New console launches are exciting, but it’s hard to deny that after burning through the launch games available content can dry up pretty fast. This is the curse of the early adopter; no massive back catalog to keep you entertained. One of the few post-launch games launching before February for the PS4 is Spearhead Games’ Tiny Brains. While the game stumbles on a few key points, it may be worth your post-launch dollar.
Tiny Brains is a physics-based puzzle game built for co-op. Players control one of four rodents, each with their own special abilities. The bat can push, the hamster can generate a platform, the rabbit can pull, and the mouse can teleport. Our four (semi) furry heroes gained their powers through lab experiments, and must complete a series of experiments to gain their freedom. There isn’t much of a story behind this, but what’s present is entertaining. The narrative has a Portal-like tone, and will keep you smiling throughout.
Combining different physics-based abilities is the core mechanic in Tiny Brains. The game is built to support anywhere from 1-4 players. If you are playing alone you can (and will need to) quickly swap between all 4 characters. If you are playing with 4 players each of you will pick and stick with a character, and if you are playing with 3 or 2 players you can swap to whichever is available. The puzzles will change based on the number of players involved, creating a fairly engaging experience for any sized party.
While the game is fun in single player, the multiplayer is the focus here. Online and local options are available, but if you want to get the most entertainment out of the game I recommend you play with two or three local partners. Puzzles are moderately engaging, but won’t hit the difficulty level of more complex puzzle games. A few solutions are also used repeatedly across most of the puzzles. Many will require you to push a ball up some sort of slope, and several others involve standing on a platform and being launched across a gap. What keeps the game hilariously entertaining are all the mistakes you’ll make trying to complete these puzzles with your friends.
Unfortunately your fun will be fairly short lived. While story mode is somewhat replayable in co-op with different friends, it doesn’t make up for the campaign lasting only 2-3 hours. Other game modes are available for play, including an entertaining soccer game, and Jules mode. Jules possesses all four powers, but only one life. There’s also a “Troll” version of the story mode with friendly fire enabled. This is a solid amount of content for a PSN game, but the asking price is a steep $20. The game would have been better suited to a $15 or even $10 price tag.
Graphically, Tiny Brains won’t hold up next to the best of next generation visuals, but it hardly needs to. The colorful, bright artwork and cute/weird character designs make for a very visually pleasing experience. The music can be a little repetitive, but it’s good as well, as is the little bit of voice acting in the game.
If you’re a fan of party games and puzzle games, Tiny Brains may just be for you, but if you’re looking for the next game to hold you through the Winter release draught until the PS4’s next wave of big releases in February or March, this may not be the best bet. Tiny Brains is a solid puzzle game and a lot of fun with friends, but the high price, lack of puzzle variety, and short length hold it back from the PSN greats.
This review is based on a digital copy of Tiny Brains for the PS4, provided by the publisher.