Playing Tamarin is definitely an experience, but it isn’t a good one. From the earliest moments of gameplay, you are in for something most unique. As I played, I felt like everyone was in on some joke that I couldn’t understand and I was left feeling awkward and confused during every moment of gameplay. Maybe it was the strange voiceover that comes out of nowhere, the ants that carry guns, or the lack of any real narrative outside of a 2-minute opening, but this game has me completely baffled as to why it even exists.
Tamarin begins with a happy family of monkies being separated after gun-wielding ants invade their home. So right away you’ll know something is strange because not only do the monkies simply run off in different directions, causing you to go find them, but the ants just burn down your house and then leave. So, realistically, the monkies got themselves in this situation for separating in the first place and not sticking together.
So, this first area is what I’d like to call the HUB world, and it’s on fire, you’ll follow a bug who leads you to a stage where you can progress the game. However, here you realize that this isn’t an action platformer. No, it’s a third-person shooter and your monkey is given a gun to shoot the invading ants. There’s nothing really special about this monkey either from what I can tell, he’s just a regular animal, but somehow he Rambos his way into an enemy camp and kills everything in his path.
There’s supposed to be a lock-on feature for these shooting levels too, but it only seems to work for enemies on top of structures. It’s a constant battle to shoot these ants, but luckily, they are pretty unintelligent and will just run around mindlessly and sometimes take shots at you. Incidentally, the auto-aim features seem to work perfectly on these little birds that you’re meant to collect, but can still kill by accident.
This isn’t even the strangest part of this game. Once you have a gun, you lose mobility options for some weird reason. You can roll or double jump, but once you are given a gun, you can’t do either of these. Sadly, you can’t even unequip the gun. This means that if you run out of ammo, which is extremely hard to do in the first place, you’re pretty much left for dead. Throughout the game, you get other guns that can be used to unlock doors and take down enemies, but it will never not be weird playing as a monkey and shooting insects.
Throughout the game, you gain access to new abilities, but if you expect these to be given to you by bosses, well you’d be wrong. Instead, you purchase them from a mole-thing using collectible items found across the map. Who is this mole? Who cares, for some reason he just wants to give you things to kill ants and progress the narrative.
The funniest moments of the game are that their is no dialogue and then just randomly a voice appears from the heavens to tell you about shooting and the ants. It is simply incredible and the fact that you never hear the voice again is even better. Although I should say that the voice may appear, but I skipped the cutscenes after the first couple of hours because they would sometimes crash my game.
Playing Tamarin comes with a lot of asking the question “Why?” Why did the developer chose to enlarge insects to be the baddies and not humans who are destroying the environment? Why did I walk into a level that featured all the ants dancing in an industrial building? Why am I shooting a rocket launcher? Why am I even playing this? And so much more.
If you thought there were boss battles to conclude stages, you’d be wrong again because these levels just randomly end most of the time without context. It’s almost insane how this passed any quality checks. Did nobody question these strange design choices during development?
The graphics are disturbing. With games like Super Lucky’s Tale dominating the classing 3D platformer genre, I wished this team took a hint that they were going in the wrong direction here. Sometimes Tamarin looked like a blurry ball of fuzz. Furthermore, the environments are just copied and pasted layouts with maze-like elements and no cohesive structure.
If that wasn’t bad enough the soundtrack just hurts. It’s terrible and often cuts in and out during areas. It never seems to fit the situation and makes the entire experience feel weird. I wish the controls were good here, but the camera control is almost laughable. Still, the jumping and attack mechanics do feel responsive most of the time, but at this point, I’m reaching to find anything good about this game.
I think the worst part about this game, is that the developers are charging $39.99. I’d understand if it was a $14.99 experience, but it feels like they are just trying to put this out and gain back any funds that they can with a low number of sales. For that, I don’t think it’s worth your time or your money.
Something went terribly wrong with the development of Tamarin. Nothing works and everything comes off like it was slapped together causing this entire adventure to feel like a random and confusing mess. Still, if you’re trying to experience one of the most bonkers 3D platformers ever developed, you found it, but I urge you not to put your money into this game.
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