There’s no denying the fact that when Overcooked! popped onto the PS4 local multiplayer scene back in 2016, it kickstarted a whole sub-genre of transforming seemingly mundane domesticity into a fiendishly entertaining co-operative spectacle. Tools Up! follows the path that Overcooked! forged, and not by just by putting a seemingly wayward exclamation mark at the end of its name, but by successfully replicating the concept with a different domestic pursuit – house renovation.
That’s correct – Tools Up! is the Overcooked! of the house renovation business, and it’s just as accomplished and hair-pulling (in a good way) as Team 17’s chaotic cuisine conjuring sim.
Tools Up! PS4 Review
Overcooked! Moves Into The House Renovation Business With Hilarious, If Predictable Results
Adopting the same lofty third-person perspective that Overcooked! does, Tools Up! is all about renovating houses and other such properties to a particular specification, and is probably the closest I’ll ever get to doing any kind of DIY at anything resembling competency. Yes, I suck. I know this. Anyhoo, depending on the specification, which can be discovered from a handy blueprint document, you’ll be doing everything from painting walls and laying rugs, to mixing cement, knocking down walls and putting up wallpaper.
Arguably one of the main reasons why Tools Up! is so successful is because it deftly distills the execution of these tasks into a simple and accessible fashion. With a modest control layout which consists of a button for picking up/putting stuff down, a button for interacting with stuff and a finally a button for throwing stuff (hilariously the throw command is displayed in all caps in the tutorial loading screen), Tools Up! is certainly not a convoluted affair and can be grasped and played in earnest by just about everyone.
Despite the eminently welcoming nature of Tools Up, there is still an IKEA warehouse sized amount of depth in the game. Again, much like Overcooked! the tasks that you are assigned have multiple component stages to them. Tiling a floor for example, requires you to first scour the floor, mix cement, apply the mixture, wait for it to dry and then finally overlay the tiles on top. While putting wallpaper up requires you to clean the walls, apply wallpaper paste and then quickly put up the wallpaper before the mixture dries.
Further adding to the tasks that must be accomplished are the puddles of mess, dirt and debris that must be mopped up, dumped in a bucket and then taken to the recycling unit that lurks outside the property. Additionally, once you’ve completed all the tasks at hand, you must also make sure that you’ve cleaned up after yourselves too – removing all tools and items, whilst also making sure that all furniture have been restored to its proper place and that no mess has been left behind in your wake.
Where things get a bit tangled is in the fact that it can sometimes be tricky to do exactly what you want to in Tools Up!. Because you can often have situations where you have multiple items to interact with in the environment (a spillage might be next to a wall that you wish to paint, for example), as the game occasionally has problems letting you use or interact with stuff when you need to – something of an annoying issue considering the time is almost always of the essence. Don’t get me wrong; this is largely something that can be addressed through practice and patience, but new players may well find themselves frustrated by this in the short term.
Like Overcooked! before it, Tools Up! can turn even your meekest, most softly spoken friends and family into raging, red-throated dictators at a moments notice – though in truth that’s a big part of the fun too. Whether it’s because paint cans are being knocked over, doors being broken off their hinges, walls have been painted in the wrong color (there’s a trophy for that too) or players ‘accidentally’ throwing one another into a nearby pond, Tools Up! deftly succeeds in mimicking Overcooked’s penchant for provide ample creative latitude for player driven failure.
While outwardly similar to Overcooked! in many ways, Tools Up! is very much a more leisurely and tactical affair. Sure, you still have a time limit to reckon with, but each level is very much constructed with planning in mind in so far as, you’ll want to have someone cleaning up the existing mess first, someone else in charge of painting, another person in charge of tiling and so on. As such, Tools Up! feels far less ad-hoc and chaotic than the Team 17 product, boasting a grand amount of appeal to those who may have found themselves turned off by Overcooked’s relentless pressure cooker brand of gameplay.
Where Tools Up! falters, is in the fact that the once each of its levels have been conquered, there is little reason to return as there are no extra modes and little else to do beyond the campaign. Don’t get me wrong – the numerous levels that make up Tools Up! total are a varied bunch, pitting players against all manner of perils such as ice floors, multiple exits and more besides that all complement the core gameplay well.
It’s just a shame that there isn’t more of them, and the fact that there is no kind of plot as there was in Overcooked! (as thin, though oddly entertaining as that was), might hurt the appeal of the game for younger folk who are looking for some kind of narrative hook. Tools Up! certainly looks and sounds the part too. Overflowing with twee charm, lovable goofy characters and pop-along music, Tools Up! is bright, vivid and cheerfully effervescent experience that everyone of all ages can enjoy. Just be sure that you’re playing Tools Up! with friends, simply because it’s much more fun with them than it is on your own.
Y’know. Just like Overcooked!
Tools Up! is out now on PS4, PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.