Off to the rat race.
It always warms the heart to see the colossal conglomerate Sony supporting the indie community, as the company has in numerous press conferences, devoting at least one segment to revealing the variety of indie games planned for the PlayStation 4. Compare the expected launch line-ups of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 and there aren't many differences apart from about five titles, which suggests that Sony is banking somewhat on indie games to tip the scale in its favor. And Tiny Brains is a part of that plan.
While Tiny Brains will be the debut title for Spearhead Games, this isn't the first foray into gaming for the developer's co-founders. Malik Boukhira and Simon Darveau spent years polishing the Assassin's Creed franchise, and Atul Mehra had his hand in managing and developing Electronic Arts titles like Need for Speed. With their combined experience, Tiny Brains was finished in only a year, a worthy feat in and of itself, especially for a physics-based puzzle title with an emphasis on local cooperative play between four psychic animals.
As a team of adorable bite-sized animals, they must attempt to escape their mad scientist's crazy experiments by combining their powers: Pad (the rat) can instantly swap with any object on the same place, Minsc (the hamster) can create rectangular ice blocks that explode, Dax (the bat) can push objects with psychic force, and Stew (the rabbit) can pull thins with a vortex. Usually, puzzles require players to find a way to move a box trapped behind walls and across wide gaps onto a switch, which creates a lot of banter between friends on the couch. "Okay, how about you stand on the ice block, and I'll push it, and then as the block falls, she swaps with the box, and he pulls it?!"
This argument over makeshift solutions can last for several minutes, but with trial and error, a solution is always within reach. A part of this is thanks to the multiple solutions for a puzzle, allowing a team to be creative and experimental. Better yet, the difficulty of a puzzle is dynamic and dependent on how many players are present; if a puzzle requires the bat to force-push a block and he isn't there, it will change appropriately, maintaining the game's drop-in/drop-out multiplayer component.
So it goes without saying that teamwork matters, whether it means pushing a ball through obstacles and away from gaps in Challenge Mode, or chasing away evil chickens who would nothing better than to chomp on your friends. Sometimes the team must protect a small rat from a horde of chickens, who can be dispatched in numerous ways: pushing them down into a hole, smushing them with an ice block, or turning on a gas burner and lighting them on fire. Nothing like char-boiled birds to break up the puzzles.
Tiny Brains releases for PS4, PS3, and PC on November 15, 2013 for $19.99.