Tiny in name and not huge in content, either.
I was really looking forward to Tiny Metal. It reminded me (as I’m sure it did many others) of Advance Wars, the awesome strategy war game for the Gameboy Advance. Its graphics are undeniably reminiscent of the glory days of the early years of the new millennia. The first time I fired up Tiny Metal, I was excited to play.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long until the game became somewhat of a chore. Quite quickly the battle animations become stale, and they’re also very basic. There’s little to no variety in effects of the damage you inflict on the enemy. Shoot a unit of soldiers with a barrage of machine gun fire, and as you’d expect there are bullet impact effects. Bombard them with tank shells, and it’s exactly the same.
It’s not that there isn’t anything to like about Tiny Metal. I enjoyed most of the visual design, with cute units creating the feeling of a light-hearted game. There are also some interesting mechanics. Units get promoted when taking down enemies or capturing buildings. Once captured, structures provide you with income, which can be spent at captured factories to produce other units. Hospitals are occasionally dotted around some of the maps, healing your damaged units.
When targeting an enemy, instead of performing an attack straight away you can instead choose to lock in. Attacking that same unit with another of yours allows you to focus fire. The advantage of this is that both of your units get to attack, and the enemy can only retaliate upon one of yours.
The hero units provide a nice mix to the rigmarole of battle. These units are stronger than normal units, and also grow in strength throughout a mission. They can be brought with you into the following missions as well. Discounting these there are a total of 14 units in the game, which is just about enough, though it would be good to see more added to the game in future DLC. The heavy metal unit (juxtaposing the game’s title), is perhaps one of the more interesting and powerful, firing lasers instead of normal artillery. Who doesn’t like lasers? Though I was somewhat disappointed when these units were introduced. “Is that a heavy metal?”, the main character queried. I hoped to see Iron Maiden running to the hills packing machine guns.
The single player campaign consists mainly of reading (or listening, if you speak Japanese) to an uninspiring and incredibly lengthy dialogue in between missions. Then, when you are thrust into a sortie, you’ll spend much of it face-palming as the AI makes one incredibly stupid move after another. Frequently a unit of soldiers will attack your tank units (who can inflict at best tickling damage on them), only to be decimated by the retaliation fire.
Once you’ve completed Campaign mode, the only other option at the moment is Skirmish. These are a set of missions that require you to destroy the enemy units. There are plenty to choose from; however, most are described as ‘fun’ difficulty. This means you don’t need to engage your brain to win. Though the harder missions do require some strategy, the limited variance in units makes it pretty straightforward. In future updates I’d like to see an option to create your own skirmishes, which could be shared through the Steam Workshop.
Multiplayer mode was sadly not available on release, and is still not in the game yet. This is a shame, as multiplayer could be what Tiny Metal needs to make it enjoyable. Unfortunately, without any modding or multiplayer, I see little reason to return to Tiny Metal. It’s likely that by the time there is a DLC for multiplayer mode, most people currently playing the game may not still be enticed to play. There is a New Game Plus option once you complete the main campaign, but that’s just not enough.
There is planned DLC, yet no word on pricing. I feel that the first one at least should be reasonably priced, as without it Tiny Metal doesn’t yet feel like a complete game, especially given it’s current price.
You can pick up Tiny Metal on Steam for £19.99. If you’d rather wait for multiplayer, we’ll be sure to let you know when this is released.