Tiny Metal – PC Review

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 Genre: Strategy Turn-based Tactics Indie
Developer: AREA 35
Publisher: UNTIES
Release Date: Dec 21, 2017
Edited by CrimsonMomongaSSS

Tiny Metal is a decent little strategy game. The graphics are cartoony, which is part of the charm. The voiced dialogue is all Japanese with English translated text boxes. There are some slightly off translations which I find entertaining, reminiscent of “All your base are belong to us.” The story is straightforward, with all the twists heavily hinted at. The plot is entertaining enough, but I feel the narrative was only used to give some context to the beginning of each campaign match. It did make the campaign flow nicely, but, like in other similar games I have played (Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3), the way the cutscenes and story moments interrupt the gameplay makes for a slightly clunky experience in my opinion. Overall, I find the campaign fun and engaging, with the story not adding much to the experience.

The game has a well-crafted battle system which is based on a tactics-style battlefield. This makes it highly turn based, down to each individual unit, and allows you to take your time, lay out your strategy, and get moving. The turns are a bit on the slow side, but I find that it makes the battle system very straight-forward, bordering on simplistic. The grid-like playing field keeps you from totally overwhelming your opponent with numbers, but you can still surround and overwhelm individual enemy units. Speaking of units, I felt the production speed of units was well balanced. Unit production is based on currency gained from city ownership. Units can be purchased one unit per turn per captured barracks. This makes the whole economy/army building based on capturing cities, barracks, and airports, which I find fun and refreshing. The troops allow for friendly pass-through, which is a nice plus. Overall, I enjoyed playing the game. The multiplayer was not open when I played the game for review, so my impressions are of the campaign and skirmishes only.

The game is lightweight, at only 2GB, and playable on just about any computer made within the last 4 years. Running the game isn’t very hardware intensive, with the GPU bearing the brunt of the load. The game plays smoothly, the graphics are well polished, and the loading times are short. I have to say, the game is well built. It does play easiest with a controller or trackpad, which is fine, but purchasing a controller for such a simply controlled game, when a mouse should be more than enough, is too much in my opinion.

I found the gameplay to be on the relaxed side. The NPC’s do not have adjustable difficulty; instead, the difficulty is based purely on how many opponents you are facing, which makes out-thinking your opponents easy. This could quickly lead a more competitive player to feel that the battles are too simple, which could limit the appeal to multiplayer-only for them. To win, the name of the game is to out-maneuver your opponent while leading them into traps and ambushes. I find myself playing a match of this game every time I can load it up just to relax. To me, the gameplay seems better suited for a mobile platform; it’s the type where you could it pull up and get a match in during a break at work. At least, as long as you’re safely in the realm of mostly casual game play. The “casual” part could very well be thrown out the window with multiplayer.

There is one glaring issue for me when using a trackball mouse. While trying to select units, the region between no scrolling and fast scrolling is very small, leading to a yo-yo scrolling effect that makes control nearly impossible until the mouse is centered. Using a trackpad or controller is a more effective alternative. I do realize I am in the minority using this style of mouse, but it’s worth mentioning.

In summary I enjoy the game, and intend to return to it periodically. I do feel that it’s on par with similar style indie games at slightly lower price points, so I would suggest picking the game up when it goes on sale. As stated before, the controls are most enjoyable with a controller, so if you already own one I would suggest using it.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Easily recognizable units
  • Easy to control, mostly point and click
  • Simple and fun gameplay
  • Easy to pick up
  • Casual and fun

Cons:

  • Some aspects seem over-simplistic
  • Enemy AI is limited (Easy.)
  • Too sensitive when using trackball mice

Locochuwawa gives Tiny Metal a Drastik Measure 7.0 out of 10 (70).

Tiny Metal is available on Steam for $24.99 USD.