The Nintendo Switch and games designed for mobile devices and casual PC gamers go hand in hand, the touch screen coupled with the portability and family-friendly reputation is one which many developers have used to their advantage. A game which I’ve been playing over the last few weeks was actually one of the first games I ever bought for my iPad (not including the F2P hidden object games), The Tiny Bang Story from developer Colibri Games and publisher Ellada Games.
Whether you’re an avid fan of puzzle games, like keeping your brain active when you have a few minutes to spare, or simply love trying out new games in the hopes you may find something you’d never thought of looking at before, The Tiny Bang story is sure to surprise, excite and entertain you. So, let’s take a look at just why this cutesy puzzle game occupied every spare second of my time over the last few weeks…
Don’t you just hate it when you’re quietly enjoying life, minding your own business, only to find a meteor heading straight for your planet at blistering speeds! However, instead of a catastrophic event, causing everyone upon the planet to become extinct just like the dinosaurs, the world simply broke apart into a number of pieces, pieces you must now set out to find in order to rebuild and restore life to the land.
If you enjoy puzzles, brainteasers, hidden object games, logic puzzles, or just winding down at the end of a day with something you can casually work your way through, you’re going to simply adore The Tiny Bang Story. As you move from screen to screen, you’ll encounter speechless inhabitants who’ll help you on your journey, a whole host of unique and satisfying puzzles to overcome, colourful and attractive environments, and an enchanting soundtrack that will immerse you into the world.
Right out of the gate, if you’ve ever played Artifex Mundi’s My Brother Rabbit, you’re going to spot a lot of similarities within this game. It may not have directly been inspired by The Tiny Bang Story, but considering this game came out seven years ago, there will have been many games that have been inspired by this games’ style. Not only has the format been imitated over the years, but it’s also achieved over 163,000 concurrent users playing it at once over on Steam (based on SteamCharts.com) – clearly this is a game which many people have fallen in love with over the years. So, let’s take a closer look at what the game actually is…
As I mentioned above, The Tiny Bang Story plays a lot like the much more recent My Brother Rabbit. The game has been split into five areas, each consisting of a number of scenes for you to explore as a character-less being. Via using either the Joy-con or the touch-screen, you must click away as you seek out numerous hidden jigsaw pieces which have been fiendishly camouflaged into the background akin to a hidden object game, only spread across the entire world instead of a single area. However, just like My Brother Rabbit, you’ll unlock new ‘treasure hunts’ to embark upon as you discover new obstacles which are in your way.
For example, in the first area, your main objective is to not only find all the hidden jigsaw pieces, but you also need to access other areas and then activate the train. However, you can’t go to the top of the building as there is no ladder. So, upon clicking it, you’re now tasked with finding the remaining rungs so you can construct a new ladder. Now, as you look around, you’ll begin to see pieces hidden in plain sight, pieces you may not have noticed before the game asked you to find them. If you manage to pick them all up, drag them onto the section which requires them and you’ll gain access to a new room/area.
The game follows this pattern, presenting you with more and more treasure hunts as the game progresses, broken up with interesting and unique puzzles every now and again. once you’ve finally found all of the jigsaw pieces, solved all the puzzles, and collected and used all the hidden items, the game presents you with a glorious pastime that isn’t as popular as it should be – a jigsaw puzzle utilising the pieces you’ve found! However, it’s not just any old jigsaw puzzle, the pieces you find and put back together are actually the next area of the world. Once completed, you move onto the exciting new location to rinse and repeat with new puzzles and objects to find.
So, what are the puzzles like? Are they good or are they pants? Well, I really enjoyed them. Sure, a lot of them are ones we’ve seen before, only with a new aesthetic and presented differently – such as the infamous pipes game, fitting shapes into a box, jigsaws, sliding puzzles, and finding items around the screen to build something. However, they all kept me entertained and a few even had me scratching my head a few times. With the exception of the building puzzles, all the others are unique and varied enough that you’ll never feel bored or like you’re simply doing the same thing over and over.
Even seeking the parts to each environmental puzzle is fun because it forces you to click on everything in order to open doors, move windows, pull levers, and look behind things.
As I said previously, the world has a few silent inhabitants who are there to help you, one per area. They communicate via the ancient art of ‘Pictionary’, they have speech bubbles with small doodles of what they’re trying to say – making it universal in language. Their main job is to advise you how to obtain certain pieces for the environmental puzzles, pieces which usually involves you having to solve another puzzle in order to obtain them.
Also, the puzzles aren’t to difficult, as you will have seen most of the concepts before if you like puzzle games, but if you do find them tricky, there’s a hint option you can use at any time in order to get a visual clue (again, negating language). Similarly, if you’ve looked on every screen and you just can’t find any of the missing pieces of the world or the parts you need to fix/build something, you can use a hint in order to have the game show you an item you’ve missed on the screen. Although hints in a puzzle are free, the ones to find an object aren’t. In order to get a hint, you need to manually click or tap on a number of flys that appear on the screen. So, it’s technically free but it takes a while to tap enough to get a single hint.
Who is this for?
Everyone. Old, young, male, female, English, Welsh… The puzzles are all at a level which anyone can jump in and give them a go, there’s no language barrier, the artwork is simply divine in both portable and docked mode, and the controls are about as simple as they could possibly be. Just like I advised with My Brother Rabbit, this is the type of puzzle game which you can either happily play on your own when you have a free moment, maybe completing one or two puzzles at a time, or you can sit down with your family and all work together on finding the hidden items on the screen.
For me, these are the types of games that my mum loves to play with my dad. They have every single Artifex Mundi game on their PS4 and even though they are a bit different, the core concept of solving puzzles and finding items is something they enjoy doing together. I personally played this whilst my food was cooking, before bed, when adverts came on the TV, and whilst certain games I’ve been playing were loading in the background (I hate load times!).
Although it looks like quite a small game, even the title “The Tiny Bang Story” implies it, I think it took me around five-six hours to fully complete it. Speaking of, once you have completed the game, you have the option to play any of the main puzzles again at your pleasure, but if you want to play the game again from the start you’ll have to either delete your save file or log into the game as a new user – I couldn’t find any option within the game to either reset progress or restart the game.
The Tiny Bang Story looks really nice for what it is, a hand-drawn puzzle adventure game. The only downside, which isn’t really the games fault, is that the original artwork was drawn in a 4:3 ratio. This results in the game having a border around the left and right of the play area, rather than filling out the full 16:9 screen. This is something that always affects games that were hand-drawn and require you to see the entire screen at once, nothing can be done unless they had got in artists to expand the play area and add ‘fluff’ to the sides. However, that wouldn’t have been any different than the approach of showing a picture frame as they do now.
I really enjoyed the music within the game, it’s calm, relaxing and helps you concentrate when/if you have to. The one complaint, which isn’t really a complaint, is the noise of the flies. As I had to ask for a few hints, when I couldn’t find the various jigsaw pieces and other parts to the puzzles, this required me to swat a large number of flies. Their high-pitched whine as you slap them can easily become a little irritating after a while. However, a simple adjustment of the audio and they soon shut up – but, there are no audio settings so I had to turn all the audio off. It would be nice if there was a sound effects toggle/slider.
In regards to performance, I imagine you’d probably think a game like this would run perfectly on the Switch. Well, if you did, you’d be correct. I did have a strange issue with one of the post-game puzzles, it was crashing the game over and over. However, I think there’s been a patch for that as it no longer crashes (It’s impossible to know if the Switch downloads a patch unless you see it as it’s doing it).
I have a lot of nostalgic memories of The Tiny Bang Story, all of which were magically revived by playing through the game once more on the Switch. There’s something very relaxing and addictive about this type of game, visually making progress as you move from screen to screen, yet also feeling satisfied and like you’ve accomplished something every time you complete a puzzle. The port from PC to Mobile devices to the Switch hasn’t degraded or compromised the quality in any way, it looks and feels like you’re playing through a children’s storybook (which has a lot of flies floating around it). The game itself is also very cheap, well worth it for the five or so hours of entertainment you’ll get.
If you’ve played My Brother Rabbit or any other Artifex Mundi title, you should give The Tiny Bang Story a try. It’s very similar in concept but it came first and offers a bunch of new puzzle types and its own beautiful aesthetics.