Monday, January 12, 2009


Windows Media Visualiser: The GameBrainpipe - playfully dubbed "The Game That Should Not Be!" by its creators at Digital Eel - seems less like a game made in 2008 than it does a relic of the early 90s Amiga demo scene.

The priority here is the experience - hallucinatory colours, trance inducing music, and an always-growing sense of speed. The player rushes down a brightly lit tunnel, dodging obstacles and collecting tokens while continually accelerating.

This is one of those games that should be all about "the zone" - reaching a transcendental state of hyper-acuity where you're instinctively executing gameplay you would be incapable of doing consciously - but a host of small issues get in the way (at least for me).

One is that the game doesn't seem to enforce local mouse sensitivity, or if it does, it does it wrong. The game requires tiny precision movements to stay on track, but I found myself needing to do some wild swinging of the mouse just to get from one side of the tunnel to the other. There's no in-game option as far as I can tell to adjust this, either.

Also, there's no tutorial or explanatory in-game text, there's little sense of accomplishment attached to progress, and the menus (proudly featuring "creepy eyeball buttons") are like a prop from a lecture on how not to design an interface.

All those gripes aside, Brainpipe does nail its three key themes - sound, light, and motion - and that's part of the explantion of it being a 2009 Independent Games Fetival finalist. There's a free demo available through the Shrapnel Games website, which is worth a look, and if you like it more than I did you can get the full version for $15 US.

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