Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Download of the Week: The Tiny Bang Story

Apocalyptic events are nothing new in games and indie developers seem to be all for destroying worlds at the moment. Bastion and From Dust both have players adventuring to bring order back to world's of chaos and so to does this charming little puzzler from Colibrigames. In the opening moments of The Tiny Bang Story you are privy to a world shattering event as an asteroid blows the tiny planet apart, separating it into dozens of puzzle pieces that get strewn across the world. You, then, are tasked with bringing order back to the chaos and must collect the puzzle pieces from each of the five levels whilst simultaneously solving puzzles that will allow you to progress to the next stage. Upon completing a level you then have to reassemble the world by correctly inserting the puzzle pieces like a giant astronomical jigsaw puzzle. It's quite a neat reward since you gradually see colour coming back to the world and are usually rebuilding the sections that you just played through.


The Tiny Bang Story is and of itself a point and click puzzler and observation game. It has echoes of both Big Fish Game's popular Mystery Case Files series' and Amanita Design's beautiful Machinarium. In fact I was reminded of Machinarium throughout due in no small part to the beautiful, hand drawn visuals. There are also echoes of life in each of the areas you visit, with flys which serve to help you fill your hint meter and people who react when you click on them and speak to you via drawings in speech bubbles. The immersion is also helped by certain items in the world, such as cables and curtains reacting to your cursor as you move over them.

The puzzles themselves vary and increase in difficulty as the game progresses. Often players are tasked initially with finding pieces hidden throughout the level which will in some way allow you to then solve a particular puzzle. For example before you can solve a standard "divert the steam through the pipes" puzzle you must first find the four valves which are hidden somewhere in the world. This can be quite a challenge in itself since, due to the hand drawn visuals, it can feel as though a piece of scenery exists solely to make it more difficult to see the item hidden infront or behind it. Generally items are easy to spot or have that self gratifying nature when you suddenly see it after starting at the same screen for a few minutes. However, every now and then it can become quite frustrating, especially when there is one piece left to find and you are unable to do any of the other puzzles since the current one needs to be completed first. However, as mentioned, there is a hint system which is utilised by means of collecting flies. Once you collect enough you can call on a special fly which will fly in a circle around an area of interest. It's a nice touch and the flies are in abundance, though it does take some time to fill the meter from empty. However, it isn't much of a deterrent from asking for hints and I found myself at times taking a few minutes to get a hint just because I was fed up of searching for one illusive item. Another niggling issue is that sometimes the soundtrack can get very repetitive. It's pretty good for the most part and sets the tone and the mood quite well, but when you are already frustrated from searching for something or struggling to come up with a solution to one of the more vexing puzzles it can start to grate.




The nature of the puzzles means there is quite a bit variety in playing: you could be searching for items one minute, solving a puzzle the next or rebuilding a particular item in the world by following some instructions and dragging and dropping parts to the right section. In a similar vein to the Professor Layton series these different puzzles helps to keep the game feeling fresh.

In short, The Tiny Bang Story is what a videogame should be, something you can relax with and waste a few hours on. You can play it in your lunch hour, at home on the couch with a cup of tea or even laying in bed. It's a beautiful little game and one that you will want to see through to the end.

The Tiny Bang Story is available from Steam for £6.99 or as a free demo from Colibrigames.

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