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Tinyfolks is another example of why short games are sometimes the best

This week’s independent spotlight is formed on the solo project Tinyfolks. It’s basically Darkest Dungeon for less than a five. Short and sweet, it’s another one of 2022’s high-value indie games, much like the popular Vampire Survivors or its bulletell partner, 20 Minutes Till Dawn. Tinyfolks has a fantastic soundtrack, surprisingly in-depth mechanics based on Darkest Dungeon’s rock paper scissors, and is, in theory, the perfect platform for new content expansions.

Before I start talking about the “game loop” and other very compelling reviews, I have to start with the soundtrack. It’s just full of firecrackers. The vibes of Big Loop Hero (which aside from The Artful Escape had the best soundtrack of 2021) with heavy 8-bit beats and creepy tunes justifiably to match the depraved places you and your rookie band are in have to take a walk. The soundtrack is entirely done by the developer, Pierre Vandermaesen, and suits the aesthetics of the game perfectly. Some people can do it all. You can check out the full OST below.

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The art style is classic “£3 Indie”, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s stylized enough that you can look past the mere lack of pixels on your screen. Tinyfolks has this lovely muted color scheme that makes you feel like you’re reading the game from the back of a dusty book. Everything you need to understand is very clear: weapons, artifacts, enemies, status effects, etc. Your different characters, of which there are several types, are all immediately identifiable. Top marks all around for the visual design.

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Well, that’s enough for aesthetics. Tinyfolks is a short game – it took me 1.9 hours to beat my first run, according to Steam. You start with a base village with an inn where you hustle wandering farmers to become your trained warriors. Then you build a barracks, temple, campfire for hunters, and other buildings. Each of these allows you to branch out into new characters with different skills.

Discovering new class combinations, like turning a wizard into a battle mage, is very satisfying. There are over 20 different classes to discover and each has its own set of unique abilities. The game isn’t difficult on your first run, but it makes up for this apparent lack of content with various other challenge modes and achievement hunting. If this all sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it is. Darkest Dungeon nailed this formula in 2016. Tinyfolks is just a small sliver of something new to fill the quiet hours between games. No more no less.

In a year with absolute gigantic titles, it’s these little curated experiments that I have the most fun with. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my Steam library not knowing what to play, and the next games on the horizon don’t give me much hope. Lost Ark was a staple for a few months, but the scale of the ongoing grind basically turned me to dust. Neon White might keep me going with speed fantasies, but I just know I’m going to go back to games like Tinyfolks.

Vampire Survivors is probably my GOTY so far, for example. It’s a game you can play in 30-minute bursts and skip easily, but if you want to sit for 36 hours straight, you can. Tinyfolks is a very short game and I want more. Bite-sized little experiments. We recently wrote about how games can sometimes feel creatively bankrupt, but Tinyfolks reminds us how indies can capture a gamer and hold them for a few precious hours.

Steam Next Fest is going on right now and it’s full of fantastic upcoming indies. Developers, if you’re listening, don’t be distracted by the allure of Starfield’s promised 1,000 planets. Some people just want to pop in and out and see everything in the time it takes to watch a gaming showcase with 15 space games.

NEXT: The Most Exciting Part Of Starfield Is Its Futuristic Cities


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