App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Devolver Digital is a publisher that goes out of its way to be somewhat goofy and tongue-in-cheek in virtually every aspect of its business. They have a fake CEO named Fork Parker. They make satirical press conferences for trade shows. They try very, very hard to be funny. Sometimes, they are! Other times, like with the case of Devolver Tumble Time--their brand new free-to-play mobile release--they just make some references to things that you might think are funny purely by being able to recognize them. It also doesn't help that this game makes you play through all of the bad free-to-play stuff that Devolver is supposedly trying to critique, which also isn't very fun.
Devolver Tumble Time is very clearly a free-to-play game that is meant to make fun of other free-to-play games. In it, you tap and release on character icons in a virtual tumbler and the more that connect when you pop them the greater the rewards. In each level, you have a goal to reach regarding matching a certain number of icons, which you'll want to complete before time runs out.
It's a very simple game that (perhaps intentionally) feels immediately familiar. There are thousands of games on the App Store that follow this structure. And, like them, Devolver Tumble Time loves to up the challenge by simply asking you to do more in the same amount of time, which inevitably leads to fail states where you can either opt to give up or watch an ad to get 10 seconds added to the clock.
Meta about monetization
Very early on into the game, Devolver Tumble Time gets very transparent about being a game about games. The tutorial character is Fork Parker, Devolver's fictional CEO, and he chimes in about how great it is to watch ads, let you know about games that got canceled due to not fitting an analytical model, and even steals collectibles from you if you end up having to complete a level using a character you haven't gotten from the in-game gacha machine yet.
Speaking of collectibles, there are six in-game currencies, many of which don't really seem to do anything, and as for the characters you unlock, none of them really seem to have meaningful differences between them. It's all just emulating monetization schemes that feel bad to deal with and trying to get a laugh out of presenting you with those things.
Look at this bad thing you now have to play/watch
The gags in Devolver Tumble Time could be funny, but there is one major problem with them: They aren't gags. The game doesn't drop its act of being a free-to-play nightmare. It just is one of those while giving a wink and a nod as if to say "doesn't this suck?" The answer, of course, is yes.
This makes Devolver Tumble Time not really a joke game. It's just acknowledging its bad monetization before asking you for money, and most directly asking specifically for $99.99 to "unlock everything." It doesn't matter if its timers have a low cooldown or the ads aren't real (just one boring, fake one), it's just a bad game. There's no real commentary or hidden layer to what it offers. It just comments on its own bad qualities.
The bottom line
There is nothing of value to be found in Devolver Tumble Time. It presents itself as a joke but it is both repetitive and unfunny. There is no meaningful critique happening either, as it just is the thing it sets out to make fun of, which is a monotonous, overly simple, poorly designed, and brazenly monetized time waster.