Review – Tinykin

We have reviewed a handful of games by tinyBuild in the past, and for the most part, they were duds. The company is doing a Herculean job trying to become yet another Devolver in the market (as in, a bigger indie publisher with style and attitude), but their output of quality titles was simply nonexistent. Bad games like Hello Neighbor, Hellpoint, and Happy’s Humble Burger Farm felt more like YouTuber fodder rather than actually well-crafted indie hits. That stigma ends now. Developed by the small team at Splashteam, Tinykin is the publisher’s magnum opus so far. It’s one of the most adorable and well-polished indies I’ve played in a while.

Tinykin Milo

Our main character looks like he would become the kind of buddy Dexter would allow to see his Laboratory after school.

You control the little Milo, who after a botched experiment is transported back to 1991, to your standard suburban house, but with a caveat: he’s the size of an insect. He finds an elder bug who is willing to help him out if Milo finds it a handful of pieces for a so-called important machine whose instructions were left behind by the owner of this house long ago. In order to complete his objectives, Milo receives help from the titular Tinykin, small creatures who are completely loyal to him, and can do specific functions depending on their color.

If this sounds like Pikmin… well, that because it’s a similar concept. Tinykin is the love child between the “simplified army management” gameplay loop of Pikmin, the level design of Toy Story 2 for the PS1/N64, and the 3D platforming and collectathon sensibilities of Super Mario 64. What impressed me the most about this blend of gameplay styles and influences is how natural everything felt in this hodgepodge. Tinykin is really easy to learn, and not so difficult to master. I’m not saying the game is a complete cakewalk, but it teaches you its mechanics in a very organic manner, allowing you to think outside the box to complete its many mandatory and optional puzzles. It feels oh so rewarding.

Tinykin Blue

Blue Tinykin can transport electricity from one point to another.

It doesn’t share the same control scheme as Pikmin. It’s not a light version of a real-time strategy game. You control Milo with your traditional 3D platformer gameplay scheme, and you just so happen to have a ton of Tinykin following you around. They act as your deus ex machina puzzle-solving mechanics. You’re casually walking through a level and see a giant book blocking your path. Just grab a few pink Tinykin, aim at the book, and throw them onto the puzzle, solving it. If there is a frail wooden barrier, you can blow it up with (expendable) red Tinykin, who act as bombs. Green Tinykin can be used to create tall platforms for you to climb on. Blue Tinykin can transfer electricity, and so on.

Each level can be explored at will, with no time limit, and very little in terms of threats that can harm you. Tinykin is laid-back and accessible. Besides each main objective, which will open the path to the next area, there are side objectives that will grant you new power-ups and additional collectibles. They are usually comprised of more complex puzzles, sometimes requiring you to obtain something acquired at later levels in order to solve them.

Tinykin Scope

You can explore the entirety of this feature-filled room. Tinykin’s level design is sublime.

My only real complaint is that the game isn’t very long. Perhaps that’s also because I waltzed through it, being unable to stop playing it. It’s a fantastic gameplay loop, full of collectibles, neat little puzzles, and tons of characters to interact with. The level design was absolutely superb. Splashteam did a fantastic job with each level, making the most mundane of household rooms look more expansive and exciting to explore than a map from Skyrim. I wanted more from Tinykin, and that is the best kind of “issue” I could have with a game like this.

It doesn’t mean that Tinykin doesn’t have some technical issues, they’re just minute. Its visuals are AMAZING, comprised of hand drawn characters, resembling a 90s animated show, interacting in a realistic polygonal environment. It’s not unlike the first few Paper Mario games, when you think about it. It looked great, but I had some issues with the game’s framerate, namely whenever I was commanding a ton of Tinykin at once, which would happen more often than not.

Tinykin Soap

Tony Hawk’s Pro Soaper.

I also had a few camera issues here and there, mostly due to the way some areas featured fixed camera angles whenever I was exploring them. For the most part, however, it was a non-issue, as the controls felt fluid and responsive. Despite the sheer amount of Tinykin I had to command, as well as being forced to remember their usage at all times, it was really easy to understand the game’s controls. To make things even better, I was given a block of soap right from the get-go, which acted like a skateboard (yes, really), allowing me not only to walk around levels with ease, but also use threads of web and similar things as grindable rails.

Finally, another high mark in a game so full of them is its sound design. Tinykin doesn’t feature voice acting, but that wasn’t a problem at all. Instead, it featured that adorable gibberish spouted whenever a character opened their mouths. To top things off, its soundtrack was amazing, resembling the kind of stuff we’d hear in an animated show from the 90s. No complaints here at all.

Boat and Key

It kinda feels like slavery, but they look so happy while doing these tough tasks…

Tinykin is the kind of the game that completely changes the image and course of the developers and publishers behind it. I was shocked at how amazing this game was. I just couldn’t stop playing it. The mixture between Pikmin, Toy Story 2 and Super Mario 64 resulted in a stupidly creative indie darling with a ton of charm, great controls, and a fantastic presentation. My main issue with it is that I wanted more from it, I didn’t want it to end. That’s the best kind of complaint you could have in a little gem like this.


Graphics: 9.0

A handful of really annoying framerate issues are the only reason this game isn’t getting a perfect score for graphics, given how amazing its blend of cartoon visuals and realistic backgrounds looks.

Gameplay: 9.5

A perfect blend between a 3D platformer, a puzzle game, and Pikmin, with shockingly simple controls and phenomenal level design, only hampered by a very occasional camera issue.

Sound: 9.0

It doesn’t feature voice acting, just some cute gibberish. What makes this sound department stand out is the fantastic soundtrack.

Fun Factor: 9.0

I wanted more of it. Tinykin is downright adorable, impressively well thought out, and stupidly fun. The fact you can waltz through in a few hours is a bummer, but there’s a lot to do in it besides its straightforward story missions.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Tinykin is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Tinykin was provided by the publisher.