Review: Tiny Brains
Title: Tiny Brains
Platform: PS3/PS4/PC (Played on PC)
Developer: Spearhead Games
Publisher: 505 Games
Release date: Out now!
TL;DR: Average game that provides a lot of laughs when played co-op.
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Tiny Brains, a named coined by their mad Soviet scientist are four animals, each blessed with a unique ability. One can push objects, one can pull objects, one has an ability to swap it’s location with an object and finally one is able to produce a block of ice. You can then trigger the ice to help jump higher. From these brief descriptions I hope you can guess the nature of the game. It’s a puzzle platformer where you manipulate objects. Two in fact, a battery or a ball.
During gameplay you can change between the animals at your will, granting you the ability of each animal. All puzzles beyond the introduction need a combination of the powers to succeed. In terms of controls there’s not many to learn. You can use your power, jump, move or switch animal. There’s 360 controller input on the PC which I used but keyboard and mouse work equally well.
The story isn’t that complex at all and it won’t win any awards for it’s lacklustre attempt at one. Created by a soviet scientist the levels are a way of testing the animals abilities. Until you manage to escape to an older lab and start to make your own way. The story does develop a little further on down the line but I had a big problem with the abrupt end of the game which seems to have been stitched on just to finish the levels.
The levels themselves aren’t too challenging, you can work out what you need to do fairly quickly and the only challenge comes from the dexterity parts where you’re trying to keep a ball from falling off the edges. There are combat sections that see enemies attack you while you have to defend an ally. These are a nice break between the levels but eventually also become repetitive. There’s little difference between each fight, and while parts can get frenzied when a big baddy comes along overall the fights are fairly easy.
I would love if there had been a bit more complexity added to the levels, I found very few to give any actual difficulty, a couple needed to be correctly thought through but this was easily done. As this can be played as a single player I would hazard that balancing the accessibility for one player and challenge is fairly difficult. This game would have made a great 3D Sokoban (google it kids) if it had tried.
The art style is interesting, but if not a little outdated at this point. Perhaps I’ve become spoilt and demanding though. I don’t think the graphics detract from the gameplay but it just seems very Playstation 1 era for me personally. The levels become fairly repetitive design wise after a while though, that’s quite impressive considering the short game time. A change in environment might have helped keep the game fresh throughout. It’s a similar vein to Portal 2 where you get outside the story designed levels but you don’t get the immersion on the outside that you do with Portal 2.
So, a story that’s not impressive, levels that aren’t too complicated and visually the game barely hits par. This game isn’t a classic and it’s never going to go into my top ten. However, there’s definitely something about it. A magical quality that can only be found in great co op games. I sat down and completed the game in one sit through with my friend and we had so many laughs. The frantic-ness of the ball levels along with us timing our powers just right to annoy the other (all in the name of banter) really made this great fun.
In single player, this game has nothing to offer, it’s a solid ok, but literally as soon as you get just one other friend the game opens up in such a fun way. The PC option even has local co op which is such a rarity these days but is greatly appreciated if you’ve got a big enough monitor or using Big Picture in the living room. We struggled to get into the same game at first but this was quickly overcome.
The game is a short two hours long, even with a bit of mucking around this can barely be stretched to the three hour marker. Thankfully Spearhead Games has added in a few more game modes for you to enjoy. There’s Jules Mode which grants you one life, but all four abilities at once. Tiny Challenges and Tiny Soccer provides more fun challenges with the ball, needing to gracefully dribble the ball to complete the level. Finally there is Tiny Trolls, this gives you the chance to replay the levels but with friendly fire turned on. I can only imagine how much laughter and potential friendship ruining this mode can provide.
I can wholeheartedly recommend Tiny Brains if you’ve got a few friends to play it with. We managed to complete the main story mode in about two hours so it’s not of great length. The amount of fun we had was worth it though and if you do spot this in a Steam sale I suggest you grab it. If you’re struggling to get some friends together though this is a definite avoid.
- Absolute laugh when played co op
- Errrr….really fun in co op?
- Short, reptitive story mode
- Grim when played single player.