Tiny Brains hands-on preview

Tiny Brains is a cartoony cooperative puzzle game for the PlayStation 4 that’s set to be released at launch, and it’s being developed by Spearhead Games out of Montreal. Recently, I had the opportunity to play an extensive demo of the game. I played co-op with three other players and had a blast. My hands-on impressions are not indicative of the final product as I was playing an incomplete build.

Tiny Brains is about a scientist who creates a group of miniature monsters. Each of the tiny monsters has its own special ability. The purple bat monster can force push objects and enemies, the blue monster can create ice walls, and the red monster can teleport and essentially trade places with an object. The red monster can also swap places with another player depending on the game mode. Finally, the green monster can pull objects (and/or players) towards it. Each monster has a specific purpose within the game, and playing each part correctly ensures progression.

The main storyline involves you, and possibly three other players, going through a series of chambers. Each chamber contains a different puzzle to complete, and the puzzles get harder as the game progresses. The game features couch co-op, which means that you and three friends can each play a different part. The game even allows for players to drop in and out instantly without affecting everyone else. When a player leaves or enters the game, the level will compensate for that loss. Boxes and other items will be dropped into levels in order to aid you. Tiny Brains can also be played online, just in case you don’t have enough people around. Don’t worry if you want to play by yourself however: Tiny Brains has a single player mode, however it’s best experienced in a co-op setting. What’s great is that no matter how many people are playing, the puzzles can still be solved. In fact, sometimes they can be solved in multiple ways, and experimenting with your powers can lead to some awesome and hilarious results. A lot of the charm of the game comes from its restrictions. Each player is only able to do one specific thing, which makes you rely on the team. It creates situations where players are tripping over each other in order to solve the puzzle in hilarious circumstances. The game also doesn’t punish you for dying, taking away any frustration that might build up when you are trying to kick back with friends.

Check out more on the game’s controls and mini-games after the page break.


The game uses both analog sticks to control your character. The left stick controls motion while the right controls direction. It plays a lot like a twin stick shooter and uses R2 to execute abilities. If you’re not too good using both sticks at the same time, the game lets you use the face buttons for your abilities instead.

Aside from the main game, Tiny Brains has a slew of mini-games to play. One of the mini-games takes place inside of a giant spinning tube, where players work together to keep a ball from falling through the many holes in the tube. Another mini-game involves keeping a ball from falling into lava. The players and the ball are located on a giant spinning platform where the obstacles change from time to time; this mini-game didn’t seem much different from the previous tunnel mode. The last mini-game I got a chance to play was the soccer mode. In soccer mode, four players are drafted into teams of two and each player has all the powers available in the game and a regenerating power bar. The goal is to beat the other team in a game of soccer by using the super powers. It sounds awkward, but it was actually a lot of fun. The secret collectibles in Tiny Brains are wedges of cheese. By collecting cheese, players can unlock secret levels and other goodies.

Tiny Brains uses the special features of the Dual Shock 4 to its advantage. Depending on what character you are playing, the light bar will change to reflect that, exactly how the PlayStation Move wands did. If you are playing as the purple bat, the light bar will become purple and etc. The light bar’s brightness goes down once you use your ability, and it will slowly regain brightness until your cool down is complete. Tiny Brains also uses the touch pad on the Dual Shock. You’ll be able to point at objects in game using the pad, but in the build I demoed, I wasn’t able to use this feature.

Tiny Brains will be available on November 15th, 2013 for the PlayStation 4, and will cost $19.99.