Tin Hearts – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle game
Developer: Rogue Sun
Publisher: Wired Productions
Platform: Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: PC

Tin Hearts – Review

Site Score
Good: Wonderful OST
Bad: Tutorial stages drag things out far too long
User Score
(1 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

After a month of Switch exclusivity, publisher Wired Productions is finally bringing Rogue Sun’s highly anticipated puzzle title Tin Hearts to other platforms. The name Rogue Sun might not ring a bell, as this is the indie studio’s debut title, so they haven’t quite proven their worth yet. However, the track record of the individual developers that worked on Tin Hearts certainly raises expectations. The individuals behind Rogue Sun are former employees of Lionhead Studios, best known for Fable and Black & White. We were more than eager to find out what Tin Hearts had to offer, so we took the game for a spin.


A surprisingly story-driven affair, Tin Hearts introduces us to Albert J. Butterworth, an extremely talented toy maker, and his family business. Set in Albert’s workshop during Victorian times, the story is built around Albert reminiscing about his attempts trying to balance his passion for his job with his family life. Told through short cutscenes, letters between family members, and background details, a bittersweet story unfolds as you progress through Tin Hearts. Without delving into spoiler territory, the story was a driving force that kept us pushing forward. We do recommend having tissues nearby as Tin Hearts definitely tugged at our heartstrings. That said, we did feel like there was some disconnect between the story and the actual gameplay. The player steps into the shoes of Albert himself, who is manifested as a ghostly apparition of sorts, and it’s not always easy to figure out what takes place in the past and what happens in present times.


While Tin Hearts boasts fairly simplistic visuals, this actually felt fitting, even if the models for the Butterworth family themselves didn’t quite meet our expectations. The heartwarming storybook atmosphere exuded by the story is further emphasized by the game’s art design. Antique toys already carry a certain charm and Tin Hearts pushes this up to eleven, presenting itself as a sugary sweet throwback to better times. Even stage hazards like Jack-in-the-box looks like he belongs on an antique cookie tin. Art direction aside, there was one minor visual issue that we ran into during our time with Tin Hearts, and that had to do with the game’s camera. For the most part, it worked fine but there were a handful of times where it seemed to work against us. In some of the more complex levels, it was difficult to achieve the right angle to see perfectly what we were doing. While this didn’t ruin our overall enjoyment of the game, it’s enough of an issue to warrant mentioning here. Hopefully, this is something that is fixed in the near future.


In-game, Tin Hearts’ music is credited to Helen, Albert’s wife, but in real life, the man behind the melancholic soundtrack is Matthew Chastney. Chastney imbues a sense of bittersweetness and underlying darkness into the nostalgic tunes, making Tin Hearts’ OST a marvel. The story also features voice acting at key moments, and although the writing doesn’t particularly stand out, the cast does an admirable job with the delivery of their lines. Rounding things out are environmental and ambient sound effects that neither stand out nor annoy.


Sometimes, a game doesn’t need anything more than a simple concept executed well. Tin Hearts is one of those games. Players are tasked with guiding clockwork soldiers to the exit of each level, by interacting with the environment and manipulating the pathways. The puzzles are well-designed, often requiring players to think and plan ahead. There is something satisfying about seeing a carefully set up chain reaction unfold itself. Simple solutions occasionally require surprisingly elaborate set-ups, and many of the late-stage levels become lengthy affairs that will knock even hardcore puzzle fanatics for a loop. While players don’t directly control the toy soldiers, with a single exception, they still have an impressive toolkit at their disposal, ranging from placeable blocks to balloons that are used to float your tiny automatons across gaps.

During the first hour or so, Tin Hearts fails to impress. This is because the opening stages act as tutorials, which makes sense, but the game lingers far too long on these. The drip-feeding of new mechanics feels almost agonizingly slow. It’s likely that the poor pacing of the game’s first act is going to turn off many players. That’s a shame because at a certain point, things start to open up and Tin Hearts turns from an outright boring experience into one of the most engaging and clever executions of its gameplay concept that we’ve seen in recent times. That’s not to say that Tin Hearts’ latter half is flawless, but there is a noticeable difference between those opening stages and when the game takes off the training wheels. There are a handful of mechanics here that could use some tweaking because there is too much margin for error, including a rewind feature and shoddy jumping physics. That being said, Tin Hearts offers a well-balanced and satisfying gameplay loop that is only dragged down by the poor first-half pacing.

With over fifty levels, and a lot of trial-and-error as you figure out how to get your toy soldiers to safety, you’re looking at a significant chunk of time if you are going to see this through to the end. Despite Tin Hearts being a time sink, we’d refrain from calling it a difficult game, because although the puzzles can be challenging, the game does a lot to accommodate players and make things as enjoyable as possible. If you make a mistake, you can use that aforementioned rewind feature, although rewinding at the wrong moment might see you having to restart the level anyway. Other player-friendly mechanics are a bit more forgiving. For example, you can pause the game so that you can rethink what is about to happen, and make adjustments to the stages accordingly, and there is also a fast-forward button that prevents you from having to wait around. It all adds up to a game that feels accessible, yet satisfying and rewarding to play, despite having a handful of rough edges here and there.


A slow burn in more than one regard, Tin Hearts offers a satisfying puzzle experience backed by a heartwarming story. There are a handful of minor blips that prevent the game from reaching its full potential, with the most egregious offender being the poor pacing in the game’s first half. While we don’t see that being fixed any time soon, we imagine that the other smaller issues we mentioned in our review could be fixed over time. Either way, Tin Hearts is worth a look at if you’re looking to get your puzzle fix.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Tin Hearts - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

1 Comment

  1. 3rd-strike.com | New VR trailer for Tin Hearts
    June 15, 2023, 22:50

    […] Rogue Sun released a new trailer for their critically acclaimed narrative puzzle adventure Tin Hearts. In this trailer, we see all new VR gameplay for the game’s upcoming release to PC VR, PS VR2 […]

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