Tinyfolks is a minimalist retro RPG with a fun mechanics, a sound track that is entirely too good, and a heart of gold. The concept is not complicated – you must take back your kingdom from evildoers by gathering adventurers from the local town. Deck out your group with the newest kit, and battle monsters ranging from ogres to leeches to dinosaurs… I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t addicting! Perhaps best of all is Tinyfolks is $4. You can get hours of enjoyment for less than a drink at the nearest café.. or bar, if you’re into that!
Overthrown and Outnumbered
Not all is as it seems in your fantastic kingdom. You, the king, have been deposed from the throne and an evil force is now the ruler. You have 40 days to build up your forces, gather your soldiers, and defeat the evil monsters that are now running through your once luxurious castle. Being forced to the edge of your kingdom and living in a Podunk little town may seem hopeless, but this town quickly becomes a shining beacon of light and hope. The unnamed town is the core of your progression. In the span of 40 days, you’ll have the opportunity to watch it really grow to support your adventuring party with new buildings and mechanics.
At the start, you’ll only have yourself, the king or queen, in your party. You can visit the tavern to recruit a new adventurer. At the beginning there are not a lot of options – you’ll mostly find “folks” or peasants. After recruiting yourself a friend, it’s time to select an expedition and gather valuable resources. The first level, Fairy Forest, introduces you to the turn based battles. Even at the beginning, each member of your group will have different abilities based on their class. Your folk can throw tomatoes and recover HP with a snack, and your monarch can burn foes or heal your team.
Completing the first level, Fairy Forest, will net you the money and items you need to start upgrading your town. There are several buildings you can build, but it all depends on what you need and your overall strategy. By putting your folks into the barracks, you can turn them into a soldiers. Or you can put your materials into the Magicarium and turn your folks into a magicians. There’s a hunting camp for rangers, a temple for priests, and slums for rogues and thieves. You can train any folk twice, and you can mix and match where they’re trained at. My favorite is the Mage which you get by one training in the Temple and one training in the Magicarium. There’s a ton of opportunity here—there are over 20 different classes you can use!
Dozens of Classes to Play With
Each of your party members will have different skills based on their class. I already mentioned how the peasant can throw tomatoes or eat a haunch of meat to regain HP. Soldiers are particularly useful in the early game because they have attacks that can hit multiple enemies. However, using skills will quickly deplete your POW. When you go through a level, you won’t regain your POW or HP in-between fights, so it is imperative that you think ahead. Additionally, you’ll really want to make sure your team members are synchronized and that their abilities work off each other.
Some classes, like the Mage, can restore a party member’s POW. Others like the occultist focus in statuses like bleed and poison. In a way, it’s reminiscent of the holy trinity of tank, DPS, and healer. In practice, monsters will attack anyone and everyone so it’s important to keep your members topped off. There are items and equipment you can bring to make it a bit easier, but these are relatively rare since the traveling merchant only appears in the town every couple of days.
Not All Classes Are Equal
With all of the different classes available, you will probably develop favorites and continue coming back to strategies that work. Some classes are underpowered and underdeveloped, and never get the chance to blossom. One example would be the Templar, which functions as a tank of sorts, but in practice ends up not contributing to the team unless you are doing challenge runs. Another example is the Wizard, which runs out of POW so quickly he will turn into a dead weight after firing just a couple off spells. On the flip side, the Mage can restore POW to party members so I kept coming back to him to recover my party’s skills. There’s a bit of balancing that needs to be done so that more party compositions are viable.
The balancing problems can also be attributed to the enemy designs. Later on, dungeons and their bosses have devastating abilities. If you base your team around fire damage or a specific status, you may be disappointed when you find out some bosses are immune to fire, bleed, or poison. Some bosses are so resistant to damage or have so much self-heal that it is impossible to win. I understand that having knowledge about the game is important, but I started to feel shoe-horned into specific classes and roles.
The visuals are a bit of a weird style, using only a few shades of greens and blacks. It gives a retro aesthetic, and many of the enemies are pixelated doo-dads that barely correlate to what they actually represent. I’m personally not fond of the visuals, but what I do like is the music. While you’re upgrading your folks or diving into dungeons, you should know that you’ll be bobbing your head to some fantastic tunes. From the title theme all the way through the credits, you’ll find a great selection of 8-bit and chiptune-style music.
Let’s be honest here: this is a simple game that costs less than most cosmetic items in other games, and that drives a certain expectation. You have to be realistic and know what to expect from a $4 game. It’s not wildly innovative in any particular area, and the visuals are a duotone, minimalistic style. However, the value proposition here reminds me of other affordable indies like Vampire Survivors. I say if you are looking to spend a few hours in a classic roguelike RPG, this is a great, affordable contender contender.
Is Tinyfolks Playablee on the Steam Deck?
In my testing, Tinyfolks does run on the Steam Deck but Cloud Saves do not work. As of this post, Tinyfolks is Unverified.