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
Pressure to Pay: Low, read below for details
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.