice sense of momentum.
This world is a joy to explore thanks to a level design that has clear enough direction to mainline the primary objective but also encourages wandering. Never once did I start by focusing on the objectives. Why would I when I can just start exploring and let the wind blow me in a direction that piqued my curiosity? The nectar drops are the perfect kind of bread crumbs that lead you in a direction without pigeonholing what you can explore. I am a person who naturally moves by line of best fit, but even I ended up choosing the path of a wanderer.
Tinykin is a “stop and smell the roses'' kind of game that is brief in a way that gives a meaningful experience without overstaying its welcome. Its charming world and endearing characters are a pleasant window dressing to this safe, mellow bit of fun, and that’s all it needs to be. Splashteam’s singular focus on exploration and charm runs deep, and the end result is laudable for their Sophomore outing.