By Marty Mulrooney
The Tiny Bang Story is a point-and-click hidden object/puzzle game created by Russian indie developers Colibri Games. At the beginning of the game Tiny Planet – literally a tiny little planet – explodes into a large collection of jigsaw pieces after being struck by a meteor. It is up to the player to retrieve these pieces as they solve puzzles, collect objects and help to rebuild Tiny Planet piece by piece!
The story of The Tiny Bang Story is practically non-existent, but it largely gets away with its paper-thin narrative thanks to heaps of charm and its extremely gentle, laid-back nature. The game’s title screen shows the recently exploded Tiny Planet, which is split into five unique sections, or levels. Solving each level returns the player back to this screen, where they can then use the jigsaw pieces they have collected to rebuild the adjacent section and therefore unlock the next level.
Each level has a different theme and consists of several different screens. Some screens are not available right away, but soon become unlocked after solving certain challenges. Each level contains a number of puzzles, or mini-games. These are required to be completed to continue onwards, and can range from popping balloons tied to item-containing bottles, to rotating a compass, to winning an old-school side-scrolling computer game.
Elsewhere, clicking certain objects will display an icon at the right-hand side of the screen. You may click a ladder that is missing several rungs. A counter will then appear showing that you need to collect 3 rungs to rebuild the ladder. These rungs will be hidden throughout the level – for example, one could be the lid handle of a teapot. As the game progresses the player will end up looking for many different items all at once and this process takes up the majority of the gameplay.
As previously mentioned, the player will also find many jigsaw pieces scattered throughout each level. However, I soon discovered that the levels could still be completed even without collecting all of the jigsaw pieces. Upon returning to the title screen to continue rebuilding the world after finishing a level, the player is automatically rewarded with all of the necessary jigsaw pieces. This is a true shame as it essentially removes the necessity to discover all of the jigsaw pieces hidden within each level, which is surely the goal of the game in the first place!
The world itself is stunning, with the cartoon visuals looking hand-drawn and unique. The graphics bring to mind Machinarium at times, another charming indie adventure game. However, although some non-player characters are bumped into whilst playing through The Ting Bang Story, they only serve to offer vague hints via thought bubbles and never move or speak. The lack of a story is just about forgivable due to the casual nature of the game, but it still seems like a waste at times when the environments are so well drawn and rich with character. The illusion of depth is there but sadly this doesn’t hold up at all once you begin to scratch beneath the surface.
The soundtrack by Russian company Strategic Music is quite simply gorgeous, adding much to the chilled-out vibe. Although some puzzles can be frustrating, there is an in-built hint system available. Small flies buzz around each location and clicking them fills up a button at the top of the screen. Collecting 30 activates this button, allowing it to be pressed in exchange for a clue, although sadly it often just points the player in a vague direction rather than offering any real help.
I am generally not a fan of hidden object games but The Tiny Bang Story managed to win me over with its beautiful graphics, relaxing soundtrack and gentle gameplay. It may only last between 4-5 hours, but those hours are seldom frustrating, the object-finding and puzzle-solving proving surprisingly fun and addictive at times. Those who hate hidden-object games probably won’t be won over, but The Tiny Bang Story still remains one of the most relaxing and charming indie games of 2011 despite its flaws.
7.5 OUT OF 10
AMO’s review copy of The Tiny Bang Story was provided by Lace Mamba Global. The Tiny Bang Story – Collector’s Edition contains an exclusive jigsaw puzzle, a double-sided poster and a soundtrack CD and has a recommended retail price of £17.99.