Whenever a new game comes along that offers me the ability to sit down and play it with my family I take notice of it. The Overcooked games are some of the most fun (and stressful) local co-op games we’ve played together but because no game lasts forever I have to seek out new endeavors for our family game time fix. The latest game to open its doors to us and invite us in to play together is Tools Up! from developer The Knights of Unity and publisher All In! Games. It’s a game that very much drew inspiration from Overcooked but instead of cooking up recipes you’re working together to renovate homes.
Tools Up! can be played with 1-4 players and in my experience is much better when playing with friends. I beat both of the Overcooked! games playing solo but to me Tools Up! just isn’t as good in that respect. When I was playing it with my wife and son I had a much more fun time with it. Each player selects a worker to play as and you then walk around the level hub and enter the level you want to play. Every level is timed and you’ll have to work together to do things like paint the walls of each house, put down new carpet, move furniture around, clean up your materials and waste and so on. You can also pick the other players up and throw them but you should probably be doing your job instead of goofing off doing that. Controls are relatively simple and easy for anyone to pick up and learn with each function like painting or picking up something being assigned to a certain button on the Dualshock 4.
Upon entering the house of the chosen level you’ll first have to find and open up the blueprint that is provided to you. The blueprint displays boxes on the side of the screen that tells you what exactly needs to be done in each room to finish the job. The blueprint also allows you to rotate the camera to get a better look at the whole area. The game starts you off with some pretty eacy levels to get you familiar with all that you’ll be needing to do. It teaches you that in order to paint the walls you first need to remove the old paint and toss it in your work bucket. You might find you need certain supplies and for that you’ll have to wait on a delivery guy to bring them to you. They aren’t the most patient people either so make sure someone picks up the supplies from them as soon as possible once they arrive. Splitting up the duties and assigning each player something to focus on is your best bet for earning a top rating on the level.
Once you’ve completed everything you have to make sure to pack up all of your stuff and move it out of the house to finish the job. You also have to make sure everything is clean so if a player tripped over a bucket or something and spilled paint you need to make sure to clean it up before time runs out. I mean it does no good if the owner were to return to brand new walls and floors only to find a puddle of paint in the middle of their floor. There are 30 levels in the game in total and each one grades your performance on a 3 star rating. It wasn’t very difficult to earn the full 3 stars on the levels either when compared to a game like Overcooked. That’s because Tools Up! in general isn’t as stressful of a gameplay experience as that game was and that could be a good or bad thing in one’s eyes. You won’t be getting mad at each other as much but you also might find the easier pace not as exciting like I did. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun playing this as I certainly did but there were times where I started to get bored of the routine.
The game looks nice presentation wise with lots of color throughout the various levels. Level variety was pretty good as you get into some different locales the further you progress. Later levels have you dealing with having to fetch your supplies from a moving river as well as frozen levels where you’ll be slipping and sliding. The game also offers a nice variety of playable characters of both the human and animal kind. I was the one playing as the llama during our session once we unlocked it. Sadly though once you finish the game there isn’t a lot of reasons left to return to it other than to get any trophies you might’ve missed. There is no story at all in the game and there aren’t really any other modes to engage with. These are all things that can probably be addressed if the developer chooses to make a sequel to this.
For fans of local multiplayer games like I am you’ll probably find enjoyment in Tools Up! especially if you’re a fan of Overcooked. I highly recommend you only get this if you have others to play with though as it just isn’t as fun playing solo. It’s a game that has a very approachable control scheme and a nice assortment of levels and ideas but could use a bit more touching up to really make it a special experience.
*Tools Up! is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher.