PC, Mac, Linux, Switch
A Tiny Sticker Tale is an adorable little game, in which much of the game’s cartoon elements – people, scenery, furniture – can be peeled from the scene and put in a sticker book, then applied elsewhere in the game. Which, yes, is a brilliant idea!
It’s that age-old tale of a donkey with a magic sticker book on a quest to find his father. Although, if this super-sweet, super-fun game has one significant flaw, it’s that it doesn’t have a start. I’m all too used to games with no ending, but it’s a rarer thing to find one with no beginning. Instead, your cute little donkey character arrives at an island, upon which what you later learn is a sticker book twinkles with magic, and then some random rabbit burbles at you that you can move items like stickers.
Talk to her again and she informs you of your goal to find your father, which is just plain strange. It’s such a shame it didn’t just establish this in the brief intro, and indeed allow the sticker magic to be a revelation, rather than an instruction delivered at you before there’s even a hello. But this gotten over, the rest of the game delivers all manner of loveliness.
The core concept, of being able to move items around the screen, and have them sproing back into “life” in their new spot, is a joy. Just moving a tree and seeing it become a sticker, then planting it back into the ground as a part of the background, is enough to entertain me. Not everything can be moved, but you quickly get used to the unspoken rules and an instinct for what you’ll be able to grab. However, this is not an innovative brain-bending puzzle game in which you must think of esoteric uses for carefully applied stickers. You can pick up a bridge, and use it somewhere else as a bridge. It’s that sort of thing.
However, what’s much more interesting is picking up characters and moving them to different locations, where they can interact with obstacles in the right conditions. At some point in the game, you’ll also be able to drop a sun or moon sticker into every scene, switching the time of day appropriately, sometimes to solve puzzles, but mostly to enjoy the changes.
The core story here is fairly simple to get through – this is a game about enjoying yourself like a kid with some Fuzzy Felt, rather than something designed to be more taxing. But it’s all embellished with so much detail! Once I finished the story, which is achingly predictable but still nice enough, I still had so much more to do. There’s a sticker album which indicates how many items and characters you’ve yet to find, and lots of other side goals to complete.
This is all so pleasingly low-key, but there’s a lot of subtlety going on here. Music changes are one example, shifting and reacting to times of day, switching between sticker mode and moving mode, and even characters dropped in a scene. I was so delighted by some characters’ reactions when I put a sticker of a ghost into a room.
And yeah, part of me craves the mind-melting tricksy puzzle game this could also have been, where I’m juggling times of day, weather conditions, who’s in an area, and innovatively using stickers for non-conventional puzzle-solving purposes. But that’s someone else’s game to make. A Tiny Sticker Tale has its own motivations, and they’re fantastic. It’s a sweet, warm and gentle game with a novel mechanic, and we can use as many of those as we can get.