The Last Tinker: City of Colors is a 3D platformer that has made it way from PC to the PS4. In it you play Koru, an ape like boy who lives in Tinkerworld. Tinkerworld is a magical place where everything is made simply from paper, glue, and of course colour (or color depending on your geographical location). Tinkerworld used to be a peaceful land, but the people have split, separating their city into districts based on color. Koru, it is soon revealed, is the only Tinker left in Tinkerworld and he is tricked into allowing the Purple Spirit to unleash The Bleakness on Tinkerworld, robbing the world of all its color. Koru and his good pal Tap must join with various zany characters and the other colour spirits to stop the Purple Spirit and save Tinkerworld.
This game is clearly aimed at kids, as shown by the ‘Kids Mode’ option you get when choosing your difficulty. The gameplay is fairly straight forward, the colours are bright and vibrant, the characters in the game are decidedly quirky and bizarre, and the entire world is actually made from paper, glue and colors, so the environments, speech bubbles, etc. add a level of delightful charm to the whole game. The storyline is also quite straightforward, using literal colours to teach kids about learning to accept one another for who they are.
The Last Tinker is a platformer so the majority of the gameplay revolves around that. As far as being a platformer goes, the game succeeds in producing some fun gameplay that capitalizes on its style of game but keeps it simple enough to not be overly complicated for its young target audience. There are some other styles of gameplay to change things up. You’ll find some parts of the game where you have to sneak around and there is also combat throughout. There are also collectables that allow you to unlock new moves, upgrade your current ones and unlock special bonuses like concept art.
The biggest success of The Last Tinker though is its level design. Tinkerworld is extremely pretty to run around in! The various districts are dominated by one colour, and you can tell the developers clearly had a lot of fun with the art design. The character designs are undeniably whacky as the colour districts residents all look different and have attitudes that correspond to the emotional personality linked with each colour (red=anger/blue=sad, etc.). None of the characters actually speak either. All of them bleat, coo or babble whatever and the translations appear as speech bubbles. One of the things I liked was the speech bubbles and a few things around the districts that were cardboard. You can turn the camera to see that that’s what they were made of. All of these things add up to give this game its own quirky charm. The music is pretty good too. It’s never abrasive but never subtle, and the changes in the music coincided perfectly with the action on screen. The only downside to the music was the track loop was pretty short, so if you left it paused or didn’t move for some time it could begin to rub you the wrong way.
Unfortunately for The Last Tinker, it seems to have fallen victim to the dreaded port problems. Throughout the game I was disappointed to see frame rate issues. It wasn’t just some isolated instances either, but a regular occurrence. It really took away from the colourful world and was actually a huge setback with gameplay. There was also a lag in the controls; there was about a second difference from when pushing a button to when Koru responded on screen. This got annoying when you had to time your jumps from one platform to another. The camera control was also an issue for me. Having camera control is definitely a plus for a platformer, but in The Last Tinker it seemed to have a mind of its own. It would often times just randomly flip on me or be far too sensitive at times and then not sensitive enough at others. Also, while the combat aspect of the game is a major component, it was also terribly dull. Very repetitive and almost comically easy, I began to dread having to fight a large group of foes when I found a new spirit.
To be fair, I let my nephew take a crack at the game to see how he would feel about it, as he did represent the game’s target audience. While he didn’t laugh at the ‘jokes’ in it, he seemed to enjoy himself. He told me that it was fun, but it was easy to get bored of. He did go back to it a couple of times and play for about an hour each time, so he clearly did seem to like it somewhat.
Overall, The Last Tinker: City of Colors falls in the middle of the road. It’s not amazing, but it’s definitely not awful. While it functions well enough as a platformer, performance issues keep it from being a stand out in the genre. However, it did look really good and given my nephew enjoyed it I think that the audience it’s aimed will too, as it did quite a few things right. Sadly though, despite its charm, The Last Tinker never manages to break out and leave its mark, instead it settles into an entertaining play that is, ultimately, becomes forgettable.