Amidst the plethora of games that release these days on a weekly basis there’s a lot of things that fall through the cracks. Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers definitely feels like one of those games. Its a shame, because it has that perfect blend of fun gameplay, wacky artstyle and innovation. Psychonauts comes to mind.
What makes Tiny and Big distinct and different from most other platforming games, however, is a cutting tool with a slick physics engine.
Most of the game will revolve around your character, Tiny, cutting up big stones and pushing or pulling them away to create new pathways. Often the game puts suspended beams in-between large chasms. Slicing the beam from the ceiling creates an impromptu bridge. Also included in your tool-set is a towline that lets you pull large objects away and a portable rocket launcher that attaches to objects and lets you push them from a distance. The rocket that attaches also packs quite a punch, so tiny objects will go flying pretty quickly.
After you’ve made a few bridges and cut some rocks to clear your pathway though, the game seems to run out of ideas. There were a few “move this object into the right space” parts toward the end of the game, but not a lot of it felt like the game was really using its full potential. I mean, you have a laser that can cut anything in half, surely there’s some better puzzle ideas out there that can use this. Maybe the problem is that the laser is too powerful. When fighting Big, the game’s antagonist, toward the middle of the game I found it very easy to just keep slicing though and destroying every platform he stood on. After I realized I could even slice through multiple objects at once, it seemed like a lot of the challenge, as much as the game tried, just wasn’t there.
Tiny & Big doesn’t try to be a sandbox game, which I found a little odd considering the premise, but it still works well as a platformer. Sure, jumping is a little akward and caused me a few more deaths than I was hoping for, but there’s still a unique challenge to the concept of the game. The game’s main MO is “cut and climb”, which it executes very effectively. As I mentioned, that laser is pretty damn powerful and can pretty much cut through anything, so getting to the top of that sheer cliff seems a little less impossible. Its not the same sort of awe and wonder of creating your own path that Terraria gives you, but it still works.
Overall I enjoyed it and I have to admit its a great game to play on a lazy Saturday. It can be beaten in probably 2 to 3 hours if you’re not looking for many collectables. If you are looking though, just imagine that since this game lets you cut through nearly anything, there’s going to be a significant amount of secret locations to find (I found a few myself almost by mistake). There’s also some fun detour routes to take through levels because of the unique mechanics. Its not quite Banjo-Kazooie-level collecting, but it defnitely tries to give you some bang for your buck on that end. I had to admit I was pretty shocked by how short the game was overall, but it might have been for the better. Without any significant variations to the “cut and climb” gameplay I think things would have gotten tired around the 3 to 4 hour mark. At this short time, though, it always felt like things were moving at the right pace and with a pinch of difficulty to keep it interesting.
Come for the gameplay, stay for the art style, leave for the early closing credits. I do question the $10 price-tag, especially since this is being billed as an episodic game, but it is what it is. I do think that if we turned Black Pants over to a major studio and gave them a great deal of money, we would see some real Tim Schafer-level stuff come out.
You can find Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers for $9.99 on Steam or GoG. There is also a special soundtrack edition, which I highly recommend. The music in this game was exceptional, but you’ll need to listen to it to believe me.