Tinykin Review - Screenshot 1 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Splashteam, developer of the humourous 2D platformer Splasher, is back again but with a different cast of curious creatures in its newest project, Tinykin. It's an imaginative and very pleasant 3D platformer that challenges you to think outside the box and find a new purpose in everyday objects — especially since they'll be the only thing to help you escape the '90s house you've found yourself in. But it's okay, you're not alone; Tinykin is filled to the brim with intriguing NPCs to guide the way.

You take on the role of Milodane, an explorer and astronaut who finds himself in a cluttered house on planet Earth, but this house has an unusual atmosphere, and there are no humans. Instead, each room is infested with an array of talkative insects who quickly request Milo's help for the rewards of something we see as a mundane household object, but to Milo, they are the key to repairing his ship and finally heading home.

Yes, it does sound an awful lot like Pikmin X Chibi-Robo, and — as you might expect — Milodane can't take on the adventure alone. Alongside recruiting the help of a wise elder, Ridmi, Milo has to rely on NPCs and a peculiar species called Tinykin to get to where he needs to be. Eventually, each creature Milo meets helps him locate the parts he needs to repair his ship and return to his home planet.

Tinykin Review - Screenshot 2 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

So, like Pikmin, Tinykin are small, friendly creatures that Milodane relies on to make progress. Unlike Pikmin, they can be found residing in coloured eggs around each room or trapped in crates and crying for help, which adds to an addictive 'collector' gameplay element.

There are five types of Tinykin, all different colours and all adopting a unique quirk that comes in handy in one way or another. While blue 'kin help create electricity links, green ones can build a ladder to reach high places. Collecting as many as possible in each area is essential to ensure you aren't caught short when you need them most. To make matters straightforward, the game automatically applies the best-suited Tinykin for any selected task, whether you're building a bridge between two platforms or moving a heavy object. These cutesy critters can be used as and when Milodane pleases and follow him around the map without needing any babysitting.

Although the game immediately presents a lot of Pikmin-like traits, there are several differences which make it more than a carbon copy. Tinykin are much more scarce, for example. Each level will produce enough to comfortably support Milodane through the adventure, but there won't be any excess to throw around. Additionally, since there's no combat, there's no need to sacrifice any Tinykin — good news for those among us that felt terrible guilt over every lost Pikmin. Tinykin are exclusively used to progress through each area using environmental problem-solving rather than brute force battles against marauding bugs.

Tinykin Review - Screenshot 3 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Each time Milodane meets a new sub-species of Tinykin, a cartoonish animated cutscene briefly introduces the creature's ability. Rather than maintaining the 3D appearance, these animations mirror the 2D style of Milodane and the Tinykin and serve as remarkably refreshing tutorials compared to bombarding you with textboxes, and if the animation didn't make it clear, there's always hands-on practice available with the Tinykin not far from where you first met.

One downside to the combination of 3D levels and a 2D protagonist is an issue with depth perception. It's hard to judge where Milodane will land after a significant jump, sometimes sending him falling to the bottom of a map. It becomes easier over time, however, to select a suitable camera angle to avoid perilous leaps of faith and guarantee a safe landing.

Beyond that minor issue, the 3D platforming here feels exceptionally solid. Control-wise, some players may have an issue with jump being on 'A' if they're used to 'B' but, like a few mechanics in Tinykin, an hour or so in and it's second nature. Outside of remembering how to jump, the game doesn't require much learning to pick up and get stuck in. Before you know it, you'll be surfing around on a soap bar and throwing Tinykin left, right, and center.

Tinykin Review - Screenshot 4 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Gameplay is predominantly stress-free, and unlike Pikmin, there's no day and night cycle to limit your adventure, and no major antagonists or threats to Milodane's health besides falling from a high space — and even then he respawns on the ledge he fell from after a few seconds. There's no frustration or tension to take away from exploration here. The only minor inconvenience you'll encounter is a lack of the specific Tinykin you need, but a few cycles around the map will solve that. Simplicity is part of the game's stress-free vibe and doesn't feel detrimental and boring.

Perhaps the most compelling element, if collectables are your thing, is the mountain of goodies it presents from the get-go. Even after completing the six-ish-hour central campaign, there's more than enough pollen to collect and side quests to complete to keep you occupied for a few additional hours. For a perfectionist, Tinykin presents around ten hours' worth of collecting and quest competition alongside the story. The central hub where Milodane repairs the ship makes entering each room incredibly simple, so there's always a chance to dash between areas to mop up this and that when you finally have the necessary upgrades.

While the creature-tossing element and overall premise give the game an undeniably Pikmin-like feel, Splashteam has created enough differences to give Tinykin its own charming personality. Nintendo's series involves resource management and some proper Real Time Strategy in a way Tinykin doesn't bother with. What Splashteam offers here is a stress-free and very pleasant platforming experience which is very welcome indeed.

Conclusion

As a whole, Tinykin is more than just a wholesome, stress-free 3D platformer or 'Pikmin Lite'; it's a lesson in appreciating the simple things in life, including the help from those around you. Even with a mass of collectables and a free-flowing storyline to follow, Tinykin never feels cluttered or overwhelming. Despite feeling a lot like a certain Nintendo series when you first pick it up, the game has enough of a unique identity to separate itself from the pack, offering a pleasant, pure platforming spin on Pikmin.