Tiny Brains review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC, PS3 (soon)
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Spearhead Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

I don’t normally consider price when writing about a game — after all, I am the guy who recommended both Angry Birds and Angry Birds Star Wars on consoles and handhelds — but in the case of Tiny Brains, I feel compelled to make an exception. Simply put: this game is a massive rip-off. It’s $20, and for that you get a whopping four levels, which include around fifty puzzles or so (in total, that is, not in each level), most of which can be beaten in a minute or two. It also includes a few extra bits and pieces of content — a soccer game that requires four controllers, some challenges that are basically repackaged bits of the main game, and a couple of harder modes — but nothing that really adds substantially to the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, what little content the game has is generally enjoyable. The puzzles may not be that difficult, but at the same time, there’s something wonderfully ego-boosting about tearing through room after room. Not only that, I really liked how the puzzles were designed to accommodate different ways of thinking; there were several times where I thought I was stuck and looked up the solution on YouTube, only for the answer to make other, simpler solutions seem blatantly obvious.

Tiny Brains 3

But at the same time — and I really can’t emphasize this enough — you can beat the game in a couple of hours. I’d say it took me about two and a half to beat the game playing by myself, maybe three if I’m being generous. Considering Tiny Brains is designed for multiplayer co-op, I suspect that the actual time required to beat it if you’re playing as Spearhead Games intended/are a lot more competent than I am is even lower than that. None of the puzzles are that challenging (except for the excruciating ball-rolling levels), and the game doesn’t get noticeably harder the further in you get. It starts off easy and it mostly stays easy to the end, up to and including the absurdly simple boss battle.

Which isn’t to say Tiny Brains is completely devoid of frustrating bits. As I said, there are a few ball-rolling levels that will probably drive you crazy on account of how unpredictable the balls can be (to say nothing of how much harder these levels are compared to the rest of the game). Additionally, if you’re playing solo, then expect to get annoyed every so often by how quickly you’re expected to switch between characters — it’s rarely anything that requires twitchy fingers, but there are one or two places where you have to think and act quickly.

Tiny Brains 1

And, of course, above all else, there’s that price. That, more than anything else, is what’s truly frustrating about Tiny Brains. I mean, I totally get that the App Store and Google Play have completely altered/distorted perceptions of what “fair pricing” constitutes when it comes to games, but still: there’s pretty much no scenario in which $20 for 3(ish) hours of slightly above-average content makes sense. Maybe consider it if/when the game gets a significant discount, but until that day, pass.

Grade: C+