PREVIEW: Tinkertown

Jan
12

PREVIEW: Tinkertown

A charming survival adventure title that’s deep in Early Access, Tinkertown is an entertaining enough resource collection and crafting experience at the moment but has little else to offer.

Released: Steam
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Genre: Survival, RPG
Developer: Headup
Publisher: Headup
Release date: 03 Dec, 2020

Overview

Few would argue that the survival genre isn’t packed full of garbage that needs to be sifted through to find the shining gems buried deep. For every ARK: Survival Evolved, 7 Days to Die, or Terraria there are twenty other titles that are unfinished wastes of time that will never reach anything even close to an entertaining diversion. That said, I’ve found that it’s worth it to take the risk and dive in as the skillfully crafted games that you’ll discover are worth the lost hours, especially if you have a handful of friends to go on the adventures with you.

Tinkertown is my most recent foray into the garbage pile and it’s showing some promise though it’s not quite there yet.

Sticks and Stones and Bones

Tinkertown breaks away from the general mold of popular survival titles and offers an experience that’s from a 2D top-down point-of-view. Outside of that, veterans of the genre will find that it has plenty of similarities to those that we’ve played in the past. As a matter of fact, although it’s a pleasant enough experience, most of what’s currently available to us is a little too familiar without much in the way of innovation.

Grinding resources is the name of the game here, though that’s the norm in survival and it’s done well enough that I can’t complain. You’ll start off swatting at trees and rocks to get wood and stone and soon you’ll have a few low-tier tools to speed things along. These tiers travel the familiar route of wood to stone to copper and so on, and each upgrade leads to more productive gathering, not only in speed but in the number of resources collected from each node before it’s depleted. A significant amount of time is spent doing this, so if everything continues down this path to the full release, be prepared for the grind.

Nasty little goblins will likely be the first foe that gets purged on your quest for peaceful and quiet.

The crafting system is a familiar setup with some basic tools being craftable straight from your inventory while others will require that you construct work stations. Soon you’ll have your own workbench, anvil, furnace, and so forth up which will allow you to piece together weapons, armor, tools, and building materials from the resources that you’ve collected. Again, the crafting paths are predictable if you’ve played other survival titles, but I’m liking what I see so far with a few outliers, particularly in the building category. The group that I play this type of game with tends to focus on building and there are already plenty of themes to choose from, the only requirement is that you either find the resources needed to unlock the recipe or find the structure piece itself somewhere else. A great foundation seems to be in place for builders, though it still has a way to go to convince me to build here rather than somewhere else.

This oasis and those sandstone walls would make for a cozy little residence.

Exploration is key here as you’ll need to leave your residence often to collect resources, especially if they aren’t native to your biome. Monsters prowl the wilds and although some of them can pack a serious punch, the action-RPG combat makes it so that you can take on just about anything once you get the timing down. Weapons and armor simply make it so that you’re not punished as harshly for taking the wrong step and getting smacked around by that nasty mummy. Neither of these features are weak by any means, but I’d like to see significantly more depth to world generation and combat so that it’s more exciting to explore the world and dive into its dungeons. You’ll experience deja vu as you travel the land and combat can start to feel stale fairly quickly.

The boundaries between biomes look awkward, particularly when it feels odd that they even share a border.

The Path Forward

There’s certainly plenty of room for Tinkertown to grow, though the Early Access roadmap that’s been provided for us has me optimistic. The feature that I’m looking forward to the most is being able to build a town from the ground up with your friends and populate it with NPC residents. I absolutely loved it when Terraria dipped into this years ago and enjoyed it even more when Starbound threw something similar together and removed the restrictions. I’m hoping this concept reaches its full potential as it would seal me in for spending a lot more time in its procedurally generated worlds.

The procedurally-generated worlds are light on landmarks, though there are some sprinkled about that offer some variety.

Other future updates that have caught my eye include the enhancement of character classes and their impact, added depth to dungeons and the dangerous encounter within, and further expansion of housing and its related systems. This remodeling could bring Tinkertown from an entertaining short-term diversion to a more memorable and entertaining title if given the proper attention.

There’s already a solid foundation for those who are looking for their next great building adventure.

Verdict

Tinkertown shows a lot of promise, though its Early Access state is incredibly clear within even the first hour of playing it. The procedurally-generated worlds tend to be fairly bland with only a small handful of biomes and few locations and landmarks that make anything stand out. Combat is reminiscent of old-school action RPGs and might be a nice way to revisit the nostalgia of the classics, though it’s unlikely to rivet anyone to their seat in 2021. Building elements are coming along nicely, though you can never have enough themes and pieces, and we won’t know the true potential of this system until we’re able to build and populate settlements of our own.

When push comes to shove, I’m optimistic for the future of Tinkertown and I’m really into the vision that Headup has for its future. All too often we see survival projects fall to the wayside entirely unfinished and only representing a shadow of what could have been and I certainly hope that we won’t see an underdeveloped title thrown to the wind when there seems to be so much potential for it to be fantastic in the long run.

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