You play as one or all, (depending on whether you are engaging in some couch co-op or rolling solo), of four mutated creatures, bred to be the next step in evolution. Each of these animals has a unique power which have to be utilised in order to solve increasingly more complex puzzle rooms.
Dax the Ultrasonic Bat has the power to push items at high speed with his cry, Minsc the cold fusion hamster can create and manipulate large blocks of supercooled air which can be utilised to navigate the environment, Pad the mouse with the Quantum brain can instantly swap positions with any item in the environment he can target and finally Stew, the hyper-charged Rabbit can use his magnetic skills to draw items towards him. If playing solo, pressing the dpad in the direction attached to the color of each character will allow you to instantly swap between them. You are then free to use the Push/Pull/Swap and Navigate skills with impunity to traverse each room. Playing co-op, swapping is limited to unselected characters so team work is a must to succeed.
Gameplay, as you can probably imagine, is primarily puzzle based. At key points throughout the game, you will find yourself in Boss Fights which are
combat rooms where you will need to utilise skill combinations to defeat the waves of mutant baby chickens that form part of the plot of the game. The puzzles in the game start extremely simple giving you a good progress in how to utilise the individual skills, but as things progress and you begin to need to link two, three of all of the different powers to solve the puzzle they can become deviously fiendish, but at no point frustrating.
The plot itself is extremely simple, and has you attempting to escape your test prison with the aid of Pinky, a fluffy pink (go figure) baby chick, that breaks you out of the maze constructed by your mad Russian scientist master. The scientist character acts as narrator throughout, and some of his dialogue is brilliant, self deprecating and self referential, adding more than just a little bit of a satirical feel to proceedings.
Graphically, Tiny Brains has a distinctly dark comic feel to it. Dax, Minsc, Pad and Stew are each a grotesque dichotomy of the genetically modified animals they represent. While they are decidedly creepy, they are also incredibly cutely drawn and animated. Whether this be the exposed brain pan of Pad, or the negative/positive signs on each of Stew’s ears its obvious the design on the characters has had a lot of thought and care put into them.
Sadly, my biggest complaint about this game is its short life span. A single run through of the story took me a mere 2 hours, and though there is a plethora of mini games and new game + options available, most people would find it hard to justify the cost against the returns.
As mentioned, there are a few mini games to try out, each of which utilise the core characters mechanics to great effect. Whether its using any of the abilities in the football game, or picking one character and seeing how far up a crumbling pipe your character can move a ball, there is some fun to be had here in the mini games, and the Jules (hardcore) mode will test your skills to the limits as it restricts you to a single life for the entire story.
Tiny Brains is the first release from Spearhead games, an indie team based in Montreal and drawbacks aside, I feel this is an accomplished first title.
Overall, this is a fun little game, that is sadly too short for my liking.
MLG Rating: 6/10 Format: PlayStation 4 Release Date: 29/11/13
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Tiny Brains for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of three days on a PlayStation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.