While online multiplayer has reigned supreme since it came into existence, the past couple of years have seen a resurgence in popularity for the couch co-op genre. Tools Up!, from developer The Knights of Unity, is the latest addition to the genre that tests players’ renovation and teamwork skills in the goofiest ways possible. Tools Up! has its fair share of finicky quality of life issues, but ultimately succeeds in providing fun and often chaotic party co-op action.
Build Me Up, Buttercup
While Tools Up! has a single-player campaign, it thrives as a couch co-op. This was made abundantly clear in the materials provided for this review. As such, I decided to jump right into the local multiplayer action with my two nephews. As the first level loaded up, we familiarized ourselves with the controls shown on the loading screen. From there, it was basically the wild, wild west. The countdown timer started, and we were left to figure out on our own exactly what we were supposed to do. It took a good half hour before we had a solid grasp on what was required of us and how to go about getting it done.
Speaking from my own experiences, game mechanics are fairly easy to pick up without needing to go through an in-depth tutorial. Our initial entry into Tools Up!, on the other hand, would have benefitted greatly from an in-game tutorial. The game build used for this review will receive a Day One patch that will include “significant improvements to the UI and tutorial,” which will be a great asset for new players. After all, once players grasp the concepts of Tools Up!, that’s when the real fun begins.
Players are part of a construction crew tasked with renovating various houses. The crew must work together to get all of the work completed before time runs out. Work includes everything from painting walls to laying carpet, with demolition and clean-up playing a major role as well. Players can grab and throw items to help (or hinder) the team, and can even grab and throw other players. Time limits are based on the number of players, but don’t think for a second that it’s easier with more people. If anything, having more people on the crew (up to four total) makes it even crazier.
Each level is comprised of multiple rooms, most of which require some sort of work. Items such as paint and buckets used for mixing cement can be found scattered throughout the level, which when knocked over, creates a mess that needs to be cleaned up. The more accidents that happen - with chances of accidents increasing with each player added - the more likely it is that you won’t be completing the level in time. During my playthrough, we found that we couldn’t afford a single slip-up, which added to the chaos, frustration, yelling, and, ultimately, the laughter that took place even when we failed.
A Fun Fixer-Upper
Unfortunately, some of the slip-ups were due to the mechanics being a little too touchy. In order to work on the rooms, players need to interact with the highlighted spaces they are looking at. All too often, nothing would happen when clicking on a highlighted space, wasting precious seconds, or our characters would inadvertently grab an item (or another player) that was in the highlighted space. These were more frustrating than they were game-breaking, and we were able to adjust our gameplay to work with the touchiness. Hopefully, the Day One patch will address these issues.
Tools Up! isn’t necessarily groundbreaking as a party co-op title. However, even with its issues, there’s a lot of fun couch co-op to be had (and fun extras to enjoy in the late-game). Hopefully, the Day One patch will fix the game’s bugs and provide players with a more accessible tutorial. If that happens, you can consider Tools Up! as another option when you and your friends are debating which party game to play on a Friday night.
A Switch review copy of Tools Up! was provided to TheGamer for this review. Tools Up! will be available on December 3rd for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
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