Review

Tiny Brains

Puzzling Without Polish
by Kyle Hilliard on Dec 06, 2013 at 10:29 AM
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Spearhead Games
Release:
Rating: Everyone 10+
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Also on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

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.

Using The New Hardware
The lights on the PlayStation 4 controllers correspond to the color character you are currently playing. It’s a nice touch, but it can also be helpful when things get chaotic and you forget which animal you are controlling. The touchpad on the controller can be used to pull up an arrow to point to elements of the level, which is useful when trying to negotiate puzzle-solving tasks among multiple players. Lastly, your Vita can be used as an additional controller.

Tiny Brains

Tiny Brains has some fun puzzles, but a lack of polish makes it difficult to enjoy.

5.75
i
Game Informer's Review System
Concept Four different animals with different abilities combine their powers to solve puzzles
Graphics The art style is unappealing, and it does absolutely nothing to take advantage of the PlayStation 4’s graphical horsepower
Sound The music has subtle traces of dubstep. If you’re not a fan of the genre, you won’t find it grating, and may even enjoy it
Playability The difficult puzzles that require careful and quick timing (or rolling a giant ball) are sloppy. Normal movement and using your abilities is otherwise functional
Entertainment Some clever puzzles showcase glimmers of smart design, but overall this is an unpolished adventure with moments of unnecessary frustration
Replay Moderate