By: Casey Curran
Tiny Brains has one of the most hilariously random endings I have ever seen in a game. I do not want to spoil it, but even if the game was horrible it would be worth finishing just for that. Fortunately, however, the game is not horrible. In fact, Tiny Brains is pretty damn fun.
Tiny Brains keeps things simple using the left stick to move and the right stick to aim your psychic powers. The shoulder buttons are used for both jumping and using your powers, letting you aim without a break in the action. These powers include creating blocks of ice, pulling objects toward you, pushing objects away from you and switching places with an object –depending on which character you are playing as. When playing solo, the d-pad will let you switch between the four characters on the fly.
The game does occasionally offer a puzzle that requires more precision than the controls offer. These are mostly when guiding a giant ball that cannot fall off the edges or anything that involves launching an item into the air so you can then push it. These puzzles were not common, but they were frequent enough to frustrate.
Tiny Brains has a bright and colorful visual style that is a lot of fun to look at. Each of the four animals you play as has their own unique, crazy look that is painted their own neon color. These colors allow the characters to really pop out and help them overcome its very basic graphical prowess. The Dualshock 4 even changes its light’s color depending on who you play as, which is a nice touch.
The game’s music matches its science lab setting in a wonderfully bizarre fashion. The scientist in control also gives off a number of funny one liners in a method similar to GlaDos in Portal. While not quite matching the brilliance of Portal, the game is still very well written and offers a number of good laughs.
Puzzles in Tiny Brains come in a variety of flavors. These include moving a block to a designated area, moving a ball through an obstacle course, and defending a character from hordes of enemies. Moving blocks is the strongest of the three, as they put the four creatures’ powers to excellent use. There is a great amount of satisfaction from figuring out who to use in a puzzle and how to use their powers. The puzzles also encourage plenty of thinking outside the box, which made them even more satisfying.
Guiding the balls is fun, but it can get frustrating later on. The sections showcase the flaw of the character you will use most frequently. He pushes objects with telekinetic powers, yet only allows you to do so with one giant push. There are no softer pushes, so if you just need a nudge in one direction, you’re out of luck. This does make using the other characters more important, but it would work better if the sections employed areas where the other characters are more functional rather than making the most useful one very flawed. These sections are a minor aspect, however, so it does not hurt the game that much.
Defending sections are even less common, but by far the worst. These consist of either jumping on enemies, which is imprecise, or using powers to push or pull enemies into pits, which can be too time consuming. If an enemy is far away from a pit, luring them into one could take two or three pushes, which can hurt the flow of the fast-paced gameplay. Block puzzles take up about 80 percent of the game, however, and they’re strong enough to keep the game engaging despite the other two parts.
Unfortunately, Tiny Brains is light on content, even for a downloadable title. The game is only a few hours long, and the new game-plus modes don’t offer enough of a change to justify replaying puzzles you just figured out the answers to. If you play co-op the first run, you can justify a second run solo as there is some improvising required without other players to help you out. But sadly the game does not present any compelling reason to play multiplayer after a single-player run, with even the game’s soccer mode being a small distraction at best.
Tiny Brains is the kind of game that demonstrates how important pricing can be to a video game. It is a very fun game with some clever puzzles and a very charming style. It doesn’t offer enough content to justify its $20 price tag, however. So while it’s definitely worth it at $10 (and I can even make the argument for $15), $20 will be too much for many to pay considering what you get.