REVIEW : Tinytopia (PC)
Once upon a time, the most exciting item we possessed was a rickety tower of blocks. But, unfortunately, our imagination was only limited by physics and gravity, whether we envisioned it as a large cityscape or a solitary defended castle. Maybe we could not build a solid building, or maybe it was our siblings or classmates who threatened to tear it down. In any event, the blocks were removed, and time passed.
Tinytopia, the next game from MeNic Games, is inspired by the sense of building little cities on a tabletop. Tinytopia is the most stunning and ambitious title in the Argentinian studio’s collection of specialized city-builders that use physics.
STORY – CHAOTIC AND QUIRKY
Players are cast in an unseen “Mayor,” who has complete power over where and how structures are built. This idea will be familiar to anyone who has ever played a SimCity or RollerCoaster Tycoon game; you’re simply a simple character trying to build the greatest cities of all time.
Tinytopia has a twist: certain configurations can enhance buildings, and everything is reduced to fit on a coffee table. Each level’s premise is distinct, swinging between real-world locations and ludicrous fictional events, keeping the gimmick fresh for much longer.
The balance between the more straightforward and nonsensical stages is crucial to the success of this title. Too much of one style becomes as repetitive as the gameplay, and there are no intriguing creative circumstances to look forward to. The range of tasks, from creating casinos in the desert to balancing a town on a seesaw, is critical to the endurance of play.
It would be absurd to claim that one sort of level has greater worth than the other because they are inextricably linked. Tinytopia would not function as well if it were simply a clear interpretation of a municipal planning tool. It requires ridiculous ideas to balance out the tedious task of unlocking the Eiffel Tower.
GAMEPLAY – GOAL-ORIENTED GAINS
Each level’s goal is largely the same. The major purpose usually entails achieving a population target or creating “Special Buildings” (also require a population goal). It would help if you expanded the city as best you can with the limited resources you have at your disposal. There are frequently only a few types of dwellings or companies to select from, and they rarely supply much in the way of jobs or citizens.
Tinytopia offers an intriguing merging mechanic that allows you to enhance the structures to get better resources, preventing the landscapes from becoming a giant cluster of small residences. Instead of having many modest apartment buildings, arrange them next to each other, and they will combine, expanding their effect and saving you some square footage.
This concept is quite simple to implement; simply erecting structures will usually result in an upgrade. Hovering the cursor over a unit will reveal which other structures are required to level up, as well as the proper placement. It’s a simple system that, for the most part, is favourable to having a good time.
The fundamental loop rapidly becomes tiring. Click, merge, click, merge, click, merge, click, merge. It’s repetitious, and there aren’t enough different hurdles to conquer to complete a level. When I knocked down a building, something might catch fire, but I was always able to pick it up before the flames started. There isn’t enough agency in the destination-focused levels to keep my attention.
Tinytopia is a city-builder on a smaller scale in every way. There are no sophisticated options to explore to modify the energy that your commercial district requires; instead, it’s all about building funny and sloppy towers and structures with a hint of physics. It’s not a cross between Cities: Skylines and Bridge Constructor; there’s a snap-in-place button that you can enable to prevent most building collapses.
Unfortunately, the UI mechanics and other tools contributed the most to my disappointment. For example, every time I finished moving something, the “Move Object” tool became deselected, which meant I had to go back and click the oversized bubble button again. On moving levels, this became even more of a pain, as I had to pursue objects all over the globe and the interface to complete a simple task.
GRAPHICS/AUDIO – JUST TOO CUTE
Tinytopia, you appear to be playing with an actual toy box (at least until the flames start). Each unit has a plastic finish that gives it the appearance of a child’s construction set. The overall art direction is a joy to behold.
The area around your play area appears to be a living room or bedroom, strewn in discarded toys and typical messes of youth. I’m a sucker for any game that allows me to play in a scaled-up version of my childhood bedroom (Army Men, Katamari Damacy, etc.), so it’s no surprise that I adored the look of this title.
The soundtrack is filled with pleasant elevator music with jazz undertones. A simple swing beat floats across the drums while the bass and several horns take turns taking the lead, and it’s incredibly enticing. It’s almost as if you were on hold with your parents while playing with your toys in the background. The game’s sound design is a lovely tribute to a bygone era.