Updated: Brainsss Review

Brainsss has been updated to version 1.5, bringing with it some new options and features that address some of the issues we initially had with the game.

Two of our biggest problems with the game were difficulty maneuvering your zombies into separate groups to close in on victims, and having to manually move the camera constantly. Rather than address these issues directly, the developers have instead incorporated a new “Casual” mode, dubbing the other one “Strategic.”

In Casual mode, you only need to touch where your zombies need to go, with no need to split the group or move the camera on your own. It actually plays out much better than the original mode, but does not seem to utilize Achievements as the Strategic mode does. In fact, Strategic mode feels largely the same with the same issues regarding camera and moving groups of zombies around as before, only now it feels a little more patronizing with the “more intelligent” name and Achievements, as though it’s placing the blame on the player for having difficulty reaching their goals.

Other new features included in the update include iCloud saving, camera zooming, unlockable Hero zombies, the ability to save your zombie groups, and… golf carts. Overall, it’s a better game now, though not really enough to budge it from the already solid 3 we had given it previously.

Oh, look… another zombie game. Yippee. But wait; unlike most other games about slicing, dicing, shooting, blasting, blowing up, beheading, and otherwise turning these hordes of mindless flesh-eaters into ground dead meat, Brainsss actually turns the tables and encourages you to help the zombies sate their hunger by putting you in control of them. So, that’s a refreshing twist that helps set the game apart from others following the craze… at least, for the time being.

Helping this along is a charming aesthetic that reminds us slightly of the Muppets. This is clearly not a game that takes itself too seriously, as the walking undead chow down on the innocent “normals” in a less-than-graphic fashion. Though actually (and a little disappointingly), the game itself isn’t all that humorous. Sure, there might be some amusing soundbytes here and there, but the gameplay is straightforward, and there isn’t a lot of banter or visual humor during the course of the game.

There goes the neighborhood.

The goal is simple: you control a group of zombies, and your goal is to turn all of the humans in an area into more zombies. As one might expect, most of the humans are not especially keen on this idea, and so you must give chase. Some are faster or more violent (read: deadly) than others, and so you must strategize in order to get your rotting mitts on them.

Cornering them in an alley (some come pre-cornered) is one good way, though others will keep ahead of you and run around a city block all night if given the chance. In such cases, you’ll need to divide and conquer, performing a pincer maneuver that traps them on two fronts. Or in the case of characters like armed police officers, who can outright re-kill your army, you’ll have to simply build your forces enough to overwhelm him– ideally from behind.

Unfortunately, some control issues can hinder your effectiveness, especially in trying to win bonuses for completing the levels within a certain amount of time. Your hordes move together, and rather tightly at that, which can oftentimes make splitting your group (by highlighting only some with your finger) to pursue your quarry all the more cumbersome. Rather than targeting certain humans for pursuit, you’ll touch where you want them to go, and they’ll stop immediately when they reach that point, despite the human(s) continuing on unabated.

Blood on the dance floor.

This can also be complicated further by your horde not always taking the route you want them to take. For example, when you want your group to go around both sides of a building, they might sometimes opt to go around the same side. A control scheme more along the lines of drawing a path for them to follow might have been ideal. And then there’s the matter of conducting the other part of your swarm, which can be difficult due to trying to highlight them, and instead accidentally redirecting the group you just sent on their way.

Topping all of this off is the camera. Areas are frequently larger than one screen, and you have to move the camera manually, or else the zombies cannot proceed past the edge. But doing so requires two fingers moving at once, and it can just feel a little trickier than it needs to– especially as the hunted humans are gaining ground while you’re fiddling with your viewpoint.

Despite the grievances listed here, Brainsss still remains fun, and even a little addictive. It could certainly be improved upon, but as it is, it’s a fun game that manages to freshen up the whole zombie thing by putting the shoe on the other mangled foot for a change.

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