Xbox Indie Spotlight: Tin Hearts

Tin Hearts, a story-rich puzzle adventure game, is on the way to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One later this year. Check out what we learned when chatting to developer Rogue Sun’s managing director Kostas Zarifis!

What is Tin Hearts?

Tin Hearts is a story-rich puzzle adventure game set in an alternate-timeline version of a Victorian universe. It’s in development from Rogue Sun and is published by Wired Productions.

When does Tin Hearts launch?

We don’t yet have a launch date for Tin Hearts, although the Tin Hearts site says it’s coming this winter. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes peeled.

tin hearts release date

What’s it about?

The story of Tin Hearts revolves around that of Victorian inventor Albert J. Butterworth. The story promises to be “deeply emotional,” so be prepared! It will also apparently span both generations and dimensions. Intrigued? So are we. “We often describe Tin Hearts as ‘Lemmings meets A Christmas Carol’,” Zarifis explains. “Similarly to the Charles Dickens classic, the player embodies a sort of amnesiac ghost which flows through these mysterious rooms guiding these little toy soldiers from one door to the next. For someone who doesn’t know anything about the game it may actually seem at first as if there is no story at all and it’s just a pure puzzle game. There’s a lot of environmental storytelling in the game so players who enjoy that sort of thing will actually pick up on the story pretty quickly, but for others it might come as a mid-game surprise,” Zarifis continues. “By the late game we’re hoping everyone will be very invested in the characters though. The main vehicles for narrative delivery are environmental storytelling as I said above, narrated letters which you discover along the way and cutscenes which like I said kick in a bit later down the line. However, the gameplay itself is another major vehicle as we’ve poured a lot of effort in ensuring the story and mechanics operate in service of each other as opposed to competing with each other.”

tin hearts release date

Later, Zarifis adds, “As we had landed on a mechanic we enjoyed, we then wanted to find a narrative that worked well with it. We thought about what these cute little things that you were guiding along should be and the idea of little clockwork toy soldiers was gaining popularity among the team. Our Art Director went away and built one of these characters and we all fell in love with it instantly,” Zarifis continues. “The entire narrative and world of the game then really organically emerged around this one iconic character and by trying to answer questions about who its creator could be and what his life could be about.”

See also  Forced-scroll platformer Running on Magic announced for PS5, Xbox Series, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC

How does Tin Hearts play?

In Tin Hearts, we guide our soldiers through the world by making use of the various contraptions we come across. “The way the soldiers navigate the world is very simple actually: if they hit an angled surface, they deflect in that direction,” Zarifis explains. “That’s it. But the game, across its four Acts, does all kinds of interesting things with that concept. Pretty early on you unlock toy drums that act as trampolines, bouncing the soldiers to literal new heights. There’s balloon machines that create balloons for them to glide with, and toy pinwheels that can change their direction when in flight. And I’ll try not to spoil the later chapters when things take a turn for the steampunk,” Zarifis hints.

tin hearts release date

What’s the world like?

Tin Hearts is set in an alternate-timeline version of a Victorian universe. “So the entire world and narrative for Tin Hearts actually expanded out of our exploration of the core mechanic,” Zarifis says. “Tin Hearts actually started as a VR game and at the time of its conception we wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before in that space, but also something that would have a core mechanic that we could quickly prove would be fun. As we were prototyping different ideas we discovered that playing around with things of a tiny scale inside a VR space had a strange sense of magic to it. Combining this attribute of VR with a proven core mechanic was what led initially to the concept of Tin Hearts.”

“We tried to make sure that gameplay, story, but also world building worked completely in tandem in Tin Hearts,” Zarifis explains. We start off in the Attic Workshop World, where, Zarifis tells us, “everything is lovingly hand crafted and there’s lots of warm tones, wooden materials and a generally nostalgic feel (the art team watched a lot of classic Disney animations when building these environments).” Later, we move to the House World, “where more everyday objects start to feature in the world (and the puzzle solving!). Through these objects and rooms we learn yet more details about the characters of the story. As for the Steampunk Workshop,” Zarifis concludes, “we’re trying to keep that as much of a mystery as possible leading up to launch.”

tin hearts release date

Any news on the Tin Hearts achievements?

We don’t yet have the Tin Hearts achievements — “We’re actually still designing them for the later parts of the game, so… if you have any suggestions I am all ears,” jokes Zarifis. “In general with achievements we try to follow a similar approach to what I said before: keep it varied, keep it rewarding. So you won’t necessarily see many ‘oh, you did the X thing Y times’ sort of achievements in Tin Hearts. But there are quite a few Easter Eggy type things that you may discover just organically or by just going ‘I wonder what would happen if I did this thing,’” Zarifis continues. “The achievements in Tin Hearts are more the ‘oh… I see what you did there’ type and less of the ‘yes! freaking finally!’ type, although of course there’s merit in both.”

See also  Das PSP-Spiel Super Stardust Portable wird PS Plus Premium hinzugefügt

Tin Hearts seems to be made up of a multitude of elements — what, out of everything that makes up Tin Hearts, is Zarifis most excited for players to experience? “Really with Tin Hearts we tried to create an experience that’s sort of… ever changing I guess?” Zarifis responds. “We want people to come to it for the chill atmosphere, the clever puzzles, the beautiful visuals and music… but we want people to keep coming back because, just when they thought they knew what the game was about, it actually threw them this new mechanic or twist and now ‘This Changes Everything™’. Some of my favourite games have been like that and we’ve aspired to maintain this quality with Tin Hearts. It does mean a lot of extra work for us,” Zarifis jokes, “but it’s worth it in my opinion.”

What do you think? Will you be setting out on a puzzling adventure when Tin Hearts launches for Xbox? Let us know in the comments!