Who Doesn’t Love Decorating with Friends?
I’m always on the lookout for some couch co-op madness as these were some of my most fond gaming memories from my younger years. One of the latest to try and take up some of that sweet, sweet hard drive space on our consoles comes from developer The Knights Of Unity.
This is The Knights’ very first solo project, having previously been porting titles like PC Building Simulator to Nintendo Switch and working in part on developing other titles like Scythe, Disco Elysium & Gwent: The Witcher Card Game.
But will Tools Up! be an easy weekend of decorating with friends or a DIY disaster?
Come grab a paintbrush, pop on your overalls and beware of any spillages as it’s time to Tools Up! my friends.
Tools Up! casts you as a team of decorators who need to complete jobs within a certain timeframe ranging from simple tasks like painting the walls to carpeting the floors. It then slowly introduces more challenges like wallpapering and knocking down or rebuilding the walls themselves. Unfortunately this team doesn’t instill you with much confidence as they manage to crash their van before they even start the first job.
The first thing to note of this game is that it has the look and feel of a rather popular frantic cooking game, but that actually works in Tools Up!’s favour.
The aim of the game? You will need to remove old decor and replace it with something new and fresh.
You’ll start your project by checking the blueprints which very handily layer the desired look over the top of the rooms you’re in. There will be some items already in the property like a bucket and a tin of paint. You will find that other supplies will be dropped at the door for you to collect while juggling your various jobs.
The controls are very simple and easy to use with actions like pick up/ put down, do action and throw all on the face buttons, with the L1/R1 buttons being used to rotate the camera when you have a hold of the blueprints.
The bucket is everything to your decorator. It is in nearly every level and is a multipurpose item. Firstly, you will use it as a bin to put any rubbish in, only emptying outside once it’s full; this will save you a lot of running around.
Later, the bucket is used for mixing cement and paste, as well as mortar for wall building. This is where things can get a little confusing. There will come a level where you have paste available, as well as cement and mortar, and it’s easy to forget which white box or bag contains what and which is needed for the particular task.
The game could use a little more clarity with the instructions on these levels.
The gameplay as a whole is pretty fun. Things can go crazy as you can drop stuff or slip on paint causing all kinds of mayhem. The most fun I had was on one of the later ice-based levels where part of the floor is frozen over allowing you the opportunity to pick up an item and drift like Vin Diesel around corners.
You also have the option to throw away most things that can be picked up, including your fellow decorators. This helps when it comes to tidying up. The game will ask you to complete all jobs and tidy up to receive full points which requires moving all items out of the house. Luckily for you none of these properties appear to have any roofs so you can just throw everything over the walls.
A tip from me though, the paint cans never have lids on them so don’t go throwing those around.
Tools Up! Is It Fun?
Playing the game solo can be enjoyable but as you can imagine from the type of game Tools Up! is, it’s best played with friends.
You can, of course, play and complete every level solo if you wish to but obviously many hands make light work and we all have that one friend who will want to take charge and boss everybody around. If you find that your self-appointed leader has a rather large vein showing on their head or others are struggling to keep up the game does have the option to be played without a time limit allowing for more planning and inevitably more mistakes to be made without you having to restart the level over.
Tools Up! also has this insanely retro feature whereby if you progress through the game you unlock more characters and, believe it or not, you don’t have to buy any DLC packs or open any loot boxes to do so. This is nothing major, as the different characters are all cosmetic and all play the same but it’s incredibly rewarding to unlock characters by just playing and enjoying the game. If only some of the big publishers would reward their players in a similar way these days.
Our Honest Conclusion
There is a lot of fun to be had with this game, whether you just wanted to feel like the greatest one-man painter/decorator team or to have something to play on when your buds pop round with their controllers. Although there are some issues with the instructions, the core gameplay delivers hours of fun.