Tiny is a goofy young boy on an adventure to retrieve his grandfather’s stolen underpants. Big is the goofy young boy who stole those underpants. Big is smaller than Tiny, and the lore surrounding the aforementioned stolen underpants is bigger than either of the two goofy boys. But most importantly, Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is a platforming game with a huge heart and some of the most entertaining mechanics of any title released this year.
Tiny is the protagonist of this outlandish adventure, and he has access to a set of tools to help him traverse the beautiful, enormous environments Big leads him through. The first, and most vital tool, is the laser. The laser can cut through virtually every object in the game, from the smallest cactus to the largest pyramid. Next is the hook, which is used to grab the sliced objects and pull them around to help Tiny progress. Finally, there are the rockets, of which Tiny seems to have an unlimited amount, and can make any reasonably sized stone or pillar go flying off into the stratosphere.
First and foremost, Tiny and Big is a platformer. Tiny’s mission is always to either ascend a large structure, or descend into deep depths, using his tools to carve a path. Trial and error is tantamount to finding a way through the perils of the environment, and the game rewards creative thinking and a complete lack of precaution.
Players will often find themselves confronted with obstacles that may appear simple at first: on the opposite side of a chasm too large to jump over sits a pillar – laser it at its base, then grapple it down to serve as a bridge. But what if Tiny’s laser cuts at the wrong angle, or the pillar lands in a wonky position and lurches into the bottomless pit? Sometimes an error can require a reset, but there is almost always some other way.
This is where the two to three hour game becomes an almost limitlessly replayable sandbox. When Tiny and Big closes one door, it usually opens a window. When that convenient pillar falls at the wrong angle, Tiny can just turn to the wall and cut out a chunk half the size of the level. Careful maneuvering and layered slicing can get players out of any bind.
The main objective for every level is to chase Big and reach the end. Playing the game with no other goal in mind but to finish will likely leave most players underwhelmed, but causing mayhem in the environment can lead to hours of experimental fun. Every level has hidden secrets and collectibles that require a little exploration and a lot of annihilation.
None of this would work quite so perfectly if not for the enormity of every level. The first level serves as an introduction to the tools and and how Tiny moves around the world. Playing through without finding the extra goodies, this level can be completed in less than five minutes. Finding the cave tucked away in the mountain can take nearly half an hour though, depending on the player’s slicing skills and luck.
The lack of restriction is one of the game’s greatest strengths, but it can lead to some frustrating accidents as well. The physics engine is very precise, and the objects are very large, so pulling a giant pillar in Tiny’s direction is always a risky prospect. Not being careful or simply being unlucky will lead to many crushing defeats.
Also, this is a computer game, but the controls on the keyboard never felt exact enough. Countless deaths came from a misstep off a cliff or a long, thin pillar rather than a bad decision or carelessness. Checkpoints are relatively arbitrary as well – some would be placed right after difficult sections, while others would take far too long to reach.
Physics and control issues aside, it is hard not to recommend Tiny and Big. This is a bite-size downloadable title with kinks that need working out, but the freedom in both exploring and destroying is a breath of fresh air for anyone tired of linear titles. Most excitingly, this is only the first episode, so hopefully Black Pants Game Studio will polish off the last few rough edges and give us a sequel that trumps the first adventure.
Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers is available now for PC, Mac, and Linux.
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