Tools Up! Developed by The Knights of Unity and published by All in! Games is a frantic construction-based game best enjoyed co-op, but just as fun to play alone. Full of quirky humor, Tools Up! Is a great pick me up during these uncertain times.
Tools Up! Consists of around 30 challenging levels of construction mayhem ranging from simple carpeting jobs to skating across ice, dodging lava, pulling equipment out of nearby rivers, mixing your own plaster, applying wallpaper, and laying cement all while working under a stressful timer counting down the seconds until your failure.
This deceptively simple (at first glance) game begins with levels centered on simple tasks with forgiving time meters. Here you learn the basics: how to paint, lay carpet, and clean up after yourself. This is also where you’ll be introduced to the blueprints – the only guide as to how to correctly decorate a room.
The blueprint will be scattered somewhere random in (most) levels. By picking up the blueprint you can view what the finished rooms should look like, thus giving you an idea of which carpet goes in which room, which paint to use, etc. Also, holding the blueprint is the only way that you can turn the camera to view other angles, so it is imperative that you choose the best angle for the job before beginning or learn how to quickly grab the blueprint, switch views, and then toss it aside so as not to lose too much of your precious time.
While the core concept of this game is simple – and indeed the first few levels are straightforward – the game quickly grows challenging. Every other room or so will see the introduction of a new challenge, ranging from ice covered floors, lava, water streams carrying essential items away, delivery men who go to the wrong house or come at inopportune times, house pets whose life goal is to trip you while you’re carrying paint, to having to mix your own plaster for wallpaper and concrete to lay tiles. There are even areas where there are no blueprints to be found – or worse, multiple blueprints – and the only choice you have is to wildly guess and hope for the best.
The depth hidden in Tools Up! Is quite surprising and had me eager to progress to see which challenges would arise next. Every time that I thought I may have mastered a task the game found a way to further complicate the construction process, keeping me on my toes for the entirety of my playthrough as I rushed to beat the clock.
Levels are laid out on various floors of a large building. As you progress up the building the floors become more haphazard and treacherous, slowly falling into various degrees of dilapidation, until ultimately arriving at what could be called a haunted house of sorts which will serve as the ultimate test of all your previously learned skills.
You are rated on a scale of 1 to 3 stars in each level depending on how quickly you complete your tasks, whether you complete the tasks 100%, and whether you get the house cleaned up before leaving. These stars serve as your means to progress. Floors are normally locked behind unlocking a specific number of stars; so many times your only way to progress is to replay levels until you score the coveted three stars.
While the game doesn’t deviate much from its basic concept, it remains fun throughout the 7 or so hours it will take to complete. Players can expect to fail multiple times on some maps before memorizing where each item needs to go, helping avoid the long delays that stem from checking out blueprints.
There is something I need to mention. While Tools Up! Can certainly be played single player, it is built from the ground up to be a multiplayer experience. You and up to three friends can work together to complete construction jobs, relieving some of the stress that stems from trying to read blueprints, clean up, mix items, lay carpet, set tile, set up brick walls, tear down walls, dodge pesky house pets, and paint by yourself. The game is also hilarious when played multiplayer, as chaos quickly ensues with everybody frantically attempting to work together and creating new messes in the process.
Both modes are fun, and I enjoyed the challenge that came from tackling the levels solo, but many families will find the co-op to be a great option for a quality game night. For fans of strategy, team-building, co-op, and outright mayhem in video games – look no further than the excellent Tools Up!
Tools Up! Is available now on Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4. Special thanks to The Knights of Unity and All in! Games for providing Fandomize with a review code.