As a homeowner, do-it-yourself home makeovers come with the territory. Projects can be large, taking weeks to finish, sometimes requiring walls/floors to be demolished, and other times you may want to repaint a room or hang up stylized wallpaper. Regardless of what the plan is, there is one thing you’ll experience each time, stress, anxiety, and more often than not, frustration. Tools Up! has you renovating an apartment building, unit by unit, each one requiring various types of improvements.
Tools Up! can be played by yourself; however, just like in real life, these types of DIY improvements are best handled by a group of friends. In similar fashion to Overcooked, where you frantically operated in fantastical kitchen environments Tools Up! tasks everyone to cooperate in tight corridors to complete all the necessary tasks before time expires. Unlike Overcooked, you have to complete all of the jobs to complete each of the 30 levels. Your overall score and subsequent star total are dependent open tidying up the workplace, ensuring not to leave any materials, spills, or trash lying around.
The control mechanics are reasonably simplistic, using the face buttons to pick up and apply paint, wallpaper, etc. using a combination of taps and button holds. You can throw objects you are holding, moving them around the space swiftly; however, the mechanic barely functions. Most of the time, you’ll notice your character twists his body and head to the side, indicating that they can’t do what you ask. This results in a highly frustrating experience when you are unable to toss a carpet or a bucket into another room with nothing blocking your path. Items can also become stuck on top of walls, resulting in them disappearing. Each level has a single set of blueprints, indicating what work needs to be completed. It can be slightly confusing, as the yellow and orange color of paint and carpet looks eerily similar, especially when viewing the blueprints. Not only that, but unless you are holding the plans, the game’s camera is locked.
Often, you’ll need to do some amount of preparation, either ripping down existing wallpaper or placing mortar/cement on walls or prepare the floor for tilework. When dealing with wallpaper, you can only do one section at a time, requiring you to place the removed materials in a bucket or the floor. Piles on the floor can slow you down and cause you to slip, not to mention the piles themselves can quickly fill up entire rooms, making it a nightmare to continue working. Targeting walls and floors can be tricky if anything from garbage to paint cans are in the room or too close to the wall. You’ll need to juggle the placement of the supplies as you finish each room. One careless move and you’re newly finished floor could be covered in paint, chewing up precious seconds to clean it up.
Of course, you won’t have all the necessary supplies once you start, and you are at the mercy of deliveries that appear at random intervals. Deliveries may be sent to the wrong apartment number, forcing you to chase after them before they leave the floor. Yep, they grow increasingly impatient and don’t wait long if you don’t take the items from them fast enough. With the overly stylized character designs that barely fit through doors, which can be knocked off their hinges, there isn’t much room to maneuver, especially with four players. You try moving furniture in a room that is just barely larger than four bodies. Placing new flooring requires precise coordination with your friends, as each square becomes unavailable to walk across for a few moments. More than once, players have become trapped, and while it is temporary, the race against the clock is ever-present.
Tools Up! is a local-only cooperative four-player game that doesn’t quite hit the mark with all of the mechanics. Throwing feels useless when your character refuses to complete the action, and targeting can be a concern in tight corridors. Playing alone can best be described as frustrating, to the point where I wouldn’t even recommend the game at all unless you are planning to play with others. The lack of online multiplayer doesn’t help either.Note: Tools Up! was reviewed on PlayStation 4. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.