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Tools Up! Indie Video Game Review

Regular readers probably already know this but I have been a huge fan of cooperative video games since I was a kid. Growing up I loved playing couch co-op games with my brother. Couch co-op was a pretty popular feature in video games until online multiplayer put a serious damper on it. For quite a while it was hard to find good local co-op games until indie games started to bring the genre back. Overcooked! and its sequel are a big reason for this. While we have never reviewed Overcooked! on Geeky Hobbies we found it to be a fantastic co-op game where you had to work together with the other players to create meals quickly and deliver them before you ran out of time. I bring up Overcooked! because as soon as I saw Tools Up! it immediately reminded me of Overcooked!. From the game’s style to the cooperative gameplay Tools Up! basically looked like Overcooked! but with home renovation. As I loved Overcooked! I was really excited to try out Tools Up!. Tools Up! is a fun co-op experience that fans of the genre should really enjoy even if it lacks the polish of Overcooked!.

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank The Knights of Unity and All in! Games for the review copy of Tools Up! used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.

In Tools Up! you play as an employee of a home renovation company. Your company is hired to work on various homes in the neighborhood that need some work done. From walls that have to be repainted or wallpapered to floors that need to be carpeted or tiled, your company is tasked with renovating these homes. Your team is in a crunch though as you have to complete all of this in just a couple minutes. Can you complete all of the tasks in time while also avoiding the obstacles scattered around the house?

When you see a game like Tools Up! your mind is going to immediately lead you to the Overcooked! comparison. This is warranted as I see Tools Up! as Overcooked! with home renovation instead of cooking. At the beginning of each level you and your teammates arrive at a house. You will have a certain amount of time (usually around three to five minutes) in order to complete various tasks around the house which are outlined in the house’s blueprint. You consult the blueprint to see what walls and floors need to be changed. Your team then gets to work replacing the old walls and floors with the desired changes. While you are fixing the house you will have to deal with various obstacles including bulky items, slippery floors, and other things that make your job more difficult. You will also have to pick up various materials that are delivered to the house. After you complete the job you need to get your teammates and all of your materials out of the house before the timer runs out.

Local co-op games like Tools Up! are the type of games that work really well in groups because they are simple to play. This is the case for Tools Up! as well as the game is quite easy to play. The game only utilizes a few controls so it is really easy to pick up and play. The characters basically control how you would expect. The game also gives you a button that adds and removes flooring and wall decoration, a button that is used to pick up and put down items, and there is also a throw button. When you are holding the blueprint you can also use buttons to rotate the camera. That is all there is to the controls. This makes the game really easy to pick up where it may only take a minute or two for a new player to know what they are supposed to do.

Being a fan of these type of co-op games I was excited to try out Tools Up!. It is hard to beat a good co-op game as you have to work well with the other players in order to succeed. Ever since I played Overcooked! I have in particular really liked this genre of party co-op games where players have to complete various tasks together in a short amount of time. A while back I looked at Diner Bros which I enjoyed quite a bit even though it didn’t quite reach the levels of Overcooked!. I see Tools Up! in a similar boat. The game gives you everything that you would expect from this type of game. The game is quick and easy to play which makes it a great party game. The gameplay is satisfying and fun as the players have to work together in order to get all of the renovations done in time. People who like these type of party co-op games should have quite a bit of fun with Tools Up!.

At this point I would like to point out that Tools Up! is basically just a couch co-op game. Outside of using Steam’s remote play mode there is currently no way of playing the game online. Based on the Steam reviews I don’t think the remote play works that well so you should expect to play the game locally. I honestly don’t see this as a big problem as Tools Up! is one of those games that is meant to be played as a local multiplayer game. These type of games are just more enjoyable when you are sitting next to your co-op partners. I played the game couch co-op on PlayStation 4 and I had no issues with the game. I only really see this being an issue if you aren’t able to play the game with other people locally. You can play the game by yourself but it won’t be as much fun. Tools Up! is a game meant to be played with friends and family and you will miss out on that if you play it by yourself. Therefore to truly enjoy the game you need to have other players that you can play the game with locally.

As I have brought up Overcooked! quite a few times in this review already I thought it was important to compare the two games. The two games do share a lot in common. The gameplay is different in that one has you making various foods while the other has you doing home renovation. Despite this fact Tools Up! still tends to feel a lot like Overcooked!. People who enjoyed Overcooked! should enjoy Tools Up! as it still contains that fun cooperative experience where players have to work together in order to succeed. Outside of the themes I would say there are two main differences between Tools Up! and Overcooked!.

Probably the biggest difference between the two games is that Tools Up! feels less chaotic than Overcooked!. While Tools Up! still features obstacles that you have to overcome, they don’t seem to get in your way as much as some of the obstacles from Overcooked!. I really liked Overcooked! but some of the obstacles that you have to overcome could be a little frustrating where you need some luck on your side if you want a chance of perfecting a level. The obstacles in Tools Up! can mess with you as well but they are easier to avoid or mitigate where you don’t have to worry about an obstacle preventing you from getting three stars. I think players will have mixed feelings about this. If you found the obstacles to be more frustrating than fun you will probably like this change. If you liked the chaos they added though you may be a little disappointed.

The other main difference between the two games is that it just doesn’t feel like Tools Up! has quite as many mechanics as Overcooked!. For the most part in Tools Up! you are just removing the previous wall and floor covering and replacing them with replacement material. Along the way there are a couple additional mechanics introduced where you may have to take a couple steps to add the new material. That is basically all the game boils down to though. In Overcooked! there was different ways to cook ingredients as well as different recipes that you had to complete. It just felt like there was more variety in Overcooked!. Tools Up! is still a fun game but it becomes repetitive a little quicker than Overcooked!.

Ultimately I enjoyed my time with Tools Up!, but it wasn’t quite as good as Overcooked!. I found Tools Up! to be a small step down from Overcooked!. This is due to a couple reasons. First while the gameplay is fun, it wasn’t quite as satisfying as the gameplay in Overcooked!. That would have been hard to do though as Overcooked! is a great game. Mostly this was due to there not being quite as much variety to the gameplay. The other issue with Tools Up! is that it just lacks some of the polish of Overcooked!.

I would say that the biggest problem that I had with Tools Up! has to deal with the controls. As I mentioned earlier the controls are pretty simple which works for this type of game. The problem with the controls is that they don’t always work as well as they should. Most of the gameplay involves interacting with items that you can pick up or put down as well as adding or removing things from the floors and walls . The problem is that the game’s detection of nearby objects, floors and walls is not always as good as it should be. You could be standing in what seems like a valid position to interact with an item, wall, or floor and the game won’t recognize it. In order to interact with it you will need to reposition yourself slightly in order to be in a position that the game will recognize and allow you to take the corresponding action. As you play the game you start to adjust to this. This can be kind of frustrating at times though. Usually it will just waste some of your time which can be critical if you are tight against the clock. This can also lead to creating trash on the ground which you will then have to pick up. I just wish the game could slightly tweak the controls to improve the detection as it would make the game quite a bit more enjoyable.

This was probably a design choice but I wish the camera angles in the game were a little better. Most of the time it works fine as you can usually deal with the walls and floor tiles that you can’t see as long as you can remember which you have already dealt with. The problem with the camera in the game is that it is set at a fixed angle. The only way to change it is to use the blueprint which lets you rotate the camera 90 degrees. This adds another mechanic to the game as you have to reference the blueprint to change the camera angle in addition to seeing what work you have to do. With four players this might not be a bad idea as you have more free players where you can spare one to use the blueprint to rotate the camera. With two players this felt like more of a nuisance than anything else. Basically we tried to avoid rotating the camera if possible. I kind of wish the game would have just let you rotate the camera without having to use the blueprint.

The final complaint that I have with Tools Up! is that it is on the easy side. Tools Up! adjusts the difficulty based on the number of players. When you play with more players you will get less time to complete the renovation. I ended up playing the game with just two players and I didn’t find many of the levels to be all that challenging. I am usually pretty good at these type of games but rarely did we end up getting less than three stars on a level. When we failed to get three stars we could quickly go back into the level and easily get three stars on our next attempt. While playing with more players gives you less time, you don’t seem to get a lot less time with four players versus two players. Having two additional players should easily offset the little less time you have to complete the job. Therefore I fear that the game will be pretty easy for most people unless players regularly get in each others way. The easy difficulty leads to the game being on the shorter side. I would say that most levels give you around a 3-5 minute timer. You may not be able to three star each level on your first attempt but should be able to for most of the levels. This leads to you being able to beat the story mode pretty quickly as I would guess that it would take most people around four hours to beat it. The party mode adds a little gameplay but I wish the game was a little longer.

While Tools Up! doesn’t quite live up to Overcooked!’s high expectations, I still had a lot of fun with the game. Basically the game is what you would get if you took Overcooked! and turned it into a home renovation game. You and the other players must work together to renovate rooms by changing the flooring and walls within a tight time frame. The gameplay is surprisingly simple as the game only utilizes a couple buttons. This allows players to quickly jump in and out of the game and know what they are supposed to do. The gameplay is quite satisfying as well. People who like these type of party co-op games should have quite a bit of fun with Tools Up!. Tools Up! may be a little less chaotic than Overcooked! but it also seems to have a little less variety in the gameplay. The biggest issue I had with the game is that the controls could use a little work as it is kind of hard to interact with certain items unless you are in a very specific position. The game also seems kind of easy leading to the game’s story mode being on the shorter side.

If you don’t really have anyone else to play the game with locally or you have never really liked these type of party co-op games I don’t think Tools Up! will be for you. Fans of this genre should get quite a bit of enjoyment out of the game though. For this reason I would recommend picking up Tools Up!.

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