Tinker Island Game Review

Tinker Island is a free-to-play mobile game that puts players in control of a group of shipwreck survivors. Gather resources, improve skills, and explore the island to improve life for the castaways. There are many puzzles to uncover and monsters to fight, with regular time-limited events for extra puzzles and riddles.

Format: Android via Google Play
Cost: Free-to-Play
Pressure to Pay: Low, read below for details

A card representing Oliver the gardener is in the center of the screen. At the top is an option to fight a crab at a dune. To the right is an option to saw wood. To the bottom is an option to build a fighting arena. To the left is an option to gather stone.
Released by Tricky Tribe and Kongregate

Quick Overview

Major Pros:

  • Divide time however the player wishes, between exploration, resources, and uncovering stories and puzzles
Major Cons:

  • Timers get long without watching ads
Minor Pros:

  • Garden puzzles can be played without timers or resource to get new survivors
  • Time limited events, like special monster fights
Minor Cons:

  • Some of the adventure puzzles seem arbitrary or random
Logbook in Tinker Island. Displays the following text: There are crabs in the sand! You get Crabs! TIP: Animals and plants give food. You notice parts of the coast that are still unexplored. You find Coast.
Exploring the island is a main component of Tinker Island

In-depth Review

One of the things I enjoyed about Tinker Island was the ability to divide my time and resources however I wished. If I wanted to stop in and spend some resources and set my survivors buildings something, I could easily do that quickly. If instead I wanted to spend more time, explore a special area, and solve some puzzles, that was also an option. The greater time commitment of the puzzles can be put-off and skipped in many cases, if players want a faster experience.

Visual puzzle of animal tracks in a grid. The tracks are from different animals and pointed in different directions. One track has been replaced with a question mark and the text asks the player to decide what track should go there from 4 options.
Puzzles like this one can be found by exploring Tinker Island

Tinker Island also introduces a freeplay garden puzzle after a short ways into the story. It allows the player to play a simple geometric game of arranging seeds, sun, and water to grow flowers. No timers or resources are needed for playing the garden puzzle, making it ideal for spending time when waiting for other timers. Successful completion of levels provides bonus survivors, either permanent or one time use.

Grid of plants with either sun or raindrop symbols. Multi-space tiles of sun or rain must be placed over the grid to grow the plants without killing their neighbors.
Place multi-space tiles to grow plants without killing their neighbors

There are also time-limited events on the island. These mostly focus around fighting special monsters that show up randomly and drop special rewards. These rewards can be collected to create powerful tools and mechanical survivors. Drops seem pretty random though and the open windows are easy to miss.

An Imp on Tinker Island with 3.9K health, 2 attack, and 2 hours and 57 minutes left to defeat it.
Monsters like this Imp appear randomly on the map and can be defeated 3 times for rewards

I did find that some of the puzzles encountered in the main story seemed random. Most of them are simple enough and understandable, but a few seemed arbitrary in their answers, even when I showed them to friends. Some are also simply guess-and-check, requiring additional resources to guess again, but these were fairly minimal.

Logbook in Tinker Island with the following text displayed: The badget grinds its teeth in frustration and runs away. You have defeated the badger and can loot its lair. In the badger lair you find some mushrooms and a dead snake. That's an odd assortment of items. You get Mushrooms. You get Dead Snake.
Completing puzzles and fights as part of the story can give extra rewards

As I find to be typical of timer based games, the timers do tend to get long enough that using the ad based speed boosts seems advisable. The timer system is rather generous, reducing all timers based on a band. For example, all timers less than 10 minutes become 3 seconds, between 10 minutes and an hour becomes 5 minutes, etc. This was much more pleasant than other systems which require ad watching for each timer individually, especially when the colony of survivors grows in number and they may all be working on separate tasks.

Option to speed up progress timers on Tinker Island. Timers from 3 seconds to 10 minutes become 3 seconds. 10 minutes to 2 hours becomes 1 minute. 2 hours to 12 hours becomes 20 minutes. 12 hours to 36 hours becomes 1 hour. and 36 hours of more becomes 6 hours. The effect lasts 1 hour.
Gems are the premium currency of the game and can be used to speed up timers and get extra survivors

Recommendation

Overall I’ve enjoyed Tinker Island. I love collecting the survivors, playing through puzzles, and building up greater resources for my colony. Some of the puzzles did seem overly simple or random, but most were fun. Having the continuous garden puzzles to spend time on is also nice while waiting for timers and speeding up timers scales fairly well into the game. I recommend Tinker Island for players who enjoy resource management, exploration, and puzzles.

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