Tiny Game, Big Chill

HIGH A great, laid-back puzzler.

LOW No ability to pan left or right.

WTF Polar bears and penguins do not coexist!

I’m not sure I’ve ever played a spot-the-difference videogame before — most of my knowledge on this genre is from Highlights magazine. Tiny Lands is a spot-the-difference title that takes the simple concept of noticing discrepancies between two images and explores the possibilities with 3D landscapes. Players looking for a chill, stress-free puzzler rejoice!

Each scene in Tiny Lands is depicted on a single square in isometric, low-polygon dioramas. Using the keyboard, these squares can be rotated or zoomed in to locate five differences between the original and a similar scene on the right of a split screen.

Puzzles in Tiny Lands are grouped in sets of 10 and follow themes, like polar, beach, or even Halloween. Differences can be size, color, or even an object facing a slightly different direction. Those at the beginning of each set tend to have more obvious discrepancies, while the puzzles near the end tend to have more challenging alterations.

Keeping with the laid-back atmosphere, there is no penalty for wrong clicks and players can spend as much time as they need to find the differences. When stuck, a simple exit allows players to proceed to the next puzzle at their leisure.

Each spotted difference earns a star, and these stars are needed to unlock later puzzles. Fortunately, players don’t need to seek perfection – locating most of the changes will be enough to unlock a large number of puzzles. This lack of stringency is a blessing, as some of the discrepancies are tough to find.

Besides my lack of ability to notice slight size differences in similarly-shaped objects, there’s not much I disliked about Tiny Lands. My only complaint is that there’s no ability to pan left and right on each puzzle. The zoom feature is tethered to the center of each tile, so enlarging the scene doesn’t help much if an alteration is along the edges.

Outside of that, fans of this genre will find Tiny Lands to be a relaxing, well-designed take on the well-known-in-print spot-the-difference formula.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Hyper Three Studio and published by Maple Whispering Limited. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the gamewas not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E. This game is safe for gamers of all ages. There are a few scenes, especially in the Halloween themed levels, that feature things like ghosts or evil glowing eyes, but there’s no bloodshed or gore.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not offer subtitles, but there is no audio narrative and text is minimal. The in-game text cannot be altered and/or resized. When a difference is spotted, an audio cue is accompanied by the item being painted gold signifying it has been found.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. This game does not offer a controller map diagram. Tiles are rotated left with the A key and right with the D key. W zooms in, while S zooms back out. The differences are clicked using a mouse.

Brian Theisen
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