For many gamers, smaller and cheaper titles mean lower quality. This perception is an unfortunate one because some of the best games this generation have come in the form of smaller and cheaper products. Titles like Amnesia, Bastion and Limbo have provided some of my most memorable gaming experiences over the past few years and stand toe to toe with the big guns like Assassin’s Creed, Bioshock and Halo. It is because of this fact that I gave Tiny & Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers a shot and thankfully I was not disappointed.
Tiny & Big is a 3D puzzle platformer, set in a quirky desert world with gigantic temples. Controlling Tiny, players set out on a quest to track down Big, a mean spirited bully, who has stolen Tiny’s inheritance, his Grandpa’s underwear. Outside of a few boss encounters with Big, the game forgoes combat, instead relying on traversal of the environment through platforming. While that may sound pretty standard for the genre, the twist with Tiny & Big though is that the environment cannot be easily traversed through normal means, hence puzzle platformer.
Tiny will be hampered in his quest to track down Big by a variety of environmental puzzles that must be solved by utilizing his small arsenal of very powerful tools. Tiny’s laser can cut through nearly any surface. His powered grapple cable can grip any object and allow Tiny to pull it into position. And his rockets can attach to large objects to be propelled away from Tiny. These tools grant Tiny the power to deform just about every piece of the environment, which can make them both useful and potentially dangerous.
Figuring out the environmental puzzles is equal parts being able to visualize spatially what needs to be done and then being precise in your cuts and movements. There were multiple times in the game where I got a little over-zealous with my laser usage that I cut through objects that directly led to Tiny’s death. Additionally, more than once I accidently over-cut rendering the forward path impossible to reach. Like many platformers, Tiny & Big features a lot of trial and error; however, unlike many games where such gameplay mechanics feel cheap and become tiresome, I never felt that way with this game. In many ways the figuring out the puzzles in Tiny & Big gave me a lot of the same feelings as I got while playing the original Portal, and that certainly is not a bad thing.
Working off of the solid gameplay underpinnings, Tiny & Big has a lot of charm to it as well. The story, dialog, music and visual style are all quirky and fun, making it a pleasure to play. And while many games, especially bigger ones, tend to overstuff themselves, making their players do the same actions over and over for hours, Tiny & Big knows when to get out and call it a day. My initial playthrough took me just under three hours and the entire time I was introduced to new puzzles and thus never felt like I was just rinsing and repeating.
Not everything about Tiny & Big is charming and wonderful though. During that initial three hour playthrough, I ran into a fair share of game breaking bugs that required me to either reload the level or boot all the way back to my desktop and re-launch the game. Additionally, there were some goofy animations and clipping that made the game look less than polished. The death animations when falling off a large cliff face were especially cringe worthy as Tiny would hit an invisible floor, resulting in some momentary seizure inducing visuals. For the most part though, these glitches and bugs do not detract from the overall enjoyment the game offers. Developer Black Pants Studios should be proud of what they’ve accomplished and hopefully we will get more adventures from this studio in the future.
- Exudes charm
- Smart environmental puzzle design
- Knows when to cut and run
- Bugs and glitches give it an unpolished feel.
4 / 5