Released in spring 2011 by Colibri Games, The Tiny Bang Story opens with a football meteorite has destroyed the planet (or at least its image) and shattered it into several pieces that you must recover throughout the course of the game.
I really enjoyed this game, but this was mainly for the elaborate search for the various puzzle pieces, and other items that are cunningly hidden. Especially later in game, the puzzle pieces would almost perfectly blend in with the scenery and required a fine-tooth comb to recover.
However, there were a couple inconsistencies in regards to the puzzle piece mechanics. While it would make sense that collecting each puzzle piece would be required to move onto the next level, and in some cases that hasn’t been my experience – perhaps because at that point I had already finished my first playthrough.
Additionally, some extra puzzle pieces can be collected in the final level without any actual effect on the game. Perhaps the creators thought that hiding several pieces would increase the probability of players finding them, especially when they are so well-camouflaged. But if so, why then make it possible to continue collecting the pieces after the quota has been reached?
For a puzzle game, there was an unfortunate lack of any puzzles that actually challenge the player.
Many of these were hit and miss, and could be easily solved with trial and error, such as the lightbulb puzzle, and balancing the suitcase weights.
The two minigames I especially disliked were these retro-inspired games within a game.
These were incredibly repetitive and dull. They really felt like cheap fillers amongst other puzzles and really detailed, interesting art.
Luckily I really enjoyed several of the puzzles, particularly those that required putting things together. While you could argue that these lego-style puzzles are as repetitive as the ones I harped on above, they continued to surprise where the mini-games are completely expected. The final piece in each was hidden in the hint image. While I should have known better the second time around, the game completely pulled the wool over my eyes and got me twice.
The Tiny Bang Story‘s soundtrack is bland, understated, and repetitive. Repetitive background music can be incredibly effective in making time pass and helping a player immerse themselves in the game. Just about every Animal Crossing game and The Sims 2 did this really well.
See the difference? Something about The Sims 2 shopping themes helps completely immerse me in my home-renovation fantasy whereas The Tiny Bang Story soundtrack grates on me so much I usually completely mute it and listen to something else.
The art style was unique, varied, and intricate, which suits the investigative aspect of the game. Also, it made me really want to live inside a teapot.
I’ve noticed that characters didn’t always fit with their environments, especially in regards to the main character who looks creepy and out of place, especially when he was younger.
Sam Nielsen from Artsammich has alleged that some character design was plagiarised from him and Kevin Keele’s previous work.
This game’s plot is largely non-existent, which is fine if, like me, you’re more interested in exploring the different levels.
Throughout each level, you watch the blonde man grow from a young child to an adult through the photos kept by who we can assume to be his family members. We finally see him for ourselves at the final level, having become powerful, and wealthy. But to what purpose?
The fact that you are on a journey around the world to track this man’s growth only becomes apparent at the end, and any argument that meeting his family members gives the game continuity falls flat when this cohesion has no actual effect upon the player’s experience of the game. I believe that the developers shoehorned this in in an attempt to give the game some purpose. But again, as this only becomes clear once the game is completed, The Tiny Bang Story is merely a hidden object game with little substance.
The only instance of intrigue (I hesitate to call it a plot point) is when the blonde man sits down with his family for tea, close to a wall where you can access previous puzzles. Sitting apart from the others is an elderly man we haven’t encountered elsewhere in the game. This mystery man is the only thing that leaves players wondering – who is he? And why is he alone?
Additionally, the meteorite hitting the planet isn’t used in the game for any other reason than to give an excuse to hide puzzle pieces. Why even bother with that prologue if you aren’t going to consider other effects that it would have on the planet and its inhabitants?
The Tiny Bang Story is an interesting enough hidden-object puzzle game that fails to draw the reader’s interest for any reason other than camouflaged puzzle pieces. Perhaps this explains why Calibri is yet to release another game.
The Tiny Bang Story is available on Steam, the Apple App Store, and Google Play.
Featured image is from The Tiny Bang Story’s Steam store page. Screenshots are my own unless otherwise stated.