Jun 20 2012

Review of Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers


So we’re somewhat known for covering the indie stuff around here, not for any reason of philosophy mind you, those companies just happen to generally be easier for small sites like us to deal with from a PR angle. They are usually made up of very genuine people who are just stoked to show off what they have made and their games normally exude that same passion. One such game from one such developer is Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers by Black Pants Studio; it’s certainly indie and the gameplay looks intriguing but is it any good? To find out I gave the game a chunk of my weekend and I’m ready to render my verdict. So is this a unique gaming gem born from minds not yet jaded by the gaming industry or is it just one of those games enjoyed only by people stupid enough to tattoo mustaches on their index fingers and think that makes them better than everyone else? As always read on and find out!

Tearing down mighty mesas never stops being fun.

So starting off with the best thing going here, why don’t we get into the gameplay. The system at play here is deceptively simple and insanely fun in a user driven kind of way. the perfect mix as far as I’m concerned. Basically the game is a 3D platformer but you have three special mechanics: you can cut things with a laser whose orientation you can control, you can pull things with a grappling rope, and you can push things with attachable rockets. Using these three very simple tools you essentially can carve out the environment however you may like and solve puzzles your way instead of one singular solution. This versatility makes the game an absolute joy to play, the fact that the game will seemingly let you do anything you can think of with those three things makes this the most freeing experience I have played in a while.

The only major issue with this game is that it’s very short at only 2-3 hours. Portal was short in the same way though and in a lot of ways this game is better for it. Don’t take that to mean this game is lacking in content though, there is so much collectible crap, achievements, and secrets to find and unlock that even after the super short story you’ll have good reason to fuck around in levels. Besides, chopping blocks up and giggling as ancient architecture falls to your childish vandalism never loses it’s thrill.

All the bonus levels are designed to look like they’re being played on a gameboy, puke green colour scheme and all.

Moving onto the presentation things are very evocative of that show Adventure Time but there’s something of a bit more substance underneath. Characters have that very rounded look that the AT characters have but there is a lot more detail present in the faces. The geometry is simple in the same way AT looks but the amount of shading and detail put in definitely stands out. Most important the overall look and atmosphere rather than being that of the fairy tale kingdom scene of AT looks to be more like a long dead post apocalyptic version of AT. The music is also a major feature here as it’s a soundtrack entirely made by indie bands, despite not being a fan of that genre of music I feel that what’s here works. While I personally wouldn’t go out and buy the soundtrack I did enjoy what was there in the moment and people who are more into that scene of music should definitely look into getting the soundtrack edition.

Sure cutting out the legs of these pig statues and pushing them down a cliff is fun but what put them there in the first place?

Lastly let’s talk about the story and writing which despite a dead simple story is very well done. The story is that Tiny (you) had a pair of magic underpants left to him by his Grandfather stolen by his arch-enemy Big and must now go on a journey to reclaim them. That’s pretty much the core narrative in a nutshell, it’s simple and kind of dumb but has a clear goal and the characters are fun and they interact well with each other. Where the writing really shines though is in the game’s use of ambient story telling, the real story here has nothing to do with Tiny or Big but with the world they inhabit. You’re constantly uncovering statues of ancient gods and murals depicting a lost history that the game doesn’t necessarily shove in your face and they tell a story of a ruined world. You get just enough narrative there to know things were great and then they weren’t and you get a vague sense of the who and the why; what you don’t get is how the world got to where it is when you’re in it and what the universe overall looks like. Again in a way very similar to Portal this is a story contained in an instant but calls out to centuries. It’s a game that makes you want to learn about this world in spite of if not specifically because the game itself doesn’t tell you. It was far more depth than I was expecting and I really to hope to have more adventures in this universe.

So to sum it all up, this is an awesome game and I think you should buy it. The gameplay is fresh and interesting and you’ll have no problem playing the same level over and over again in fun new ways. The presentation is quirky but not overbearing and despite the strong indie influence this is not just a game for hipsters. The writing is weirdly deep and more engrossing than it deserves to be and you’ll end up poking at the maps of this game for days just enjoying that ambient atmosphere. This is a ten-dollar game and every cent is worth it, I would even go so far as to say this could be the next “Portal” and if you like new and exciting gameplay experiences then this needs to be in your Steam library. So for way more fun than I was expecting, Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers gets a 5 out of 5 stars.

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