The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
You can play Tiny Brains alone, but this puzzle game is built for co-op. You combine the unique powers of four rodents in different ways to move through a lab. You can play by yourself, switching between the rodents, or with up to three other players.
The game isn’t necessarily made easier with the addition of more players, but it does deliver a true cooperative experience requiring communication.
One of the rodents can push objects and another can create ice blocks, for example. These powers can be combined where one rodent makes an ice block, another stands on it, and a third pushes the block. This is a way to cross chasms to reach switches or buttons, and combining these powers to solve puzzles is where the game shines. Solo players control each of the rodents individually, and swapping is fluid and assisted by some of the PlayStation 4’s new hardware tricks (see below).
Many of the puzzles are strong and combine the assorted abilities in novel ways, but the absence of polish is difficult to ignore. Enemies clip through each other constantly, and on a few occasions my puzzle solving team and I weren’t sure where we were or why the environment was changing.
Non-puzzle levels require you to protect secondary characters from attacking enemies or move a rolling ball from point A to point B. These levels are frustrating and exacerbated by bugs. Late in the game while trying to roll a ball up an angled path to a goal, I got stuck in shattered glass, eventually forcing a restart and the need to replay a number of levels.
Tiny Brains isn’t without merit. When all the powers combine to unlock a path through a level, especially when you’ve done it with the assistance of friends, the game comes together. Moments of interesting presentation appear here and there, but too many other aspects of Tiny Brains are sloppy and incomplete.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.