Physics and puzzler go together like bangers and mash in the indie gaming world, an increasing number of titles fitting into that genre hit out distribution channels on a daily basis. The latest to arrive on our desks is Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers, which immediately stood out thanks to it’s rather strange title. Will it be like every other physics puzzler on the market? Let’s find out!
Tiny & Big tells a tale of science, exploration and magical underpants. You play as Tiny, a smart little guy who has an affinity for science, video-games and adventure. Big, your arch nemesis is a jerk, who is intent on using magical powers granted to him by a pair of magical underpants to cause you trouble. You set off with the aid of your trusty tools to catch up with Big and teach him some manners.
It’s a harmless story, but it never really gathers any momentum as you simply chase Big from area to area. While I wasn’t expecting an epic story full of twists and turns, it would be great if the characters developed a little, considering their fun-filled nature.
The gameplay is what drives the experience, and what a wonderful experience it is. The player is introduced to the mechanics during a charming tutorial which plays out like an old Gameboy game. Tiny is playing on his handheld, complete with retro sound effects and green graphics, which is sure to touch the hearts of every retro gamer out there.
Tiny can push items, use a handy claw to grab and pull parts of the environment, shoot rockets which can propel objects out of his way and use his laser to literally slice the environment to his will. You will be required to use a combination of all these skills to make your way after Big, slicing, pushing and pulling your way to victory.
It is so satisfying to slice through a huge column and have it crashing down, simply because you can. That’s where Tiny & Big really shines, it lets the player find their own way. You are presented with a goal, then it is up to you to find you way through. During one segment alone I sliced, dragged and jumped my way through five different ways, meaning that each user will have their own take on how a puzzle should be solved. That’s definitely what makes a great gameplay experience.
At its core, I’m finding it quite hard to find fault with Tiny & Big as an enjoyable experience, despite a few minor quirks.”
Tiny & Big may not be the most graphically intensive game on the market, but it more than makes up for it with artistic direction. The game looks like an amalgamation of Sin City, Adventure Time and Borderlands – a living and breathing comic that stands out from the pack. CRASH! PLOK! ZAP! and more will fill the screen as you go about your slicing and movements, and the characters simply ooze with charm.
The same can be said about the weird and wonderful soundtrack that screams Mexican indie scene. The player can find tapes littered across the environments that will unlock new tracks with names that I cannot pronounce, but damn are they awesome. A mix between jazz, salsa and groove make this an audio delight.
Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, better go through it.
At its core, I’m finding it quite hard to find fault with Tiny & Big as an enjoyable experience, despite a few minor quirks. The lack of progression, whether it be story, character or gameplay is a little frustrating at times, but it doesn’t become a problem thanks to the short length. Players are given full power from the very start of the game, and while that may have caused issues if the game was six hours long, considering the game can be completed in a few hours it’s easier to swallow. The lack of character progression is rather disappointing however – Tiny and Big seem like two characters I want to learn more about, and I hope we see them again in future instalments.
The other issue I had with proceedings were the keyboard controls. While they work fairly well, when comparing the gameplay to a gamepad they seemed to be lagging behind a little. It’s not a huge issue, it doesn’t break the experience, but if you have a gamepad you’ll want to use it. Despite these minor flaws, Tiny & Big will tickle the fancy of any platformer or puzzle fan.
The Final Verdict
Despite the complete lack of progression on all fronts, Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a fun and challenging experience that sticks out thanks to its unique art style, audio and name. While the game can be finished in just a few hours, the sandbox nature and simply fun and challenge should keep gamers coming back every few months to smash through it again. We’d love to see these characters return in a sequel that has a little more depth, but for now we’re more than satisfied.