MINImax Tinyverse is a tower-rush strategy game with a God complex. Currently on Steam Early Access, this game from Korean studio O’olBlue Inc. comes straight from the school of Clash Royale. There are no two ways to put it, MINImax Tinyverse takes its inspiration from Supercell’s classic mobile game but at least tries to put a spin on the concept.
It does so by cleverly mixing the tower-rush design with the option to interact with your hero and the battlefield. The ‘Lemmings meets Black & White’ comparison is adequate, as you can’t control your troopers or hero, but you can affect them in several ways using miracles – or in other words, skills.
God of Thunder and… Soap Bubbles?!
MINImax Tinyverse’s design is intriguing and makes for some interesting visual flourishes. The battlefield is set up just like a tabletop game, with the player manipulating the units and affecting the playground from above. You can see your hand picking up your Champion as well as working on the miracles in several ways, including placing ramps or shooting a fish bubble gun to protect your units. Discovering the new ways that your hand interacts with the map and units is fun until you finally settle for the ones that are more useful to your strategies.
There are two factions to choose from in MINImax Tinyverse: the sun-worshipping human realm of Aillai and the moonlight-worshipping beast-like realm of Creaea. This isn’t just for lore purposes as well – the Aillai see farther during daytime while the Creaea benefit from nighttime. This has a direct effect on your unit’s attack range and with the constant changes between day and night, is of utmost importance to the outcome of the match. There are four Champions for each faction that you can unlock by reaching a predetermined experience level, but… well, I’ll return to this matter in a while.
You can create a profile for each faction, but they level up independently, which means that you’ll be going through double the trouble to unlock Champions, miracles and troopers, so it’s advisable to focus in one of them before experimenting with the other.
There are a few winning conditions that you can strive for. Destroying the enemy base leads to instant victory, as you would expect. The one who has more points when the 6-minute timer runs out wins the match, but if there’s a tie then it’s time for sudden death where the team that first destroys a tower is the winner. Each team has two towers and a base to protect.
Now, let’s talk about miracles. Miracles are the skills of MINImax Tinyverse and you have around two dozen right now to unlock and choose from. A few of them are tied to the game (crayon wall, hero picking and ramps), while a maximum of six additional miracles can be selected before every match. Only three of these are available at a given time, with the next miracle taking the place of the one that was just used. Each miracle costs a given amount of mana and this is where skilled players will stand out from the rest of the pack – a consistent selection of miracles and wise use will often lead to victory.
Some miracles are as fun to use as they are to watch. The flaming path is a personal favorite, as your giant hand strikes a match, creating a wall of flames that will damage everything that steps on it. The stimulant is also very useful, as a single drop boosts your soldier’s abilities.
Sign Me Up… Wait, What’s That Fine Print?
Troopers are your faithful minions that will do whatever they can to destroy their opponents – mostly blindly marching forward, so don’t expect a lot of brain activity going on. You can pick your favorites by keeping in mind that you have 60 diamonds to spend and every group costs a set number of diamonds. For example, the Footman unit will be your first choice, costing 10 diamonds for a party of four. You unlock more troopers as you win matches and earn gems.
Both realms share the same miracles, but the troopers are different for each one. You can expect 11 types for each one, divided into the usual classes, including tank, healer, scout and more.
MINImax Tinyverse is a fun little game that doesn’t break any new ground but could be an entertaining way to spend a few hours. As a free-to-play game, it is shaping up to be an interesting entry in the tower-rush genre with a clever twist and a genuinely amusing design.
And now comes the ‘but’: it is severely hindered by an unexpected paywall. As it turns out, one does not get to simply unlock other Champions as you level up, but instead you must pay for them. Apart from the starting Champion, only one more can be unlocked, with the remaining two requiring the purchase of the Two-Realm Unlock Pack. Some troopers and miracles are also locked behind this paywall, which doesn’t come particularly cheap at $24,99 USD and isn’t exactly great value for money, especially considering that the diversity on offer isn’t that vast to begin with.
This sounds like a hefty price to pay for a few extra characters and skills and could eventually turn what is a fun little game into an overpriced, unbalanced curiosity. Hopefully the development team will lower the price or review the locked options as to make the game more accessible and fairer. As I stumbled across the locked Champion, I felt like I was being virtually kicked out of the game unless I paid for the DLC.
Since this is Early Access, a lot may still change. I should also mention that the player base is extremely low for now, making the simple task of finding a match a bit of a chore, and the menu music quickly gets on your nerves.
While I played MINImax Tinyverse, I had a bit of fun – that is, until the issues with locked content arose, and that felt like a punch in the stomach. If they manage to let players unlock most content through natural gameplay progression, it would make a huge difference. For now, MINImax Tinyverse left a bitter taste in my mouth that I’m hoping will go away when the official release comes.Related: Cartoon, MINImax Tinyverse, MOBA, Preview, Steam Early Access, Tower Defense