Since the launch of the PS4 a few weeks ago, the console has been in huge need for a good four-player party game to bring people together in an extremely fun online/offline experience. Developer Spearhead Games and their first ever game, Tiny Brains, more than satisfies that itch. A puzzle game that will have kids of the ’90s thinking Pinky and the Brain—this game brings a lot of great ideas to the currently lacking PS4 library. But is it worth spending your money on?
Tiny Brains takes place in an evil laboratory someplace, where a mad scientist and his army of baby chicks are out to get four lowly mice who are on the run. It won’t be an easy task to escape, however, as the doctor has placed all sorts of traps, puzzles, and minions throughout each level. It will be up to Dax, Minsc, Pad, and Stew to combine their tiny brains and make it out of the lab alive. Dax is responsible for pushing objects away from himself, while Minsc can create an ice block to gain the high ground. Pad uses his power to switch places with an object and Stew can pull things towards him.
The story missions consist of four different levels that will have you working together to move from room to room. One room might have you switching places with a power cell, then pulling it across an opening and into the power outlet. Then the next room will have you pushing and pulling a rolling ball through a maze of obstacles. Each level has a lot of unique puzzles to figure out that are fairly easy with multiple people playing but grow in difficulty when you are by yourself. The levels are not impossible to do alone, but the game greatly favors those that band together through online or offline co-op.
Once you finish all of the story missions, you will unlock the ability to replay each mission in the modes Tiny Trolls and Jules. In the Tiny Trolls mode, friendly fire has been enabled, turning each story level into an epic mouse tug-o-war that will have you and your friends laughing nonstop. Players will take on the role of a new mouse in the Jules Mode. Here, you are left to play the game alone with all four powers at your fingertips. However, the catch is you only have one life at your disposal to complete the level. Both of these modes do a good job of extending the gameplay and challenging the player.
The remaining two options for playtime are Tiny Soccer and Challenges. In Soccer, you can play two-on-two, trying to push and pull the ball into the goal. It can be a lot of fun, though, it can only be played in offline co-op, killing it for those without enough controllers, Vitas, or friends (aww). The challenge levels are where the real fun of the game lies. Trying with friends to move a ball through rotating levels, keeping it from falling through the holes or glass panels while going for the longest distance is an absolute blast. I found myself sitting there for hours with a few friends just trying to top our longest attempt on each challenge level. There are not a lot of challenges here, but the ones that are will have you coming back for more.
Tiny Brains works great through multiplayer, however, there were a few obvious kinks. While you can invite three players into a challenge level, if you exit that level to try another, you must re-invite everyone back into your party. It would have been nice to have a party system that took you to each challenge together, but as a smaller game, it is a minor hiccup. The levels run smooth with four online players going at one time, with very little slow down and not very many connection issues. As a host, you can also fill some of the spots on your online team with local players, which is a nice touch. The only real PS4-centric option to the game is using the touchpad online to point a direction, since the game does not feature built in voice chat. However, a party chat quickly remedies this and makes the touchpad option obsolete.
On the presentation side of things, the game looks solid, yet unremarkable. It is far from an ugly game, however, there is nothing here that really screams PlayStation 4. The world is nice and bright and the character models are kind of adorable. The audio side of this game is pretty good, with quirky dialog from the mad scientist and a mildly addictive main track that plays throughout. It is that sort of tune that is just perfect for an addictive puzzle game, which this is through the challenge modes.
Tiny Brains is an excellent addition to the PlayStation 4 lineup. While the game is a little on the short side (main story completed in 2 hours tops), it makes up for that lack of length with creativity and charm. The challenge levels are an absolute riot to tackle with friends, whether they are in different parts of the world or sitting on you sofa. The game could use a bit of downloadable content to beef up the game and in-game player audio would be nice. At the end of the day though, Tiny Brains has delivered the best multiplayer experience I have had on the PS4 so far, and brings me back to the fun co-op days of Scott Pilgrim and Castle Crashers.