REVIEW / Tin Hearts (PS4)

There are some really good puzzlers coming onto the market at the moment and with this being one of my favorite genres I’m all for it. The thing about puzzle games on the whole, (outside the realm of puzzle adventures like The Witness for example,) is they aren’t usually of any kind of scale. They are generally pretty two-dimensional, and in most cases, once you’ve learned the rules it’s just rinse and repeat with an increased level of difficulty. Please note that I don’t have any kind of issue with this, I’m not expecting the crossword puzzle I’m doing to suddenly sprout a pair of legs and start performing backflips. The point I’m making is there doesn’t seem to be much of a middle space. It’s either puzzles that are confined within their own boundaries or the case where there are no boundaries and you have to go looking for the puzzles. Tin Hearts, a game I’m playing at the moment could easily have fallen into the former of these two camps but It’s just different enough to bring it into the realm of something a little unique.

Tin Hearts sees us guiding a little troop of toy soldiers from a starting point to an exit. When we boil the mechanics down to their simplest form this is literally all this game is. I can absolutely attest to there being a wonderful amount to love about this title beyond this but this is the foundation we’re building from. This is also an elevation of a classic type of puzzle where you need to get your character from A to B but they can only walk in a straight line. You need to push them in different directions to get them to where they need to go. This game is that; on steroids.

The scale of this puzzler is truly impressive.

What makes Tin Hearts truly special, aside from the beautifully haunting, bitter-sweet story is the scale of this game. The levels will start small as you learn how to get your little troop of soldiers to change direction. At first, this is done by placing colored blocks that form corner tiles. As the soldiers hit the blocks they’ll move in whichever direction they’re pointing. As you play further, though more layers are added to your strategy. These include the ability to control time, something you’ll be using a lot. The levels will grow dramatically in size too. A level might see you move your troops from one side of a room to another. This can include them bouncing off drums to reach another table where the next set of obstacles will await. The blocks I mentioned earlier start within reach and you’ll find yourself having to walk around the room looking for them as you continue. All this just adds to the addictive fun that basically comes with playing with toys.

Nothing about Tin Hearts is one-dimensional. New layers and elements are added all of the time.

As a bit of a back story, you’ll be taking on the role of a toymaker.  Aside from the wonderful creations in your workshop your pride and joy is your wife and daughter. You’ll learn more about the toy maker’s story as you work your way through the game but there is a real sense of sadness to the plot, which appears to play out as a series of memories. These memories appear in the form of spectral characters as you play. I’m not going into any detail because I’m learning as I’m going, too. I’m a little way into the second act now and thoroughly enjoying every beat of the narrative.

Your arsenal of tools will expand as you play. Everything you come across is useful; there are no throwaway items here.

I love the fact that you can move about the levels freely. You can take your time to figure out the path you need to take by physically maneuvering yourself from point to point working out where your soldiers need to go. Ideally, you should really be able to solve the level before even allowing your men out of their box. This isn’t always possible, though, and some levels need to be completed in stages. This is why the ability to rewind and pause time is so important. It allows you to plan your next series of moves without losing all of your troops. It’s not just a case of placing blocks for them by the way, you’ll have an ever-growing litany of obstacles to work around if you’re going to succeed.

I love everything about Tin Hearts from the graphics to the story to the gameplay.  Everything feels like it’s been put together with a great amount of thought and attention to detail. I started reviewing this title the same way I review all of them. I play for about an hour to get a feel and then usually come back later for a proper session. In this case, my hour turned into a four-hour gaming spree. Even my partner who isn’t generally a gamer was drawn into the world of Tin Hearts with me and we sat together solving the puzzles. This is a massive accolade for this title. Any game that can make a non-gamer fall in love with it has to be doing something pretty special.

The story is beautiful, melancholy, and heartwarming all at the same time.

So what don’t I like about Tin Hearts? There has to be something that the devs overlooked, right? Amazingly, no not really. The controls are perfect for the style of the game. The graphics and sound are really well executed, the story is gorgeous and the gameplay feels familiar. This is a good thing in this case as you feel fairly comfortable playing right from the very beginning. This means you can concentrate on all of the other things that make Tin Hearts so wonderful. In addition to this, you can’t die. At no point did I feel pressured to rush or that a level was so hard it was impeding my fun. The levels are challenging but to a perfect level. You don’t want the game to be easy but at the same time it would be very easy to make this title so difficult you didn’t have the chance to see how the story progressed and that would be a real shame. My only gripe and this is a tiny little thing is that the camera angles can be a bit awkward at times. Nothing so as to ruin the experience but even in precision view positioning my soldiers was tricky at times. This being said, I need to stress that this is a minuscule moan in comparison to all of the things Tin Hearts does brilliantly.

All in all, in my humble opinion, Tin Hearts is a nearly perfect puzzler. If you love giving the old gray cells a workout and doing it to a beautifully written story you’d be insane not to give this title a whirl. Tin Hearts is also very replayable. If you’re an achievement hunter that needs to grab everything the game has to offer you’ll need to complete many of the levels more than once, while taking various prerequisites into account. This is a new favorite game in my PS4 library and I think it might well be one in yours too if you give it the chance.


A hauntingly beautiful affair
  • 10/10
    Looks and feel - 10/10
  • 9/10
    controls - 9/10
  • 9/10
    story - 9/10
  • 9/10
    challenge - 9/10
  • 10/10
    Gameplay - 10/10

Puizzling perfection

Tin Hearts has very quickly found a place in my own heart and become one of my favorite games of this year. If you’re a puzzle fan you’d be insane not to give this title a while. Those of you that love a good narrative but could generally take or leave puzzles in games will still find a great deal to love here as the gameplay is addicting enough to keep you sucked in. I genuinely don’t have any complaints to speak of and I’m really happy that this is taking pride of place in my PS4 library.