Tools Up is a co-op party game developed by The Knights Of Unity. It is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. Joseph Pugh conducted this review on a standard Xbox One console.
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Tools Up is a cooperative party game for 1 to 4 players. You play as a team of handymen, women, and anthropomorphic animals working together to renovate a bunch of apartments in a towering skyscraper.
Your time in each job is limited. You will need to knock down, and build walls, lay tile, place wallpaper, move furniture and more while leaving enough time to tidy up at the end. Some levels will offer obstacles such as slick ice, lava streams and an enthusiastic dog you will need to workaround.
Always present is your own incompetence. You and your friends will get into each others way, knock over buckets, and fall down by slipping in the spilled paint. Tools Up is a simple game to learn, using only a few buttons. It can be played alone, but is meant to be played with others.
Can We Fix It? Yes We can!
You and your friends choose a starting character, and you can unlock several others, many of which are cute tubby animals such an otter or alpaca. From there you set off on your renovation adventure. You move around each apartment completing various tasks. Once all the tasks are complete you need to pick up all the tools and get out within the time limit.
Most levels have a blueprint you can pick up and look at that shows what rooms need what kind of work. For example, some rooms might just need the walls painted, others will need old wallpaper torn down, glue applied to the wall, then new wallpaper applied to the glue before it drys.
The tasks begin simple but grow in complexity, the campaign continually introduces new mechanics. For example, laid down floor tiles need to dry before you can walk on them again, a little bit of planning can go along way toward meeting the time limit.
Meanwhile, you will have to navigate certain obstacles, the furniture will need to be moved around as you work. A delivery guy periodically shows up with the things you need but seems to fancy a riveting game of ding dong ditch. He will bail out with your goods shortly after ringing the doorbell if you aren’t quick enough.
A bucket can hold the various glues, and types of cement you need for different tasks, but also garbage so you don’t have to make multiple trips to the trash bin. Balancing its usage with each other is one of the keys to winning the game. The concept of Tools Up isn’t new, but it is an interesting take on the cooperative party genre.
Condemning The Condominium
The campaign itself is pretty easy, my partner and I were able to three-star most levels on the first try, but you can take on each level in the challenge mode to increase the stakes. However controlling the game is a challenge itself, and not an entertaining one.
The characters don’t feel responsive and the camera is constantly in the way. Objects often get blocked or hidden behind areas of the apartment. You can rotate it, but only when your character is holding the blueprint and doing so is incredibly jarring to the other players.
When objects are close together, it’s difficult to highlight which one you actually want and will often find yourself picking up or performing the wrong thing
Tools Up doesn’t have the same kind of chaotic teamwork that other games in the genre do. You work together, but it mostly boils down to deciding what room each player will cover, and that’s it. Then it’s down to each player pushing a few buttons in each room until the task is done.
A few of the levels are genuinely entertaining but the game seems to squander its best features. For example, one level features a cute dog that runs around the place being a nuisance, getting in the way, knocking over buckets, etc. It adds an additional needed layer to the simplistic game-play. The dog appears in a single level out of the 30. More often than not, when a neat obstacle appears, it only appears once or twice.
Tools Up is pretty short for its price, we completed the campaign in just a few hours, but you can get additional playtime out of the challenge mode. While challenge mode requires your timing to be more on point, nothing about the gameplay is different.
Tools Up is fun at times. Despite the frustrating camera it never really tilts over the edge of being downright grating. it’s just not particularly engaging for most of the time you play. I feel that the gameplay needed a few more wrenches thrown
The game is at its best in levels that add something interesting, such as the dog or streams of lava. But those moments are far and few in between, despite the games short length. Most levels my partner and I didn’t speak a word to each other after we decided what rooms each of us would tackle. A dark contrast to other party games that have players constantly yelling at each other and laughing.
You can still squeeze a few hours of entertainment out of it if you need of a party game one night and have exhausted other options, but I can’t recommend it at full price.
- Lots of unlockable characters
- Varied level biomes
- Interesting take on the co-op party genre
- Camera and controls can be frustrating
- The gameplay feels very plain and simple, not much chaos or teamwork
- Tools Up is short, only a few hours long
- The game squanders its best features by rarely using them