Developed by Asylum Square and published by Intermediaware Tiny Thor is a 2D retro inspired platformer set to release on PC at some undetermined point in the future; the steam page listing states it will release “When it’s done”. Tiny Thor sees you playing the titular Thor on his birthday and embarking on a big adventure armed with his trusty hammer Mjölnir.
The demo was released as part of the Steam Next Fest a few months back and is still available to download. Tiny Thor shows promise even at this stage in it’s development. Offering what feels like an evolution of classic PC platforming experiences without feeling too reductive. However there are some elements of its current presentation which feel like they need a tweak or two to take it to the next level.
A demo for Tiny Thor can be downloaded on Steam.
STORY – HAMMER TIME!
Tiny Thor tells the story of Thor, a young lad who on his eighth birthday receives the mighty hammer Mjölnir from his father Odin and soon sets off on an adventure into the woods to defeat evil monsters all in time for his birthday party.
As it currently stands there isn’t much to talk about with regards Tiny Thor’s story. This isn’t due to a lack of quality but a simple lack of content. Which is fine; this is a demo after all, a taster, a sample of what expect. And what we do get is perfectly fine for what it is.
However, it can be a little hard to tell who is talking at times; much like How We Know We’re Alive or The Secret of Monkey Island the dialogue is in different colours depending on who is talking. It’s a well used concept. However some colours look a little too similar to one and other. And whilst I do admit this is more an issue for the Graphics & Audio section it can make hard to understand what is going on. Though granted there isn’t much to begin with at this point anyway.
Again, it is only a demo after all. It exists to give you a slice of what to expect from the main title. And as things stand Tiny Thor looks and feels decent and I look forwards to learning more about these characters and this world once the final title releases.
GAMEPLAY – THE TINY AND THE THOR
Tiny Thor is a 2D platformer that sees you controlling young Thor as he travels across various levels, jumping over gaps, monsters, and lobbing his hammer to gather collectables and smash up baddies and the demo’s boss. Defeating bosses unlock new abilities that Thor can use, though granted you don’t get much chance to use the one you unlock in the demo as you get it towards the end.
There is no denying that the core mechanics here are solid and that the demo offers a fine glimpse into what the final product may look like. And as is always the case with previews certain aspects of it can and no doubt will be fine tuned and refined as the final release draws nearer. As a whole it is an easy enough game to pick up and play.
However if I am to be critical I have to say that the keyboard controls are where the game is lacking the most. The keyboard controls, whilst functionally identical to the controller’s, suffer as many of the controls feel bunched up around the same area. Which makes your response times to certain threats feel a tad more sluggish than they should. And your fingers feel cramped as they dance about the various button combinations needed to meet the task at hand. This is made all the worse due to the fact that you cannot rebind keys in this release.
HAMMER DON’T HURT ‘EM
By contrast the controls on a gamepad are great. Solid. Intuitive. With obvious care being made to ensure that the kinds of gripes one would have playing a game like this aren’t present. For example when it comes to throwing your hammer you won’t suddenly find yourself accidentally guiding Thor to his doom off the side of a cliff soon after using it.
Once you hold down the right button you are kept in place till you release it again. It might not sound like much, but it’s the small things like this which can make Tiny Thor such a breeze to play. Again, unless you are playing on Keyboard.
To be fair some might see this as a petty complaint; platformers almost always play best with controllers so naturally the controller is going to be the best. However platformers are at their best when the controls are tight, responsive, and intuitive regardless of the input device. And sadly at this current moment that isn’t quite the case for Keyboard users.
There is a surprising amount of precision platforming in Tiny Thor’s opening levels. Or at least, it feels that way given how shallow and short Thor’s jump is; it isn’t terribly high and he doesn’t remain airborne all that long. This can make certain jumping sequences feel harder than it seems like they should be. Sequences which would easily be eased with the double jump being unlocked sooner.
However it’s not hellishly difficult. And practice does make perfect. It is just that it can be demoralising to fail a simple jump over and over again when you know that a double jump, or even a higher base jump, would make the platforming so much easier to contend with.
Still, even with all that said and done my issues with the title are minor. Tiny Thor isn’t some uncontrollable mess or anything like that. I honestly did enjoy my time playing it and I was sorely disappointed when it ended. The title shows a lot of promise. Not just to those like me who get a kick out of the sound and aesthetics of it. It is a solid platformer that has a great potential to become a fantastic and memorable game.
SOUND & VISUALS – NAILED IT
Tiny Thor is a pleasantly designed game with a solid soundtrack and art style. Honestly the soundtrack and some of the visuals do remind me of the Amiga games I played as a child. And whilst that might not have been the exact source of inspiration for the developers Tiny Thor still has a feel to it which shows it’s wearing its heart on its sleeve. All without referencing its influences too much.
Maybe it’s just me coming off of reviewing the Zool remaster, but the game has that Amiga flavour to it. Regardless however the title is bright and colourful with some fun monster and character designs. And the levels themselves have a great flow to them ensuring that you never get lost. Yet as retro feeling as the art style might have it still has a decent amount of visual depth and detail to it. But never so much that it feels too visually busy.
Tiny Thor’s soundtrack has a powerful feel to it. One that has a balance of sounding both adventurous but faintly retro at the same time. But never so adventurous it feels at odds with the tone of the game as is. Nor is it so retro it sounds too navel gazing or uninspired. The soundtrack understands the tone of the type of game needs perfectly. It’s a fun platformer. As retro as some of the presentation might be it doesn’t feel like you need to understand its inspirations to apricate it.
Tiny Thor was previewed on PC.