Tiny Brains (PS4) Hands-on Preview – Indie Developers Sure Love to Make Great Games

Now that the PS4 is almost here, the floodgates have opened to unleash a torrent of impressive launch day titles in an attempt to lure gamers away from the competition. There are some major players leading the pack, including the new Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty and Battlefield additions, but Sony has also promised since day one that they’re throwing major support behind indie developers and it looks like they’re going to deliver.

Coming out of the Montreal-based developer Spearhead Games on launch day is Tiny Brains, a 4-player puzzle based PSN title that was originally planned for a PS3 release. The story involves a crazy Russian scientist who has developed the Tiny Brains, a pack of genetically enhanced lab animals who have adapted super powers as a result of all the excessive experimentations. Working cooperatively, you solve your way through levels as you rely on combined efforts between you and your teammates. Each level can be solved multiple ways with every unique skill requiring its’ use.

I had the chance to play Tiny Brains at PAX Prime a couple of weeks ago and I had a wicked awesome time. The booth was set up like a little laboratory complete with white coats worn by the dev team and they even brought a couch so we could all get comfy. Couch aside, the best part was that they were showing the game on an actual PS4 which meant I got my hands on the new Dualshock 4. It was one of the defining moments of my life given my infinity for the PlayStation brand. It also showed off some of the new features on the controllers, like how the controller’s LED colour corresponded to the colour of your character on the screen. In a hectic multiplayer game I found this to be a great feature. As a whole the controller just felt great and I can see a long and fruitful relationship ahead for us in the future. But I digress.

In a word, Tiny Brains is just straight up fun. The characters, level designs and voice acting work together perfectly to make this a blast to play. In addition to the campaign, which is set to last around 3-4 hours, there will also be a bunch of challenges and bonus levels that will available at launch. During my preview time I played two levels and one of the challenges, and given what I played I can’t wait to see what new content will be added after launch because it was all awesome to play. The levels and challenge were simple in concept while still being tricky to execute. I have to say they had me wanting more. I was playing with group of three who knew each other, so I was the odd man out but it was still a lot of fun.

Tiny Brains will be a great addition to the online community because it requires you to communicate and work together as a team, so there’s no room to be an elitist dick. That being said, when playing with friends it will be a great opportunity to mock and scorn the member of your team who fails to deliver and costs you the game. One of the coolest features is the ‘jump-in-and-play’ ability of the game, and if a player drops out the level it automatically adapts to make up for the lack of that characters powers instead of sticking you with janky AI. With frustrating AI being the pitfall of many puzzle or platformers this was a great choice to up the quality of play.

The game no doubt gets its infectious energy from its team of developers who seemed to be enjoying every second of their demo with those playing. Most of them came from Ubisoft Montreal and EA and they decided to form a studio of their own to allow them to take more risks with the games they create. They’re indie darlings and it’s easy to see why Sony plucked them from the pack to be one of the launch titles for the next-gen systems. I’m a big fan of indie devs, and PlayStation caught on quickly to realize that indie titles are going to play a huge part in the next-gen systems. Tiny Brains will also be available on Steam, and although they’ve been trying to work with Microsoft to deliver it on the Xbox One as well, they say the indie support just hasn’t been as good across the way. The console war will continue to rage on with no end in sight but for those with their PS4 pre-orders locked safely away, I definitely recommend trying out Tiny Brains when November 15 rolls around.