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Tin Man Can Review

By Dave Flodine, on January 24, 2013


Tin Man Can
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Really appealing backgrounds with great use of color.
  • Controls are pretty responsive.
  • IAP unobtrusive.

CONS

  • Terrible sense of level design.

VERDICT

Tin Man Can has simple controls and great presentation but its gameplay revolves around trial and error, and avoiding all the fun little elements put into the game.


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There's something to be said for 'trial & error' gameplay done right. Games like Limbo and Another World are good examples. The player learns not to do something by being killed for their curiosity or their lack of reflex, but the checkpoint system of the game is lenient enough to allow the player to safely pursue their natural curiosity and exploratory drive.

It's a nice balance, and one that Tin Man Can misses completely. Not only because every death sends you back to the start of the level, but thanks to the way the game is designed, all the fun little jump pads (and other inclusions to help spice up the play) have to be avoided. It's as though have been placed with little regard to the basic flow through the game space itself.

You play Tic the hoverbot who has been swept into a wormhole onto an alien world. Each stage is about trying to reach the safe-haven of the ending while collecting as many fuel cells and batteries as possible to allow your craft to leave.

As a hoverbot, Tic can hover for short periods of time. This is done by tapping and holding on the screen. Tic will fly into the air until his power is depleted, which happens quite quickly. Recharge will occur either by collecting a fuel cell, or spending enough time rolling on the ground to refill the meter. Like Rayman Jungle Run and its trail of lums, the levels are laid out to follow the trail of fuel cells - though this only seems to work in theory.

The signs of frustration start off as a low-rumble of annoyance. The batteries are the three star equivalent in this game, and the first few levels will show that you have to kind of leave the beaten path to collect these. The problem is, this style of 'we tricked you' gameplay permeates every new addition to the levels. You start learning not to trust the developers at all, as any jump-pads will either be improperly placed as to make their inclusion useless, or they will actively try to kill you. In the last few levels of the first world, it was often easier to use the hover mechanic to avoid everything except the fuel cells on the way to the goal. There really is no other way to put it. It feels like whoever designed these levels had contempt for the people who would be playing them.

And we haven't even touched on the badges you get for completing the level under a certain time. Yes, apparently speedy completion is something the game has in mind (and this is reinforced through fuel cells making Tic move faster. It's gradual, but it's there). This makes the haphazard placement of jump pads and hover trails even worse, because there should be a flow to the levels - an ideal perfect path that rewards you with a badge - but instead you earn these badges despite the game and despite the level layout.

... And yet the backgrounds are gorgeous to look at and the music is appealing. It's just unfortunate the game is an exercise in frustration to play; too many ideas that were not refined enough. This is trial and error gameplay where we found the best way forward was to use the game's mechanics to skip everything thrown at us, and that's not how you should want your game to be played.

Screenshots

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