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Tiny Metal Review: No Jacket Required

/ Feb 14th, 2018 No Comments

Tiny Metal Review

“War is hell.” Someone said that once, but who can remember who exactly said it? More importantly, war is audaciously complicated; there are shifting alliances, double crosses, and vague motives for the cause.

Tiny Metal, a turn-based strategy game from Japanese developer AREA 35, brings new shades to the complications of war. It pairs its strong narrative with satisfying tactical combat.

Better Part of Valor

It’s been 50 years since the world nearly came to an end in the Great World War, and wounds still cover the landscape. The societies that have survived are fighting for what scare resources are left.

Artemisia, a nation rich in natural resources, was forced to defend its borders continually. After settling minor conflicts, peace seemed to reign in Artemisia. However, peace can’t remain forever.

When the plane carrying the Artemisian king and decorated Colonel Luja Lindberg gets shot down over the isolated nation of Zipang, the peaceful Artemisia must try to recover its lost hero.

Tiny Metal Review

Wolfram and the White Fang mercenaries become an integral part of helping Artemisia fight Zipang.

The weight of the task falls to Lieutenant Nathan Gries. As his unit ensured Artemisia’s coastal defense, he takes it upon himself to find the shot down craft and see if his mentor, Lindberg, and the king are still alive. What he quickly learns is that the nation of Zipang is hostile and wants to drive any Artemisian dogs back.

Gries will have to turn foes into allies and fight friends to discover the deeper political forces behind everything and the truth about Lingberg and the king.

Tiny Metal Review

Even in war, men are still idiots.

Tiny Metal’s narrative is full of the military tropes you’d expect, but it enhances them by adding additional political motives and context for the fight. From mercenaries to surprise betrayals, Tiny Metal’s story knows what you want from a tactical military tale. Nathan Gries is well-meaning, if not naïve, and that makes him perfect as a foil to the machinations of war and the more seasoned vets around him.

What hurts the story is how convoluted it can be. Plot points begin to get jumbled, and it can become hard to keep things straight. While the narrative is intricate, it gets bogged down with double and triple crosses.

Advanced Warfare

Tiny Metal eases players into its brand of strategic combat. Over the course of a dozen missions, you’re given the basics of combat and introduced slowly to the different unit types. It gives the gameplay a deliberate pace, but also means anyone can get a good understanding of what makes the game tick.

Since you don’t get access to all the units outright, you will find yourself building more complex strategies over time. Missions are fairly straightforward at first, but become more sophisticated as different units are made available to you.

Many of Tiny Metal’s missions involve capturing an enemy base or factory, but some of them can be won simply by wiping out all enemy units or preventing their production capabilities by keeping a unit on enemy factories. Occasionally, a mission will have you outlasting an unrelenting enemy assault, forcing you to act conservatively. Regardless of the mission objectives, Tiny Metal delivers wildly satisfying strategic combat.

Tiny Metal Review

Maps eventually become huge and more complex as different units are available.

Every unit has its own advantages and weaknesses. Infantry is mobile and able to capture buildings, while land and air units have a lot more fire power and can cover significant ground.

Some air units can only attack enemies in air or on land, making them super specialized. Due to their large range, they also can be left vulnerable to attack from multiple enemy units. The most advanced air units are also very costly so they should they be used late in battles.

Metal units are powerful tanks that can chew through infantry units. However, like air units, they are extremely costly and they lack mobility, making it hard for them to support other units.

Any strong strategy in Tiny Metal involves facilitating defense for infantry units to capture buildings.

In order to summon units and support a large army, you need to capture factories and buildings. Factories allow you to produce units while buildings will net you revenue, which may be more important than attack power in Tiny Metal.

Capturing buildings isn’t easy. It takes multiple turns with two infantry units. Players should scout the map and proceed with caution when trying to raid buildings. Spending six turns capturing one building is no fun, infantry units can heal up once the structure is captured.

One of the cool aspects to Tiny Metal’s combat is the ability to have multiple units focus their fire together to inflict more damage on a unit. This is a good strategy if you want to wipe out a dangerous unit quickly without having to sacrifice too many of your own resources.

Another neat attack option to prioritize capturing buildings is to sacrifice the attack imitative, which allows your opponent to attack first but moves your enemies off of their position. This method could help you bully your way into a building. However, if your unit isn’t killed in the altercation, it will be vulnerable while capturing the building.


Tiny Metal scratches the tactical combat itch extremely well. What makes Tiny Metal toothsome is its intricate story that is filled with colorful characters. It’s premise and gameplay will please fans of Advanced Wars looking for a spiritual successor.

Tiny Metal was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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Gaming Illustrated RATING



Tiny Metal’s combat and unit mix opens up a lot of deep strategic combat with a variety of maps to assert your military dominance.


In some ways the look of Tiny Metal can be a bit polarizing. The art style for the story bits is gorgeous, but the 3D modeling doesn’t have the same pop.


Tiny Metal features great Japanese voice acting and a soundtrack that’ll get you ready for war.


Nathan Gries’ story is full of twists, turns, double crosses, loss, and more. It has a complexity that mimics the battlefield, but at times can be convoluted.