Review: The Tiny Bang Story
I think 'The Tiny Bang Story', from Colibri Games and Herocraft, is going to divide opinion between gamers. It's a wonderful scenario with lush graphics, but the game play is very light and superficial. If you are looking for a gentle game to while away the time, then this is worth a look.
Version Reviewed: 220.127.116.11
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You start off the game at the foot of a steam-punk inspired building, after your home planet (the Tiny Planet) has been devastated by an asteroid impact and you have to rebuild the planet through a point and click adventuring style interface.
The Tiny Bang Story asks you to solve visual puzzles to progress through the game. These could be as simple as unlocking a window to open it (and airing your steam-punk house). The trick is not how you solve the puzzles, but finding the puzzles. Tiny Bang is a visual game, which will ask you to look over a scene to find both the objects you can collect, and the items that they can interact with.
Thankfully the first few screens of the game will guide you around the artwork in the world, helping you pick out objects you can collect (by touching them) and items that you can interact with (err... by touching them). You'll find out how to move between screens (it's a touch) and with a bit of exploration on the screen, how to call up the in-game options (yes, another touch).
I know that most games on a touch-screen phone are driven by the screen, but The Tiny Bang Story takes this to extremes. The hunt-and-tap genre has been popular on the internet, mostly in flash-based productions, but this is one of the few versions I have seen that is especially for mobile. It's also one of the most artistic games I've seen in a long time.
There is no doubting that the artwork here is amazing. There's a lot of steam-punk influence in here, and that matches the ramshackle nature of finding objects to interact with other items in the game. It allows for smooth natural colours edged in metal to mix with the landscape, and it means that you can tuck objects away in plain sight and have them blend in just enough to be hidden from a cursory glance, but obviously out of place (and therefore open to interaction) with a more concentrated examination of a scene.
This leads to the frustrating issue with The Tiny Bang Story. The challenge is not 'find a pebble', but 'try and work out what you need to find'. Until you can divine that you need to find the rung for a ladder, you don't know what you are looking for. And once you have the ladder rung, do you know where you need to place it? Or have you found the combination safe puzzle that you need to solve and are trying to work out where to find information about the combination?
Unless you are really (really) good at picking up the cryptic clues in each scene, The Tiny Bang Story can rapidly turn into a 'tap everything to see what happens' kind of game. It does get you through the level, but it feels false to me when I have to resort to this. Back-engineering the story in my head on why I have picked up an object and used it with a certain item is not the way to experience the slowly unfolding story developed here (which involves rather a lot of jigsaw pieces, but more on that as you work through the game).
The design on show here, from the artwork and the UI to the gentle environmental sounds and in-game backing music, exhibits a certain amount of pride in the final product. Colibri has taken the best elements of a the 'hunting' game and coupled it with their mobile experience. Technically there's very little in this title that I can find fault with.
The Tiny Bang Story is a different style of game to one normally seen on mobile. It is slow-paced, cerebral, and requires heaps of lateral thinking to progress. Yes, you can blunder around like a bull in a china shop, but that doesn't guarantee you solving all the problems. The Tiny Bang Story is a hard game to love, but those that do get bitten by the romance will be happily lost in a puzzling world of adventure for a long time.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at