CASTLE OF DR. BRAIN, THE / Sierra / PC

Dr. Brain is sort of an early progenitor of games like Myst and The 7th Guest, just stripped down and without all the CD bloat (and with a more whimsical tone.) Oddball genius/mad scientist Dr. Brain invites you (playing as some random kid) out to his island for purposes not explained within the game. But to prove yourself worthy of seeing him, you've got to solve your way through a series of logic puzzles, one room at a time.

The graphics are decent, as is the music, and the whole game has a fairly neat comic/horror vibe to it, a little more lively than your standard puzzle collection - picture the puzzles of Professor Layton in the framework of an old VGA Sierra adventure and you've got this one. The problem - at least for me - is that the game is wholly linear. You proceed from one room to the next, and have to solve a set series of puzzles in each to proceed to the next.

Why is this a problem? Well, for one, it kills replay value. There's three settings of difficulty that vary up the puzzle complexity somewhat, but it's always the same puzzles in the same order. The other major problem - and the one that turned me sour on the game rather fast - is that if you run into a puzzle type that you abhor, there's nothing left to do with the game until you drudge your way through it. In my case, I hate sliding tile puzzles and Sudoko - and guess what two are required to proceed past the first room of the castle? There's Hint Coins that sometimes grant hints on a puzzle, and sometimes make moves for you or even allow you to skip it, but there's no guarantee of getting a problematic or annoying puzzle solved for you.

I think Dr. Brain is thus highly subjective to whether or not you like newspaper-style puzzles, and if you don't mind a game that you basically are only going to play through once before the effective value of it is exhausted. If you can deal with that limitation, however, everything else about it is done pretty well.


Dr. Brain is such a hipster, he was into Sudoko 10 years before it was cool.


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