Tools Up! is a multiplayer-focused party game developed by The Knights of Unity. Players will team up to complete house renovations within a time limit. While there is definite hilarity to be had, it’s somewhat bogged down by innovation and controls. It won’t take much to plow through the original 30 levels, but recently the developers added a new party mode “Time Attack” to give fans more variation in gameplay.
The single-player mode gives you extra time to complete tasks to make up for the lack of muscle. It almost feels relaxing in single-player. You’re given plenty of time to finish everything. Make a mental list and pound it out. Once you add bodies, the time reduces and players will have different mental lists. Communication becomes key, but the clock is always ticking. Overall, this creates fun and hectic gameplay.
The gameplay is focused on navigating house layouts to complete various renovations. This starts out with laying carpet and painting walls but escalates to having to mix mortar and stack bricks. Seems easy enough, but players will find themselves overlapping tasks or needing the same equipment in different areas. Speaking of equipment, the bucket is life. It can fit an entire room’s torn up carpet and several smashed walls of debris. Fighting over the bucket is pretty much core gameplay.
Renovations stop at floors and walls. You’re not going to be fixing any leaky faucets or installing any appliances. I’m not sure if this was a missed opportunity or not. As the levels progress, there’s plenty of various tasks to keep players busy, but somehow I expected there to be more to do.
The controls can get a bit frustrating at times. There are so many close together objects, it can be a chore to get your character to select the one you want them to work on. This causes spills and lost time. Along with that, controller input isn’t always responsive. Sometimes I’d go to pick something up and the button just wouldn’t work. When gameplay revolves around the ticking clock, these kinds of issues get frustrating really quickly.
The main campaign expands over 30 levels with 6 varying “worlds.” It starts out fairly basic and eventually layers in more complicated mechanics. One aspect I thought was interesting was having different rooms with the same color but slightly different designs. This makes you really look at the plans closer or the materials you’re working with. However, level designs don’t get that crazy. You’re not going to be building any space houses or underwater garages. There is some slight variation in levels, but not enough to promote silly gameplay.
The developers added Time Attack mode as an option in a recent patch. Players will have to beat the main campaign in order to access this mode. That’s fine, but I think it should be unlocked right away or sooner than the end. Some people may really like the challenge as it offers more. In Time Attack mode, players will start out with way less time to complete the level, but gain time for completing tasks and lose time for mess-ups. This mode does not offer any new levels.
An alright idea to give players a bigger challenge, but the problem is the controls I mentioned earlier. There ends up being a lot of mess-ups. It’s part of the fun of the gameplay! Time Attack mode was just too punishing when you messed up. Get punished enough from controls not working correctly and it becomes less fun pretty quickly. It would be nice if there were difficulty settings here. Easy might give you more time for completing tasks and punish you less for mess-ups. It just felt like such a fine line to get through levels.
Tools up! is a great idea for a game that needs some polish. The core gameplay is pretty fun, but bogged down by control issues and lack of fleshed out design and content. Recommended for players looking to expand their party game library. While this won’t be as big of a hit as some other games in the genre, there are good times to be had with Tools Up!