Tin Hearts comes to Game Pass and we get to "Play Hard"!


The core gameplay objective  of Tin Hearts is simple; you have to get a set number of clockwork soldiers from their case to an exit. They only walk in a straight line so must be guided by placing angled blocks in their path. While the toy soldiers theme is original, the gameplay is reminiscent of the classic Lemmings games.

In order to guide the soldiers from their home case to the exit (usually a hole in the wall somewhere) triangular blocks must be placed on their preset bases in a specific way. Red triangle guide blocks become available later and can be set anywhere, in any orientation so they redirect the soldiers in the right direction. You can even flip them on their side to form ramps.

Albert and his daughter watch the soldiers use balloons to float over gaps for the first time.

The inventor and toymaker Albert J. Butterworth designed other gadgets including robots that inflate balloons (so the soldiers can float over gaps), movable drums for them to bounce off and cannons to knock down books that block their path. There's a lot of looking around and figuring out how to overcome the many obstacles your soldiers face, so you can zoom the view in with 'LB', and pause time, fast forward & rewind with 'RB' and the Right & Left Triggers respectively. Pausing the soldiers’ march is vital in many situations, and should you lose any you can rewind time to save them.

The study is the game's hub and contains display cases from which you can select any level, and a Medal board displays your extra awards for completing levels and other side objectives.

Originally a PCVR, PSVR and Metaquest game, and then a Nintendo Switch timed exclusive, now on Xbox One, X/S and PlayStation 4 & 5, Tin Hearts doesn't stretch the Xbox's graphical capabilities in any way, but the port has been done quite well, and has enchanting visuals and sound, with original music by award-winning composer Matthew Chastney, whose credits include trailers for ‘Bridgerton', 'JOKER’ and ‘Chernobyl'. Historically some VR games have twitchy controls when ported to play with a game controller, but that isn't the case here, and they even thought to put a "fine control" assist in if you're struggling to place a block exactly where it's required.

In many puzzles there are extra special boxes that contain the ability to "possess" and control a number of different items, such as gaining the ability to position toy trains, or aim cannons, drums and pinwheel windmills.

This sneaky Jack-in-the-Box is just one of the many hazards your tin soldiers face...

The Die Hard inspired Yippee-Ki-Play Hard update brought a bit of fun to the game with tiny tin Tim McClane. After 20 levels a special gadget makes a single soldier become controllable in third person, and in this Christmassy update Bruce Willis wannabe, tiny tin Tim McClane, complete with grubby vest and shoulder holster, replaces the playable soldier. Undoubtedly a bit of fun and a tribute to one of the best Christmas movies ever made, to be honest I found it all a bit underwhelming and pointless. That may sound Grinch-like but if Tim had been given a gun to shoot things with or a grappling hook or something to make traversing the levels easier then this could have been a brilliant free update, but just a skin for an ordinary soldier? Add the fact that he's only playable until January 10th and well... What exactly was the point?

Tim McClane is activated by guiding your soldiers to this lady, but can he save the troop?

The game has an emotional backstory concerning the toymaker Butterworth and his family, and I won't go into any spoilers but it's definitely sad. From the pre-release visuals I'd presumed Tin Hearts was aimed at a younger market but the plot would suggest otherwise. The puzzles soon become real brain teasers, so what appears to be a cute little game really isn't a PEGI 3 by any stretch of the imagination. Add a few annoying idiosyncrasies and a couple of glitches that should really have been fixed, and what could have been a heartwarming classic loses a few points. Tin Hearts is priced at £24.99 (£19.99 with Game Pass) and is definitely worth a look, especially if Rogue Sun fix a few of the niggles.

Yippee Ki-Play Funny Funsters!

Thanks to Rogue Sun and Wired Productions