Tamarin is a cute single-player adventure platformer that follows monkey king Tamarin. His village was ravaged by insects and evil ants who set him home ablaze and kidnapped his family. Our mission is to save the wildlife and our family from the grips of the savage bugs.
From the beginning of the game, players are led through a short tutorial on gun usage, jumping, and targeting. We can leap around the area to find red mask currency and birdhouses. Redmasks are used to purchase new weapons and upgrades from a friendly hedgehog. Birdhouses are drop off points where players can successfully save 3 birds at a time. Therefore, it is important to find all the birdhouses to give them shelter.
Once we enter a combat zone, a number of abilities used in the overworld are disabled. Often, this is true in the Insekt Factory and not when Tamarin runs around the overworld. Disallowing access to the double jump ability or backflip ensures that players don’t cheat their way into areas they don’t have access to. We must find another way!
Early on, we are introduced to a hedgehog who serves as a guide. The spiked fellow keeps himself hidden from the ants and often pops up to trade currency for weapons or abilities. Each weapon has specific uses throughout the game and gives access to new locations. I like the hedgehog because he’s helpful and pops up right when you need him.
There are a couple of different weapons players can use for gameplay. To start, Tamarin is given the Uzi, a precise weapon that is great for taking out one or two enemy ants. Next, the machine gun which shoots quickly but is inaccurate. And later grenades and rocket launchers used to open doors and pathways that can’t otherwise be accessed.
Graphics and UI
Overall the graphics in Tamarin are beautiful. The scenery in many places reminds me of a watercolor painting with excellent lighting and depth. Even on medium graphics, the aesthetic is serene. However, in some sections of the game, the graphics did feel off. During one of the first tunnel areas, I strafed to the sidewall to hide behind a crate. Unfortunately, because of the controls, the auto-targeting would jerk the camera in such a way that I began to feel almost seasick. This is partly due to the fact that when players were against the wall, the camera location and character POV would sometimes glitch through the wall.
As for the UI/controls, there were times where my controller wasn’t sensitive enough to target creatures properly. And, there is no option to change the field of view nor controller sensitivity, both of which would make for a much better gameplay experience. Another gripe about the game is that there is no keyboard/mouse support, although you can use the WASD keys. It’s almost as though the developer deliberately reversed the mouse targeting and speed to a ridiculously high DPI to deter players. If this was intentional, I hate it. There’s no reason to force controller only gameplay when there is actual input received from a keyboard and mouse.
Pros and Cons
- Neat premise.
- A great way to kill a couple of hours, though I wish there were more levels.
- For the most part, the graphics are quite stunning.
- The gameplay is fairly smooth. There was no lag between zones or cutscenes. However, the firefly animation did drop to 30 FPS at times.
- In terms of audio, when Tamarin snuck across certain bridges there was no sound, but when he ran across there was a distinct wooden sound.
- The game is designed so that it covers a broad age range.
- Landing in water doesn’t automatically kill the player, though the toxic water gave less time to escape.
- Reminiscent of old school platforming.
- General Issues
- Some of the firefly challenges are far too long. In fact, there is no timer carry over to make these a slight bit easier. (I have words for the person who came up with these…)
- Sometimes there is momentum where it shouldn’t be.
- Enemy hitboxes are not consistent – sometimes you clearly hit them but the game doesn’t think you did!
- Options Menu
- No KBM support! In fact, there is the ability to move and shoot on the keyboard and mouse but the targeting with the mouse is reversed (up is down, down is up.)
- No sensitivity sliders for camera movement or aiming!
- The camera work is abysmal at times. Occasionally it would get stuck on walls or reveal areas in behind them.
- Camera controls are inconsistent.
- Targeting foes is sometimes a challenge. The auto-targeting doesn’t focus on the creatures intended.
- Also on that note, the targeting on the controller is painful. When using the targeting on an enemy, its radical would return to the center if you strafed. This made targeting almost useless, in my opinion.
- Sometimes collecting fireflies would lock its animations to 30 frames a second, but not consistently.
- Also, running at the highest graphics settings revealed texturing on the monkey’s head. It is reminiscent of old arcade simulated ‘fluffiness’ and I hated it.
Final Thoughts on Tamarin
This title had the potential to be fun, exciting, and cute. However, I almost echoed other reviews of Tamarin based on a short playthrough that left me feeling sick to my stomach. The camera controls and targeting comprise the bulk of my issues with the title. Also, as I’m a keyboard and mouse player, I struggled to play Tamarin because of the aforementioned issues. But, after trying my hand again and seeing the gameplay of others, I changed my initial impression of the game.
Overall, the game is a relaxing and fun platformer with easy puzzles and a decent amount of mayhem. Despite the fact that I struggled to play the game, I found myself enjoying it once I ignored some of its blatant issues.