Tiny Thor Review – Stop: Mjölnir Time

We all know about Thor's adventures, but what about Tiny Thor and the events leading up to his birthday? A superb indie platformer for PC!

Ye Gods – where did Tiny Thor come from? That’s a tad rhetorical, as we all know about the mighty Thor by now (right?), but how often do you see a kid version of the Norse god? The time has come, Odin’s son, to venture forth, battle some wrong ‘uns, and return for jelly and ice cream.

Anyone familiar with Thor will know he was a voracious brute, but in this reimagining, he’s a young boy gearing up for his birthday. Hence the jelly and ice cream. Alas, evil forces throw a plot device into the anecdotal soup, some cheeky trickster rears their head, and tiny Thor has to save the people of Asgard and his b’day.

Whether you’re familiar with Thor’s shenanigans or not, Asylum Square’s platform adventure is a fresh IP that could easily be mistaken as a remaster of a 16-bit classic but with tidier visuals. That’s a conscious decision, as that’s the vision the developers were going for, and the execution is impressive; earthy visuals, a crisp soundtrack, and opulent gameplay. Yes, wine terminology.

Tiny Thor Review - Middle of the road gard
Middle-of-the-road-gard. Source: Steam

Tiny Thor Review – PC

With the help of Odin’s ravens, off you go on your adventure – a pre-pubescent Asterix, full of spunk and raring to go. Tiny Thor teases as an easy ride, which takes a few minutes to get accustomed to when calculating jumping boundaries, and what is ‘safe’. Early deaths weren’t too frequent, and it was more a case of testing the limits of the mechanics.

Once platforming becomes second nature, and you learn that jumping on villains’ heads will make them pop, Thor is given Mjölnir, and boy, does it get good from here. As one might surmise, Thor’s trusty hammer can be thrown at enemies, used to collect items, and will return every time you call it back, a.k.a. the X button (if playing on the Steam Deck – which was my weapon of choice throughout).

But advancing a little further and holding one of the shoulder buttons will bring up a trajectory for creating a flight path that can ricochet off surfaces to pass hard-to-reach areas, hit an enemy’s weak spot from an awkward angle, or even trigger interactive switches to reach a higher platform. Tiny Thor is like fusing a classic platformer of yesteryear with combat inspired by Worms or even Arkanoid. It’s amazing.

Tiny Thor Review - Oh, BEEhave
Oh, BEEhave. Source: Steam

The Wrath Of The Gods (Ish)

Mjölnir behaviour is fantastic and makes for some satisfying platform action, but at a price: the game gets increasingly difficult (as it should do), meaning your arse will get a workout through all the clenching. Where Planet of Lana got the timing perfect to the point of delight, Tiny Thor pushes the boundaries to the point where you’re playing a platform version of Dark Souls. So many deaths…

Fear not, though high risk = high rewards, and pushing through all 30-something levels will present you with new skills (such as the almighty double jump) and upgrades, as long as you collect the gems and the three rubies(?) hidden on each level that will unlock new paths. Most noteworthy is the pleasure of beating a stage. The game can be hard graft but fair. Ish.

As one would expect, there are boss battles in the game, and they were reasonably balanced – displaying a decent degree of difficulty without being overly frustrating. That said, the platforming aspects and throwing Mjölnir at the perfect angle and time serve as the core gameplay, and it’s pretty near perfect. Tiny Thor does have a few niggles that are mostly difficulty-related, but overall it raises the bar for platform games. Try the demo on Steam and experience it for yourself.

Verdict

Yes, instant deaths can be infuriating, and reaching that next checkpoint can prove to be a pain in the arse, but the positives outweigh the negatives – Tiny Thor is one of the best platformers of 2023, embracing the best things of 16-bit gaming, but with a modern spin. Oh, and scanlines from the outset? Hel (intentional spelling), yeah!