Remember when Lemmings was all the rage? It’s hard to imagine that the studio that would go on to develop the monumentally successful Grand Theft Auto franchise made such a quaint little puzzler. Lemmings was a darn good game, spawning multiple add-ons and sequels over the years. It’s honestly a little surprising that the franchise hasn’t yet seen a (re)release on the Switch.
Enter Tin Hearts. Created by ex-Fable developers over at Rogue Sun, Tin Hearts is a heartwarming mix of environmental storytelling and Lemmings-like puzzle gameplay. Indeed, the whole premise of the game requires you to guide a troop of “mischievous tin soldiers’ through increasingly complex paths from their starting position to the end goal.
Much like Lemmings, the tin soldiers only move in a single designated direction, so it’s your job to manipulate the environment to ensure they stick to the most optimal path. This is primarily done by strategically placing triangular-shaped toy blocks in their path, thus causing them to collide with the blocks and change direction. Failure to do so may result in the soldiers plummeting off the edge of a desk and onto the floor, smashing into tiny pieces. Luckily, you also have the ability to manipulate time.
As you progress through the early stages, Tin Hearts gradually introduces new ways to alter time. First, by tapping the clocks found in each room, you can speed things up, making the wait for the toy soldiers to traipse their way to the goal a little less arduous. Later on, you’re given complete control over time remotely, so you can pause, rewind, and fast forward on the fly. Pausing is especially useful, as it allows you to view the predicted path of the toy soldiers, so you can move objects into place without worrying about the wellbeing of your ceramic buddies.
You could argue that such quality-of-life mechanics make Tin Hearts a little too easy, and yes, there are moments when you can effectively solve a puzzle within a couple of short minutes by simply pausing time and placing all of the objects in the correct locations. But actually figuring out the most efficient route is really where the true joy lies in Tin Hearts.
The game starts off fairly simple, with blocks that contain certain icons cut from their woodwork, making it easy to slot these into the right place. Later on, however, completely blank objects can be placed anywhere, so you’re given complete creative freedom in how you’re going to solve the puzzle.
That’s not all, either. The devs introduce even more new elements as you progress, including toy trains that you can move around the tracks and a delightful mechanism that attaches coloured balloons to each of your tin soldiers, letting them float over gaps safely. Heck, there are even dastardly Jack-in-the-Boxes that will gobble up your soldiers if you're not careful. Granted, your tin troops won’t dig their own tunnels or build their own stairs like Lemmings can, but that’s not really needed here. There’s plenty to sink your teeth into and some of the later puzzles will definitely have you scratching your head.
We haven’t even mentioned the presentation yet, and it’s mostly absolutely superb. As you work your way through the puzzles, the game tells the surprisingly heartfelt story of Albert J. Butterworth, a Victorian inventor. We won’t delve into exactly what goes on with the narrative, but we were nevertheless captivated. Wisely, the tale is told mostly through visions unfolding during gameplay, so you can keep your focus on solving the puzzle while keeping an eye on the characters in the background. It’s most certainly the best way this story could have been told without interrupting the flow.
That said, from a technical perspective, the game could use a few improvements, at least on Switch. The frame rate, while consistent, is unfortunately consistently choppy. While it’s certainly not a dealbreaker for a puzzle game of this nature, a smoother experience would have been welcome. Additionally, because you’re essentially ‘possessing’ an object when you go to move it, the camera shifts dramatically to communicate this, and the sudden change in perspective can oftentimes be a bit jarring. It’s not a particularly egregious issue, but definitely one to watch out for.
The biggest star of the show for us, however, is the music. It’s simply wonderful. Focusing on gentle piano tunes and whimsical melodies, the soundtrack is perfectly suited to this kind of game, and it makes the emotional beats of the story hit that much harder. We can’t fault it, quite frankly.
Tin Hearts is a lovely little puzzler that's engaging and emotional in equal measure. It takes all the right inspiration from Lemmings but manages to stand on its own two feet with a unique visual style, clever mechanics, and a wonderful narrative told effortlessly during gameplay. Technical hiccups pull it back from true greatness, including a choppy frame rate and jarring camera movements, but if you're after a relaxing puzzler that's not too taxing on the ol' noggin, then you really can't go too wrong with this.
Came here to echo the surprise about no (not Oh No) Lemmings on Switch; leaving with another game on the wishlist. Any game with good music and presentation deserves the same.
Ordered the physical as loved the demo I saw of it
Tug on this!!! That's what she said!!
Considering Lemmings is fully owned by Sony and haven't seen a console or computer release of it since the PS3 days, I'm surprised it took this long for people to take up the torch.
I loved the look of Tin Hearts when I saw it even though I'm not a big fan of Lemmings. Will be giving it a go at some point.
I've never played Lemmings (really should give it a try eventually), but I have played and enjoyed most Mario vs. Donkey Kong games that had a similar kind of gameplay so Tin Hearts intrigued me as soon as I saw it, good to hear it's overall great (and could be even better if they improved the frame rate and the camera shifts, fingers crossed it's possible), confirms that I'll eventually get it for sure!
The mention of the jack-in-the-box reminds me of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" segment from Fantasia 2000. Wouldn't be surprised if that was a source of inspiration for this game's developers.
@JohnnyMind Lemmings is.... Eh. If you want that kind of game then Krusty's Super Funhouse on the SNES is the one you want to play.
@Jey887 Will keep it in mind, thanks for the recommendation!
Very happy this turned out well.
You've put "Cons: framerate could do with a boost"... Remember you're using a Switch. We've been wanting a decent framerate since 2017
Sounds like something right up my alley, I always loved toys and trinkets!
Who’s “we”? Speak for yourself please…
@Cyrax77 "we" can be 2 people or 2 billion people. Besides, I'm sure everyone wants a better frame rate, even if it's good, who wouldn't an improvement?
Very nice, was hoping this turned out well. Love the aesthetic and glad to hear that the music is great. Definitely going on my wishlist.
Cons : The frame rate could do with a boost.
Me : Oh well, the reason I will pick Tin Hearts initially on PS5 version.
One of my friends worked on this game, happy to see it review well.
I can't believe that I didn't know that Lemmings, one of my absolute childhood favorites, was made by the same people who made GTA, a series in which I have absolutely no interest.
Tap here to load 18 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...