For over a decade, my mother has been hooked on a very special kind of TV show: home improvement and home renovation. It first started with Property Brothers, but soon she discovered Tiny House Nation, Fixer Upper, Love it or List it, Restoration Home… the list is extensive. And I know she isn’t the only one, due to the many shows about this same subject. And this makes me wonder: with all that audience for this kind of TV shows, how could we never have a game about home renovations? Even cooking shows already have their representative with Overcooked. But what about building and renewing your dream home? I’d like to introduce Tools Up!
Developed by the Polish indie studio The Knights of Unity and published by All in! Games, Tools Up! is a party game where you and up to three friends will be in charge of renovating apartments in a building. Paint their walls, demolish walls, apply new wallpapers and make these places the dream home of their inhabitants. Work with your friends to complete every job before the clock runs out and become the home improvement team that would make Jonathan and Drew proud!
What do you do? In Tools Up! You will be running against the clock to paint, apply wallpapers, install flooring and many other renovations to the apartments of a building. Examine the blueprints to check what you need to do at each level, pay attention to the doorbell to receive the material and work hard to complete all the tasks before time runs out! Oh, and don’t forget to clean all the mess before finishing the job!
What we liked!
- Visuals: The visuals in Tools Up! are colorful, simple and very charming. The developer opted for a low level of detail in its textures and low poly structure for its characters, creating a cute and comical cast of workers for you to choose from. Even with the clean textures, the quality of its visuals is unquestionable. And it does remind me of Team 17’s Overcooked – which is good since that’s a game everybody loves!
- Sound: With ever-exciting music that gives the rhythm to your work and sound effects that are as cute the visuals of the game, the audio department of Tools Up! is very well served. But don’t drop your tools when the music accelerates as the time runs out, ok?
- Gameplay: The gameplay consists ok – guess what – making the renewal in each apartment. You start by painting the walls and changing the carpets, but soon you’ll be applying wallpapers, cement and flooring. As you advance to the upper floors, new elements and challenges are added to the gameplay, like demolishing walls or dealing with rain while you make the renovation. I know that raining inside of a building makes absolutely no sense but ignore the logic here and just enjoy the game.
- Mastering the art of renewing: Challenging and very funny, the gameplay in Tools Up! will absolutely hook you! You start your adventure on the ground floor of a building and will unlock access to the upper floors as you collect stars. Stars are earned as you complete its levels – or better saying the apartments: if you manage to complete all the tasks from a blueprint and clean the place before time runs out, you can get up to three stars.
- Multiplayer fun! Clearly designed to be enjoyed in the company of friends, up to three friends can help you accomplish the tasks in the allowed time. As more players are on the level, the more coordination between you will be needed to complete all rooms in the allowed time. I don’t believe it’s possible to complete the game playing alone, though. The upper floors of the building have some very challenging apartments I doubt you will be able to complete without help.
- Game modes: Besides the campaign mode, the game also offers a party mode where you can play some levels from the campaign. Kind pointless since you already can replay any level in the campaign menu.
- Cooperation without competition: I missed a versus mode in this game for those moments when the cooperation goes down the toilet and you want to see who’s the fastest player or duo to renovate a kitchen or bedroom. Maybe in some upcoming DLCs the developers will give us this opportunity.
- Not rewarding: With the stars you earn you can unlock new characters to play with. But as they are very similar to each other, you don’t feel compelled to unlock all of them. Instead, unlocking new levels to play will be the main reason to pursue all those stars. It must be hard for a developer to add a reward system in a game where the game is the reward in itself.
What we disliked
- Controlling issues: Now for the problems of the game. Sometimes it gets frustrating to correctly select the floor or the object over it: selecting the right thing may require you to be on an exact spot, something that drives you angry when in a hurry. Another problem is when you’re carrying something and want to place it on the floor: when you’re close to walls, you won’t be able to – even though there’s clearly enough space for placing it on the ground. The possibility to turn the camera only when holding the blueprint is more of a hindrance than a help. It would be better if you could only use your bumpers for that, even though only one of the players could do that.
With is simple but charming visuals and addictive gameplay, Tools Up! Totally caught me with a low guard. Its simplicity even made my girlfriend, someone who doesn’t like playing videogames, have some fun playing with me – which is such an achievement! If you have fallen in love with Overcooked back in the day or are a fan of any of the aforementioned shows, I strongly recommend you to try this game! It’s a perfect option for those nights in the family in the upcoming holidays. To renew your place has never been so fun!
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.