by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Anyone who has renovated a house - or even a room in a house - knows that it can be a messy job. And for most people it can be a time consuming and often expensive affair. Renovation shows such as The Block and Property Brothers frequently make things look easy, regularly completing complex makeovers in the space of an hour-long episode. It can often get hectic, with workers rushing around tying to get everything completed in the allotted timeframe though.
Tools Up! tries to recreate some of this mayhem. The game places players in the role of a renovation crew and with up to four players, teams are tasked with completing a series of renovation tasks in a house. Tasks include removing old wallpaper, laying floorboards and carpet, rendering walls, and painting and wallpapering. Of course, when the job is completed, teams must clean up their mess and leave the premises looking brand new. All this while beating the clock.
It is a simple premise, but one which works well. Each level has a set of blueprints that indicate the work that needs to be done. Whereas in co-op games such as Overcooked where customers order as the round progresses, these blueprints indicate everything that needs to be done right from the outset. Teams must take note of the tasks required, as sometimes there is equipment provided that does not need to be used. In one level, wallpaper and glue were provided in a room that only needed to be re-painted. The blueprints also indicate the colour scheme required for each room. Not completing any of the tasks correctly or leaving equipment inside a completed job will result in a lower score, or indeed a failure.
No time to waste
Time is of the essence in each mission though. Some tasks require two or more steps to complete and this needs to be considered. Some tasks - such as concreting a floor - will require items to dry before the next task can be completed, whilst other tasks such as gluing wallpaper will require one step to be completed immediately after another. If the glue dries before the new wallpaper is attached, the wall will require another coat of glue to be smeared before the wallpaper can be applied.
Many of the levels will have the required renovation supplies available at the beginning of the mission, but some will only have limited stock to start with. On these occasions, a delivery man will arrive at the front door with an item. If this is not collected, he will eventually come back again, but it can mean that players could be standing around doing nothing whilst they await his return. One level even has items that floating in a swimming pool and need to be retrieved. The swimming pool is somewhat of a hazard though, as are slippery marble floors. If players arenít careful, they can knock over paint, or rubbish which will also create a hazard, resulting on players falling over until the mess is cleaned.
The newly added Time Attack mode also adds a new twist to the game. Levels are similar, but instead of scoring points, completing tasks will add time onto the clock, whilst fumbling and falling will remove time. So, in the Time Attack mode, it pays to be a tad more careful with placement of your equipment than you may otherwise do in the standard mode. Knocking over a tin of paint will not only mean that time is wasted cleaning it up but falling over in the process will also take time off the clock.
Can we fix it?
Visually, Tools Up! has a cartoonish vibe, with characters dressed in overalls and hardhats looking like Bob the Builder wannabes. The houses are primarily blocky, with carpet, floorboards and tiles laid in a grid. Both the floor and walls that require renovation will be highlighted when hovered over, as are the hardware items. This certainly helps with the objects, as they can often be sitting hidden behind a wall. The floorplan can be rotated to find unfinished areas, although this can get disorientating for teammates if you donít warn them first.
The co-op nature of Tools Up! and the cheery, colourful, cartoonish graphics give the game a fun atmosphere. The simple controls and gameplay add to this, allowing Tools Up! to be played by gamers of all ages and abilities. The game can be played with both a controller or a keyboard. Each works equally well, so it is simply a matter of choosing which suits the player more. The different levels Ė thirty in all Ė provide for enough variation to keep the game enjoyable throughout. And like games such as Overcooked, there will be plenty of screaming at each other to make sure tasks get completed in a timely mannerÖmuch like those home renovation shows on TV.
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Great co-op, vibrant visuals
Camera can be a nuisance