Xbox Xbox Series X

Tinykin Is An Adorable Platformer That Feels Like A Cartoon



Developer: Splashteam
Publisher: tinyBuild
Release Date: August 30, 2022
Available as: Digital

Although April was four months ago, it felt like last week that I attended PAX East and try out early builds of games created by various developers. Most of the games I have featured have either long since been released, some I've reviewed already, or have plans to cover in the near future. Unfortunately, there weren't enough hours in a day or a weekend for that matter so while I was able to try out some of tinyBuild's games, I wasn't able to try all the games I wanted. Tinykin, for example, was one such game, and playing the complete version now I can see why it was praised.

Developed by Splashteam, Tinykin's success was considered cemented before the game's release due to its aesthetic and presentation. In-game cutscenes, graphics, animations, and sounds are all reminiscent of early 90s Nickelodeon cartoons. I always find it charming when developers decide to go down this path and use it to the game's advantage. I've mentioned that Young Souls took this aesthetic and was successful with it, something one of its developers confirmed to me in person.

While looking like a PBS Kids cartoon, Tinykin is a game meant for players of all ages with an easy-enough-to-follow plot. Our hero, Milo, is an archeologist from a planet known as Aegis. During his research, he discovers humans didn't originate from Aegis but from a planet in a different galaxy. Determined to find the origins of humankind, Milo makes a trip to what should be Earth after receiving "human-like readings."

Instead, Milo has turned pint-sized to find that he's inside a large house on the planet. The house seems vacant with the exception of various bugs, critters, and these round creatures known as "Tinykin." Shortly after he lands, the locals take interest in him and Milo decides to help the locals with their problems while also figuring out more information about the origins of humans.

I praised the graphics before and seeing the images does not do it enough justice. Tinykin is a cartoon-inspired game yet the environment is meant to be as realistic as possible. Since the release of Toy Story, it has always been a unique challenge to capture the feeling of being small in a familiar world. Slippers are used as slopes, xylophones are stairs, and bars of slopes can be used to glide across surfaces and grind webs. The level designs are massive with an immense sense of exploration. Each room has various levels of verticality, perfect for a platformer.

Everything looks like it can be climbed, jumped, and floated towards. What prevents the level design from being overwhelming is how everything flows. Tinykin's objects are placed in unique locations that will lead to something beneficial or a point of interest. Nothing is a "dead end" as even if you find a hidden area, there may be tinykin to collect and use for your general puzzle solving.

The tinykin are the core mechanics in solving puzzles and doing just about anything in Tinykin (I mean, it is in the title). These little guys are hatched from eggs that Milo comes across and they follow him around accordingly. Multiple tinykin serves specific purposes as the purple ones do the heavy lifting and pushing. The red ones explode as they're thrown and they aren't salvageable once used. If a purple tinykin is holding an item, they are also rendered unusable until they remove the item.

An example of using tinykin to your advantage is opening a door or a switch. Using a certain number of tinykin is required as generally the heavily the item, like a Polaroid camera, the more is needed. Players who are familiar with the Oddworld series can substitute the tinykin with the mudokons and it's a similar approach. The tinykin will follow Milo wherever he goes unless he moves into a different room, or level. In my time playing it, there was no combat and Milo can talk to the various NPCs to learn more about their world.


It's an engaging humorous dialogue that gives the world a personality it didn't need to be given. As an example, there's a side quest where Milo talks to these two bugs. One of the bugs is terrified upon seeing an apparent monster, something the other bug has lost patience with his friend about. After some platforming and moving around thanks to your tinykin friends, it's revealed that the "monster" is a cute dragon plush. As thanks, you're given a collectable that acts as one of the game's side stories.

Overall Tinykin feels like a classic 3D 90s platformer in that there's a lot of personality and life in the levels themselves. They remind me of the original Spyro the Dragon in that the levels are as big as certain hub-worlds themselves, each with their own NPCs to interact with. While this will be a game I intend to dive deeper into once the queue lets up, Tinykin is shaping up to be one of the best indie games in 2022. No exaggeration.


Tinykin is available on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S.

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