Publisher: Area 35
Game Type: Military Turn Based Strategy
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4
Reviewed by: The Uncle Sam
Let me start out by saying that I stumbled upon this game by accident and was pleasantly surprised. I was browsing Steam for new releases and I discovered it the day of release (Dec 21st). It called itself a military RTS and had an anime feel to it so I clicked on it. Upon closer observation I realized that it reminded me closely of Advanced Wars, a Gameboy Advance game that I used to play a ton of in middle school. Needless to say I was excited to find out what the game was about.
Tiny Metal is like its description says, a military turn based strategy game that requires knowing the status and location of all your units at all times. As a commander you are able to command many different units ranging from Infantrymen to heavy bombers in order to defeat your enemy by either complete annihilation or by capturing their HQ. While some missions will give you units at the beginning to control, sometimes you have to capture military bases and airfields to build new units.
Upon beginning gameplay, everything I saw looked similar to that of Advanced Wars at the beginning. You have infantry units that can capture cities, but get wrecked by scout Humvee units. You have tanks (metals) that beat infantry and scouts, and then you have aircraft and indirect fire units that decimate everything else. You get awarded credits at the beginning of every turn according to the amount of cities you control. So the strategic food chain and economy is very similar to the Advanced Wars franchise, but there were a few distinct features that make TINY METAL gameplay unique such as the ability for multiple units to joint fire on the same unit to do increased damage and the introduction of flanking damage. You can also draft specialty “hero units” with unique abilities in combat and create new units such as radar, special forces, AWACS, and sniper units. To top it all off, the soundtrack for this game is killer (and available on the games website).
While I enjoyed this game and it’s military honor driven campaign, there were a few things that I found lacking or distracting. 1st. Was the lack of access to increase the game difficulty. The only way to change the difficulty of the enemy AI is to complete the campaign (which is nearly 6 hours of gameplay) and enter into “hard mode”. Even after doing so, the AI seemed lacking. Now I will say this as a full disclosure without trying to brag: It could be due to the fact that I played a LOT of Advanced Wars growing up and I have experience with this game. 2nd there was a lack of particular units that can really change the tide of the battle. Units such as armored APC’s, Transport helicopters, and ALL types naval units were missing from the game so the feeling of a complete military strategy game seemed to be lacking. 3rd. Was the game's current lack of multiplayer. While the game has announced that this feature will be available in the future, it is a real disappointment to not be able to play against another intelligent human being. 4th. The brevity of the campaign is overwhelming. While it was a decent story line, it seemed the cut scenes lasted longer than that of the gameplay in most cases and it feels as if the story was cut in half to meet production.
I really liked the idea of reinventing the turn based military strategy. I believe that with an addition of a multiplayer game type and possibly a few DLC’s this game could possibly replace the place that Advanced Wars holds in my heart. Yet in its current state, I can only give an honest rank of 6 out of 10 stars. I hope that the release of multiplayer content will increase my view of it by a couple of stars, but there are difficulties that may prevent this from coming any time soon. Unfortunately there is a lot of controversy surrounding the game because of an accusation made by a former employee that Area 35 misused funds from a different project. Ever since, the company has released a statement refuting these claims, but it seems a long battle in the Japanese court system is ahead of the team. Hopefully this will pass and Area 35 will be able to clear its name and reputation, but until then TINY METAL feels incomplete.