This one wasn’t on my radar until JT mentioned it during an episode of the Indie Game Culture Podcast. As soon as I saw the screenshots, I knew I had to play it, so I went straight to the Nintendo Store to pre-order it.
A Tiny Sticker Tale promised to be a short and cozy adventure with adorable visuals and plenty of fun puzzles to solve. I’d been tackling Cocoon at the same time, and I liked the idea of having an easier puzzle game to wind down with. I was able to complete it by playing off and on during a single day, which is always fun for immersion.
So, is this wholesome little game worth playing? And more importantly, is it worth the price? Let’s see!
A Heart-warming Story of Connection
The issue with short games is that there’s rarely enough time to build up a genuine connection to the characters, meaning that any emotional beats don’t hit as hard. This was true with A Tiny Sticker Tale, and I won’t pretend that I was moved to my core or anything like that. However, despite this, I did still appreciate the inclusion of a story anyway.
The premise is that you arrive on a mysterious island holding a magical sticker book that allows you to interact with your environment. As you travel through the world you unlock new areas and uncover new messages that your dad has left for you. Each note initiates a new cutscene, deepening the lore surrounding your father. At first, all we know is that your dad entrusted the sticker book to you as a way to share his hobby of collecting them. But as time goes on, we get to learn more and more about your shared history.
The ending is bittersweet and it did make me feel emotions, but as I said earlier, short games don’t tend to affect me particularly deeply. There are exceptions (Storm Boy is an excellent game to check out if you want a good cry), but since A Tiny Sticker Tale isn’t really narrative-driven, I wasn’t expecting much in the first place.
Throughout the story, you also learn valuable traits such as courage and friendship. This is achieved through helping others with their quests, and the overall theme is self-improvement and growth. I love to see positive messages in gaming, so I’m glad that the goal was to become a better individual.
Unique Level Design
Initially, I was hesitant about the game’s choice of level design, but after a while, I decided I really liked it. Instead of a continuous world that you navigate through, instead, you’re presented with a series of individual screens. Each one has several different assets that you can interact with, as well as a pathway to the next screen.
The screens are laid out in a grid formation, and at first, I was annoyed that I had to memorize the paths. But relatively early on, you get access to a map that shows you the grid layout. Any screens you haven’t yet visited are grayed out, which is an excellent choice. It made it easier for me to clearly see how to navigate to new areas. I’m prone to getting lost in games, so the clear map design was really useful here.
I wouldn’t say there are any downsides to the level design. I was worried that it would dumb down the exploration, but it didn’t. Admittedly, it did make it a bit easier to spot puzzle solutions since there are only so many assets you can interact with on each screen, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. If this game were marketing itself as a challenging puzzle game to test your wits, then sure, it would be a problem. But for a cozy puzzle adventure, it worked perfectly. It’s a clever way to avoid long loading screens between areas, and the travel was almost instantaneous.
Original Gameplay Mechanics
The main USP of A Tiny Sticker Tale is the inclusion of stickers. These are how you interact with the world around you to access new areas and solve puzzles. Essentially, many of the in-game assets that you see are actually stickers that you can pick up and manipulate. You have a sticker book where you can store stickers for later, or you can move them around on the same screen.
The process is very intuitive, and it didn’t take me long to get to grips with it. The game even offers you a mini tutorial to teach you how to use the stickers properly. I really appreciated that, since many smaller games like this one don’t bother explaining their mechanics. I do think the sensitivity should have been better, though, as it was hard to be precise with placements as the slightest touch would move the stickers considerably.
Now, I will admit that technically the ‘sticker’ thing is a bit of a gimmick since once they’re placed down, the items just become regular items again. So essentially, all you’re doing is storing items in an inventory for later. However, I still like that it’s presented through the lens of a magical sticker book. You also get to interact with objects you normally wouldn’t be able to, such as moving large environmental assets like trees, or even storing NPCs.
You have limited space in your sticker book, so the game forces you to think carefully about which stickers to take with you. There are some which are essentials, like your various tools. Others are merely useful in certain contexts. Trying to figure out what to take and when is a huge part of the fun. Annoyingly, the game doesn’t let you rotate the stickers in your book to fit more in. I think this should have been allowed, as it would have felt more like a puzzle.
I also love that the bonus content introduces new ways to interact with your environment. I won’t give any spoilers, but there’s a sticker you gain towards the end of the game, after the main story, that has exceptional powers. It completely changes the way you move around, and allows you to access areas that were previously impossible. I loved this so much, and it encouraged me to strive for 100% completion.
An Interesting Range of Puzzles
I won’t lie, these weren’t the most intense puzzles I’ve ever come across. Most of them are very straightforward and require next to no critical thought. However, they weren’t so easy that they were boring. I think they’d be solvable for kids aged 9/10 and up, but they’re still fun for adults.
Still, although most of them were easy, a couple did stump me at first. I didn’t need to use any guides, but 2 of the puzzles did take me over 10 minutes to solve. Annoyingly, the first one was simply due to my misunderstanding of what a character was trying to say, and I do think it should have been written more clearly. His quest was almost completely unrelated to what he was saying, and it led to me trying to solve a completely different puzzle to what he was referring to.
Many of the puzzles related to the main story quest were very self-explanatory, but for the bonus content, you had to think more carefully. A Tiny Sticker Tale encourages you to interact with absolutely everything, and you can discover new puzzles pretty much everywhere you go. They’re all solved by applying the right stickers in the right places, and you need to be observant to do this.
I love it when games encourage exploration, so I really enjoyed the puzzle aspects of this game, since they involved a lot of moving around searching for the correct stickers. I thought the range of complexity perfectly fit the cozy vibes of the game.
A Tiny Sticker Tale is certainly original, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t wonderful alternatives to try out. Check out the below titles!
- Toem – Another cute game about fulfilling a journey entrusted to you by an older relative. Toem also applies a similar map layout, where you traverse between screens searching for ways to fulfill side quests.
- Little Big Planet – If the main thing that attracted you to A Tiny Sticker Tale was the stickers themselves, then any of the entries in the Little Big Planet series may appeal to you. Collect stickers and items to decorate the world around you, as well as solve fun puzzles!
- Lonesome Village – If you, like me, love the adorable graphics in A Tiny Sticker Tale then you might like Lonesome Village from the same developer. This cozy adventure game has wholesome vibes abound, and plenty of puzzles for you to solve along the way. A Tiny Sticker Tale even references one of the characters in Lonesome Village, confirming that they’re set in the same world.
I can’t really find many flaws with A Tiny Sticker Tale, it was delightfully compact and I enjoyed myself from start to finish. I was expecting a cute adventure with a few challenging puzzles, and that’s exactly what I got. There wasn’t too much difficulty, but I knew from the get-go that that would be the case, and I wasn’t looking for anything to really get my head in gear. I just wanted some fun challenges that I could solve for a serotonin boost, and this title delivered.
I would love to give it a higher score, but that feels disingenuous as it’s much easier for a game to avoid flaws when it’s this small. Although I did genuinely love it, it doesn’t really push the boat out, and pretty much everything about the game is basic and simplistic. I don’t see that as a bad thing, merely a barrier to me giving it an 8 or higher.
The price is an absolute steal at $9.99, and I would definitely say it’s great value for money. Yes, it may be short, but you get consistent enjoyment from start to finish in a well-finished adventure puzzle game. If this is your kind of genre, then I would definitely recommend it to you. Heck, even if it’s not your usual genre, it’s still worth checking out if you enjoy wholesome vibes.
Pros and Cons
- Adorable graphics – The visual elements are very simplistic, but they’re so cute, I was a big fan. I much prefer it when indie games commit to minimalist graphics rather than trying for something hyper-realistic and failing miserably. The music was super cute too.
- A heart-warming message of self-improvement – As I said earlier, it was a bit cheesy, but I don’t mind that sometimes. The game celebrated positive traits, and that’s always great to see.
- Fun mechanics – I loved the unique mechanic of using the stickers to interact with your environment. It made for fun puzzles that didn’t feel like other games I’ve played.
- No replayability – When I downloaded the game, the description page claimed there was great replayability, there isn’t. Sure, you can customize the world differently by placing stickers in new places, but that’s it. Puzzle games rarely have replayability value, and this is no different.
- The sticker book could be better designed – I don’t like that you can’t rotate stickers to fit them in your sticker book, nor do I like how imprecise the movement is when organizing them.
Question: Who made A Tiny Sticker Tale?
Answer: A Tiny Sticker Tale was developed by Ogre Pixel, the same team that made Lonesome Village.
Question: How long is A Tiny Sticker Tale?
Answer: The game takes 3-5 hours to fully complete, depending on how quickly you can solve the puzzles. The main storyline takes 2-4 hours.
Question: Is A Tiny Sticker Tale suitable for children?
Answer: A Tiny Sticker Tale contains no inappropriate themes, but some of the puzzles may be tricky for young children. The game is rated ESRB, suitable for all ages.
Melika played the game for around 4 hours, achieving total completion of both the main story and the extra content. It took around 3 hours to beat the main story, and then an extra hour to finish all the side quests and find all the hidden stickers.