A Tiny Sticker Tale is a Casual Puzzle game releasing on the PC and Switch on the 4th October 2023. Developed and published by Ogre Pixel, a six-person indie studio based in México.
Combining charming art, cute characters, and a well-realised central sticker mechanic to create a short, though sweet, experience, A Tiny Sticker Tale is perfect for gamers looking for a cosy time in front of the screen, if a bit short.
A Tiny Sticker Tale – A game with a-peel!
Ogre Pixel’s latest effort caused a stir on Kickstarter, finding itself fully-funded within two hours! By the end of the campaign, A Tiny Sticker Tale had over 700% of it’s original target, and had found it’s way onto Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love” page. So I was more than interested to take a closer look!
Our journey begins with our protagonist, Flynn the Donkey, arriving on Figori Island. A strange place, he arrives with only his trusty sticker album at his side. A sticker album that, as his boat drifts closer to shore, begins to glow with magical power!
With his newfound abilities to use magical stickers, he sets out to find his father somewhere on the island, helping people and finding secrets along the way.
Getting Stuck In
A Tiny Sticker Tale’s central mechanic is the use of the Flynn’s magic sticker album. On Figori Island, he can pick up and move the many stickers that make up the island’s various locations. This can be used to move crates that block your path, cut down path-blocking vines, and weigh down buttons. You can even just use it to rearrange the trees to a more aesthetically pleasing arrangement.
But the real depth of the system becomes clear when you grab these stickers and pop them into Flynn’s album. This allows you to take these items across the island, using them to solve puzzles in ingenious ways. Often this sets off chains of sticker-shuffling as each solve gives you solutions to puzzles you spotted on your travels. A great example comes not too long into the game, as you plant new trees for a gerbil who wants to relax in the shade. Doing this gives you a handsaw that you can return to a boar carpenter, who in turn gives you a bridge you can pick up and use across the island to cross otherwise impassable rivers.
This ability to take stickers across the map opens the possibilities for puzzles. It can create moments of real satisfaction as you check your album for the perfect sticker you saved ‘just in case’ and use it to solve a puzzle as soon as you find it!
The game leans into creating those experiences with the inclusion of the Tent. A Kickstarter stretch goal seamlessly integrated into the gameplay, The Tent serves as a versatile customisable space. Players can store their stickers inside, or just decorate it with furniture, adding a touch of personalisation to the game. In my playthrough I mostly used the tent as a trophy room for my favourite stickers, though I did end up personalising it more in my search for secrets.
Navigating through the world, players will encounter a responsive environment filled with adorable characters. The game doesn’t heavily emphasize storytelling, instead introducing its central narrative through letters from Flynn’s father. Most characters you meet have something to say – sometimes clues, sometimes just little titbits to fill the world. However, there are moments where localisation feels slightly clunky. Sometimes the dialogue can feel wooden, and the UI text written oddly, but this doesn’t break your flow too badly.
Sections and Secrets
The same cannot be said for the moments where the game’s Kickstarter origins occasionally peek through. Unlike the Tent, the map sections added after stretch goals (the Swamp and Desert) can feel somewhat tacked on. These are the final areas, and though they’re good areas with fun puzzles, they’re not as cohesive as earlier sections. It’s not a huge deal – in fact the Desert area of the game is where I had one of my favourite moments – but it does bear mentioning.
Throughout the game, you’ll discover a fair share of puzzles and secrets hidden within its colourful world. The sticker collection system lets you track your progress, as well as find stickers you’ve found before on the map. This helps provide a tangible sense of accomplishment as you gather new stickers and uncover statues commemorating your achievements.
Overall, the gameplay in A Tiny Sticker Tale is simple, but with depth if you want to explore it. Most puzzles are approachable, making the game suitable for players of all ages, particularly kids. Although some puzzles offer a pleasant challenge that might require a few moments of contemplation. Secrets are scattered generously throughout the game, and the methods to access them are inventive and engaging. While there are a few instances of ‘adventure game logic,’ they are rare, and never too frustrating. However, occasional translation issues can disrupt the flow of the experience, bring players out of the flow state a great puzzle game tries to create – a problem also seen with the less-smooth transition to the game’s later areas.
Graphics & Audio
A Tiny Sticker Tale’s got buckets of charm, all thanks to a fantastically cute presentation that matches it’s puckish concept.
The game’s overall art-style is well chosen, with painterly backgrounds playing host to cartoon moving parts. Packed with character, it feels almost as though you are playing between the pages of children’s picture book. The characters themselves are well-realised, each having a distinct personality that comes across in their design – of particular note is the excellently dressed Turtle violinist.
The game’s UI is married well to the cosy and relaxed gameplay too. You are never fully removed from the game’s central screen, as all menus are overplayed on top of the game world. Except for the intro and ending cinematic, you could play the entire game without losing sight of Figori Island!
The music is as charming as the visuals, with simple comfy melodies that get you into the puzzle solving zone. Adding to the fun, the soundtrack is reactive, with different tracks for sunrise, daytime, sunset, and night time. These variations all cohesively sound like the same track at the core, but give out different vibes. It put me very much in mind of the Animal Crossing soundtracks, with an equally smile-inducing effect.
The sound effects are well balanced to the gameplay, blending into the greater world and not taking you out of the groove at all. Of particular note is the excellent sound design, matched with an oh-so-satisfying animation, for peeling and sticking down stickers. Ogre Pixel knew this was the main thing players would be doing, and it shows – it somehow feels tactile despite just being sound.
Play Modes and Performance
I played A Tiny Sticker Tale on the Switch, though a Steam version is also available. But on reflection, a handheld Nintendo system feels like the ‘correct’ place to play this game. Something about the cosy nature of the game itself and the ability to curl up on the sofa matched like Sunday mornings and lie-ins.
The game is admittedly simple, so you would expect a smooth experience when it comes to performance, and that’s delivered. In my time with the game, I experienced no slow down, no dropped frames, and no stutter at all. The transitions between screens was smooth as silk, and even when I stuffed a single screen full of as many stickers as I could, the game played on.
True to it’s name, A Tiny Sticker Tale is not the longest game, to be blunt. Clocking in at around 2 hours to beat the ‘main story’, and 4 hours to see all the game has to offer, it’s rather short. But that’s intentional – and commensurate with the game’s price.
Ogre Pixel describe the game as a ‘miniature adventure’, and that short-by-design philosophy does come across. Flynn’s journey is well-paced, and doesn’t stretch itself too thin, leaving players with a contentment rather than eye-rolling exasperation.
Much like many other puzzle games – especially good ones – A Tiny Sticker Tale suffers from the problem of low re-playability. Once a puzzle’s solved, it’s hard to forget the solution, and any subsequent playthrough will be the lesser for it. It’s a good problem to have; I’m still thinking of “A-ha!” moments I had with the game days later! Although that does mean I can’t play it again any time soon.
A Tiny Sticker Tale lives up to it’s name, with a short and sweet adventure I enjoyed my time with. The puzzles, whilst not too taxing, are still satisfying to solve, but the localisation can be a bit ropey at times, with clunky writing in places.
The central mechanic bears the game’s weight well, remaining novel through to the final minutes, where a longer game might have overstayed it’s welcome. Though I would’ve liked a little more cohesion between the game’s later stages, the world and characters have thoroughly charmed me – A Tiny Sticker Tale can add the Thumb Culture Silver Award to it’s sticker collection!
If you’re looking for something a bit slower, but with no less action, why not check out Tyler’s Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp review here? In the mean-time, keep an eye out for more features on great indie games right here on Thumb Culture!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.