Tools Up! Review
Don your hardhats, grab your tool belt, there are renovations to be done! Tools Up! is a chaotic couch co-op game that’ll test your patience, and could even ruin friendships. None of that matters when the residences of a strange apartment building need your help to replace the carpeting and do some painting.
Tools Up! is developed by The Knights of Unity, a small indie studio in Poland. Their latest game takes a lot of cues from Ghost Town Games’ Overcooked! series. Tools Up! borrows the core concept of doing labour intensive jobs while under the pressures of a clock. Fans of Overcooked! (like myself) can find themselves at home, with its simplistic control scheme and adorable avatars. However, Tools Up! never truly reaches the highs of the games it pays homage to.
There’s a satisfying feeling you get when you roll up your sleeves and begin laying tiles, removing wallpaper, and systematically renovating a small apartment unit. While you can play through the 30-levels on your own, Tools Up! serves as a blisteringly enjoyable co-op experience. It’s night and day when it comes to the amount of fun you’ll have playing by yourself versus getting a group together.
To lock down a three-star rating, you’ll have to coordinate with your teammates and race against the clock and complete all assigned tasks before time runs out. As you burst into each unit, you’ll grab a set of blueprints that will outline all your required menial tasks. This could range from painting a series of walls to laying cement and new flooring. Communication is key as the apartments and corridors aren’t nearly big enough for you all to scramble though at the same time.
To make matters worse, you have to clean up after yourselves afterwards. Paint cans can tip over, and doors can be accidentally kicked down. As you progress, environments will create messes for you, so keeping on top of all your tasks and doing a thorough clean can be easier said than done. Tools Up! knows exactly what it is, which means the game never takes itself seriously. Walk over a puddle, and I found myself taking a spill, dropping whatever was in my hands. It’s chaos incarnate and if you’re a completionist, every second counts if you want those three stars.
While the game does ramp up its difficulty, through environment changes and throwing small hurdles in your path, it never has the creative focus of something like an Overcooked! There are small drips and drabs and concepts thrown in which signal that The Knights of Unity are on to something, but the execution just wasn’t there.
While Tools Up! can be a delightful party game, there are some frustrations that come along with the territory. The game offers very little assistance in terms of a tutorial or outlining new tasks. Sure, one player can grab a hold of the blueprints and see that the kitchen needs new tiles. To do so, you’ll rip up the old floor, make cement in a bucket, lay cement, and then finally place the new tiles down. However, you’ll have to learn that process yourself. I eventually got a hang of things as I progressed, but those first few levels were a bit daunting as the game drops you in without any instructions.
There’s also a few quality of life issues that drags the game down. The critical one is the blueprint. While it does add a bit of complexity to the game, having the ability to rotate the camera only when holding the blueprints only interferes with the momentum of the gameplay. The other is the naming conventions to some of the rooms. For example, on one level, the blueprints indicated the living room needed new carpets. After scrambling through the level, low and behold, the “living room” was actually the rear patio.
Thankfully, all levels can be done in a relatively short amount of time. Tools Up! can be fairly accessible, due to the simple control schemes. Once my group and I got the hang of the mechanics, the game was able to hold our attention, even though its a game centred around the completion of repetitive tasks.
Tools Up! is a fun, frenzied couch co-op game that tests your mettle through the completion of laborious tasks, with a smattering of cartoon hijinx thrown in for good measure. If you’re hungry for an accessible, laid back party game to sink your teeth into, Tools Up! has what you need.
If you’re looking for something with a little more bite, you may find that the game fails to live up to its predecessors. If The Knights of Unity choose to revisit the series, the foundation has been laid out for a worthy sequel.
Available: December 3rd, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
A code for Tools Up! was provided on Xbox One for review purposes.