March 2, 2023

Tinykin's best addition to the collect-a-thon genre is its plentiful Pollen

Tinykin's best addition to the collect-a-thon genre is its plentiful Pollen

Tinykin is a game about collecting things. Players explore a truly gigantic house in search of the titular Tinykin, balls of pollen, and household items that can be turned into some sort of space ship.

While discovering different species of Tinykin and creating the space ship rightfully take up most of the players focus, the collectible pollen actually serve as the bedrock that makes Tinykin such a joy to play.

Each room of the house contains upwards of 1000 glowing golden balls of pollen. Everywhere you look in every direction is pollen. There's pollen on the floor, pollen on the appliances, pollen floating strategically in the air. Pollen. Is. Everywhere. You literally can't go anywhere in the house without picking up pollen.

While it is absolutely possible to collect every piece of pollen in a room, and you can continuously upgrade your bubble glider by collecting a moderate number of them, the true purpose of the pollen is GUIDANCE. With the player being the size of a bug and normal household objects the size of buildings, it could be easy to get disoriented, uncertain of where you've been, or unsure of where you can still explore.

But that's where the pollen comes in!

With pollen covering almost every surface, the player has an easy and constant reminder of where they have and haven't been. Anywhere the player sees pollen is a place where they haven't yet explored.

Not sure where to explore next? Follow some pollen. Need some more Tinykin for a puzzle? Follow the pollen. See some pollen in the distance? Go touch that pollen!

For completionists, the pollen is a godsend. Where other games have you navigate large landscapes on your own, leaving plenty of opportunities to accidentally miss areas, Tinykin's pollen breadcrumbs guide you to every nook and cranny. It's unbelievably satisfying.

Tinykin's pollen has genuinely made exploration in other games less fun for me. If that's not the sign of a brilliant mechanic, I don't know what is.