Tin Hearts Review – Review

A unique take on some classic puzzling.

Tin Hearts combines a first-person narrative adventure with elements of navigation-puzzle games like Lemmings. It’s a fascinating combination that requires you to both solve puzzles on a micro level while exploring on a macro level. The result is a relaxed, though adequately challenging, game that easily sails past most of its rough spots.

Tin Hearts Review – Review

Much like Lemmings, a game the developers have specifically cited as an influence on Tin Hearts, you do not directly control any of the tiny tin soldiers. Rather they march relentlessly forward and your goal is to manipulate their path to lead them to a predetermined goal point. You do this by possessing objects found throughout the fully 3D environment. The most unique element of Tin Hearts is that it isn’t just about solving a puzzle; you need to explore the space around you and find what tools you have available. As you progress you’ll find unlockable chests that contain new abilities allowing you to possess new objects. At first you’ll control blocks with holes for a peg in them that can only be placed in specific spots. Later you’ll get blocks that can be freely rotated and placed anywhere. You’ll also gain the ability to control canons and redirect drums used as trampolines. You can even pause, fast forward, and rewind time, allowing you to quickly try things and correct them if they don’t work. Oddly, mechanics like rewinding time and walking around the room are locked for the first several stages, preventing the game from showcasing its most interesting mechanics during its first impression.

The story slowly plays out during and between levels via ghostlike characters that appear within the space. Over the course of the game you’ll get to know a toymaker and his family. I won’t go into detail on the content of the story, but it’s well executed. Characters are reasonably well animated and portrayed and are immediately interesting. While my focus was certainly on the puzzles themselves, I always stopped what I was doing to watch them unfold. The auditory presentation is also very strong with a relaxed symphonic soundtrack throughout.

Tin Hearts largely runs well, save for some very rare frame rate issues in specific stages. Even then, this is a slow-moving puzzle game, so a bit of rare slowdown didn’t affect my enjoyment in the slightest. I did, however, find that the tin soldiers could be very difficult to see when playing handheld, and would love the option to have them appear highlighted in some way. There is a zoom function, but depending on the scenario it isn’t always helpful. Possessing some objects also caused issues with losing camera control that required me to set them back down and literally come at the situation from a different angle.

Tin Hearts is a delightfully charming puzzle game, the likes of which I’ve not played in a long time. The story is effortlessly engaging and the puzzle mechanics demand you play just one more level. They’re not unfairly obtuse while also still offering a solid challenge. The opening stages don’t show the game in its best light right away, but once things get moving Tin Hearts is difficult to put down. A few minor technical and user interface issues caused some brief stumbling but rarely put a damper on my enjoyment.

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