Tiny and Big are brothers. Their grandfather is dead.
Grandpa owned a special pair of underpants that, once donned on an individual's head, granted unlimited power and a cult following.
Tiny deserved his Grandpa's leftover underpants, Big stole them.
Tiny & Big: Grandpa's Leftovers is the first episode in a new series from a small team in Germany named Black Pants Game Studio. I discovered it by accident. I was browsing the Steam store and randomly clicked my way into a page of trailers and screenshots for the game. It was releasing this week, and I liked what I saw.
I dropped the team in Germany a note. They responded with a download code and the pack of assets accompanying this review.
Slice, dice, rocket and pull.
In Tiny & Big, players take control of Tiny. Tiny is some sort of gadget creator, and he's constantly accompanied by the witty and ever-chatting Radio. The pair work together to solve puzzles and progress through each level in order to find Big and steal back the precious pants.
Tiny's gadgets include a laser for slicing, a grappling hook for pulling and a sticky rocket gun for…science.
Each level requires players to use all three gadgets in tandem in order to progress. For instance, you might approach a section of bridge with a large gap in the center. Rather than being able to clear it with a jump, you'll need to use your laser to slice a pillar in half. From there, you'll use the grappling hook to pull it into position.
The entire game is filled with moments like those, and it's kept fresh because of its open nature. Each level is more sandbox than it is linear. That means puzzles can be solved in a whole variety of ways.
Unfortunately, the game is very easy to screw up. You might use your laser incorrectly and ruin any chance you have at climbing a platform. Given the design of the game, that happens a lot. Prepare for tons of physics-based trial and error.
Some production value is lost in translation.
Underpants are called pants, grammar is inconsistent and the tone is shockingly formal for the sense of humor each line contains. This game feels like it would be much more enjoyable in its native language; it's made by a group of German developers, afterall.
To knock the product down for not being perfectly translated to English would be a little foolish; however, recognize that your playthrough will be snagged and tripped up by moments of language fumbling. That kind of flaw enunciates the budget of an indie game.
My call? Give it a shot.
What's going to lure you into fun here stems from four basic aspects of this game's design: its humor, its art style, its puzzles and its music. Each are brilliant strokes of creation. The puzzle design is great, as I mentioned above, but the rest?
This soundtrack is absurdly cool. It's the type of in-game music that you would actually time to listen to in the real world. Its comprised of real music that artists gave up for free; they make money off of soundtracks sold, however.
The game is genuinely funny, as well. Sure, the underpants gag is a little too low brow to actually be worth a chuckle, but the rest of the jokes and subtle digs within are actually good ones. The sound effects, the easter eggs and the tutorial (which looks like a classic Game Boy game done in 3D) are all strong.
Finally, the art style is what made me initially sit up and take notice. I would have never found Tiny & Big were it styled like every other game on the market. It's unique, and that translates to almost every aspect.
Keep in mind, this is a short ride. It's affordable, but it's short. Easter eggs and collectibles might extend your experience, but the whole thing can be tackled in around three to four hours. But, there's always the fact that this is simply episode one. There's more Tiny & Big to come.
We received a review copy of Tiny & Big: Grandpa's Leftovers for the PC on the game's release day. We played the title to completion and revisited a few stages before starting this review.