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Brain Cell


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Rating: 3.2/5 (99 votes)
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JoshBrain CellBrain Cell is the brain child (pun definitely intended) of Ryan Gibson for the U.K.-based development team DESQ, an organization devoted to the development of Web-based and digital learning projects. In a recent attempt to contribute to casual gaming, DESQ released Brain Cell in the hopes of enhancing your typical room escape game and taking it to the next level. In many ways, it succeeds; featuring a gorgeous (yet bandwidth-intensive) take on the usual point-and-click, room escape genre.

Like many other games of this kind, you awake in a strange room, clueless of who you are or how you got there. In the case of Brain Cell, you begin in a futuristic cargo hold, (sort of "space marine" setting), surrounded by cryogenic hibernation beds and strange spaceship-like gadgets. Controls are fairly simple; [arrow] keys to move, [N] and [M] to strafe and the spacebar to use/interact. The most prominent aspect of the game that immediately catches the eye is the 3D rendering and modeling. You have a third-person view of your character, with a beautifully textured environment surrounding you, complete with dynamic reflections and lighting effects.

When you approach an object you can interact with, a magnifying glass appears in the upper-right corner, signaling you to push the spacebar. Depending on the object, 3D cut scenes or mini-games appear. Cut scenes give you clues about the object or your surroundings, while the mini-games are the means to help you escape. Similar to other games in the genre, Brain Cell never hints or nudges you in the right direction. Although linear in game play, there are no road signs along the way to make your job any easier. The mini games can be frustrating at times (although they require critical thinking, the underlying logic isn't wrapped up into a pretty box and handed to you).

Analysis: Brain Cell's puzzle-solving elements are nothing new to the genre, although the 3D engine allows much more immersion into the game than older classics like Crimson Room. Unlike its predecessors though, Brain Cell seeks to break the mold somewhat, attracting gamers who might otherwise not give "escape" games a chance. The whole "Starcraft/Warhammer40k/Doom"-style of the character and environment lends itself nicely to the third-person feel of the game, enticing new players of the genre to give the game a shot, which is what the developers were striving for. On the flipside, such a graphically-intensive flash game requires lots of bandwidth. The game can be launched in a 9MB low-bandwidth or 13MB high bandwidth version. Either way, however, expect to wait awhile, even with a broadband connection. Even more annoying is that the cut-scenes and mini-games aren't cached into memory, meaning when you click to interface with one, it takes even more time to load in-game. Waiting for these elements to load gets tiresome, and distracts from the overall experience.

All-in-all, Brain Cell is a commendable effort, hopefully paving the way for more third-person games of this genre. After all, wouldn't a Flash-based, fully-3D, first-person escape game be something to see some day?

Play Brain Cell

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37 Comments

VDOgamez April 28, 2008 8:27 PM

That was horrible. I rarely dislike a game this much, as far as games that have been recomended... (The Newgrounds portal can be much worse :)) There was no escape game structure, just a couple of puzzles that were not even original. The character is... disturbing... and the game is slow. I would rather watch ice melt than play this game again. Even the graphics were not very good. No offence to the makers of this game, but if you are trying to test a new idea for a game, make it FUN!

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Honestly, if you paid attention to the first comment you would think that this game was the flash version of getting a root canal. Although the puzzles were not original and the game play was not fantastic, you have to hand it to the developers for trying something new. My only real problem with this game (well problems, 2), the horrible voiceover (sounds kind of like a tracheotomy recipient) and how quickly it was over. Definitely better than watching ice melt though IMO.

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I'm stuck in the engineering bay minigame. I've pulled the center lever, the left one, the right one, and now I'm pulling the center one again. I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing or how to get out of this minigame.

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The game is reminds me of the FF7 cut scenes. It was over too quick though, and the the puzzles are original but easy. Considering you want to give gamers new to the puzzles a chance, I'd say it is good for them, but not the experienced people. I don't know what's up with all the easy point & clicks lately (even though it is NOT a point & click, it has many features that make it one, so the genre should be changed to escape games now), but I am certainly enjoying it. It may give a feeling of satisfaction that one craves from accomplishment.

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Extremely long loading times in order to get terribly outdated 3D graphics in flash. Oh boy.

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Konrad--

you need to figure out the pattern to light up the circle around you. Notice how when you get one right, it lights up, but if you dont, it turns off...

Im at the control center puzzle and I cant figure it out.
Help please?

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An interesting demonstration of the engine, but the innovation is slightly overshadowed by the load times and painfully standard gameplay. Also, if an object isn't useful, I don't like having to sit through a load screen only to find that out. Still, this concept is bound to be improved upon in the future, and I'm excited to see the results.

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Nvm...I figured it out...

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Although the puzzles were not original and the game play was not fantastic, you have to hand it to the developers for trying something new.

So, what did they try that was new? Like you said, the puzzles weren't new. Slow, stiff movement in a bland environment has been done a thousand times before. Bad voice acting isn't new. Load times aren't new. And, sadly, slapping fancy technology on top of completely uninspired and derivative gameplay is not at all new.

Games like this completely misunderstand all that is good about gaming. What little good there is in them is typically there by accident, or is directly copied from earlier, better games.

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Wow, you weren't kidding about those long loading times.
-blarg

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Painorama Author Profile Page April 28, 2008 10:48 PM

This game was much better than the initial comments.

The BIGGEST reason this game is different from all the old Diablo environment games is, that it is a FLASH game. Being that this game was new, it would be better served if it said it was a beta-game.
I didn't have the slow load times at all, though I was using the high bandwidth. I know the games were alittle on the easy end, but the game has alot of potential, and I give the programmer high marks on a first try.

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Much too short and much too easy to be really good. Granted, I like intuitive puzzles, but I also like them to make me think, and solving the whole game took... 15 minutes? Also have to agree with the other criticisms raised (bad VA, unimpressive graphics, etc.).

For those who need a walkthrough (since it's easy enough to replay this game and I feel like doing this):

  • Puzzle #1 = Engineering Bay levers. You should see a bunch of rectangles in a rotating circular pattern overlaying the display of your character and the three levers, as well as a pulsing blue dot over the selected lever. The way this gig works is that if you pick the right lever for the current 'lock', it opens, and if you pick the wrong one, all the 'locks' reset. Picking the right lever also causes one of the rectangles (which represent the 'locks') to go from transparent to opaque blue. From here, it's simply a matter of trial and error, as the solution is different each time you play through the game.

  • Puzzle #2 = Capsule 13 lights out puzzle. This involves getting all 8 lights to be 'on', or in other words to contain a small blue ball. Note that if you can get all the lights to go out that you can switch all the lights to the on position by simply clicking the middle (this can also work for getting the board to a state where one click will turn the board off/on).

  • Puzzle #3 = Computer Navigation puzzle. This should be really familiar to anyone who's played ice levels in Chip's Challenge (or a number of other things, as this has been done a zillion times). For those who *haven't* seen this before, the object of the game is to get the solid blinking square to the X square without touching any of the walls. The other squares are blockades which will keep you from touching the walls, and which will also help you get to the goal. The arrows, fairly enough, denote which way your avatar square will move (so pay attention to the highlights). The boards here *appear* to be simply rotated to resist walkthrough potential, but since I don't have quite the interest to test that theory I'll simply say that none of the boards I went through were really challenging.

  • After this, just walk to the door and use it to see the 'ending'.

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Stoned Gamer Author Profile Page April 28, 2008 11:20 PM

I must disagree with the negative comments about this game! I rather enjoyed it, it was a bit slow with overused puzzles, but it loaded EXTREMELY fast for me and enjoyed the 3d look to a point and click room escape!

@ Alice: The "new" part of it was a new engine. I forgot what it was called.

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Tough crowd to please :-)

Overall, I enjoyed it. The puzzles are a bit longer than necessary perhaps, but the 3D presentation made it worthwhile.

As Ryan states on the Making of Brain Cell page, it is "STILL A PROTOTYPE IN MANY RESPECTS" and a "FIRST STEP TOWARDS CREATING A TRULY IMMERSIVE 3D GAME ENVIRONMENT WITHIN FLASH". I think it does that very well.

Unfortunately, I think that the fact that it's being done in Flash, and the logistics required to make that happen will be moot issues to most players. All they want obviously is a fast loading, smooth running and fun game. To those people i would say... Enjoy the BETA test and being part of the experiment.

Good Luck DESQ.

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@ Alice: The "new" part of it was a new engine. I forgot what it was called.

3D engines aren't new. Having one in flash isn't new. There may be something new and special about this engine in particular, but if so, it hasn't been shown yet. Just calling it "orthographic" does not make it something new.

(This comment is orthographic too! >.> )

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smjjames April 29, 2008 1:19 AM

way too easy IMO, I did it in like 10 minutes.

Also the comments made by the main character seem to be completely random.

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The load times were not that bad. I don't think it's the speed of your computer that matters, more the speed of your internet connection. I have a not-that-fast computer (celeron 4, 2.4 mhz), but a fast cable connection and had no loading problems.

The game itself was pretty lame, especially the writing. But if it was just an experiment in using this new 3d flash engine, then more power to him.

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Architectonic Author Profile Page April 29, 2008 8:51 AM

I rather enjoyed the immersion aspect of a 3D escape, even if the execution wasn't all that great. To get that level of graphics in Flash was pretty impressive, at least to me (who doesn't have a clue about the capabilities of Flash).

I wouldn't complain about seeing more games in this style - makes a change from all those with the "four-year-old's art project" graphics. :)

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some comments may vary, but I love the twist in the gameplay experience in room escape genre and this 3D flash game defenitly qualifies as a wel done job for me.

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I am reading the the really NEGATIVE remarks here. I agree with the fact that this one wasn't as much fun as other games on this site. I do know that a lot of work went into the creation of this game. I hope that the creators of this game will be able to continue to improve their work.

I love to play the old DOOM II games. I found a database several years ago that had game WADs made by other people. I have played many of them. Some are spectacular and some are mediocre and some are awful. I found a link to an application that can be used to create these WADs. So I decided that I would give it a try and create the best DOOM WAD ever. It was an abysmal failure and now I appreciate anyone who tries to create a game whether it is a DOOM WAD or Flash game.

So to the makers of this game, keep on working on it. I see lots of promise here.

:)

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queen-of-diamonds Author Profile Page April 29, 2008 3:18 PM

Wow, for those incredibly long loading times I was expecting something MUCH better. And I have a fast computer. I really didn't like it much, 3/5

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scoobysnack April 29, 2008 3:40 PM

Interesting. I kind of like the Diablo like interface ... however, the games got a bit monotonous (sp?).

I kept moving little boxes around expecting each time to be the last. Points for trying a new style in Flash, but not so exciting.

Scoobysnack

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I am unable to press the space bar to start the game. I did click on the browser to activate it.

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I liked it, fairly quick to load for me, easy to do, but yippie! I did an escape the room type game with no help at all, and no endless pixel search, new voice over and many more puzzles of a higher difficulty and mhopefully orginality are looked forward to here :)

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The game is kinda nice as a puzzle game, and even though the puzzles are a bit old, I had some fun solving them. Now, as an escape game, let's say you could have done better. I mean, there is only 1 item to get, and once you solve the first puzzle, the rest is as straight as... well, as straight as something that is very straight. As this is only a prototype, I hope there'll be more things to do, more items to find, and maybe a little something called "story".
As for the graphics, they are surprisingly bad for the size of the file, yet very nice when you remember that this is only a flash game. I guess 3D scenarios aren't very easy to build.

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I have software (iStat Menus) that shows me how fast data is coming in and going out on my Ethernet port. When this game is loading, it generally reads about 20 K/sec. My DSL can do 90 K/sec.

So, their advice to have a "fast internet connection" is meaningless (mine isn't particularly fast nowadays, and they're not even filling it), nor is it simply the size of the data. It's just their slow server or connection.

Of course, the JIG Effect probably isn't helping.

BTW, a note on clipping: If the player character is facing into the object at a angle, and he's two feet away from it, he can probably walk around it. He is not impeded by it, despite the game's insistence that he is.

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The game is OK, I've finished it but got no outro :^ ((( Is it the matter of my browser (FF 2.0.0.14), Adobe Flash version or what?

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Jayunderscorezero Author Profile Page April 30, 2008 8:43 AM

My pet peeve for this game was that it was far too easy to accidentally quit the final puzzle. I kept tapping 'up' twice by mistake only to find myself right back at the very beginning of the puzzle! Grr!

Also, what's with those comments the guy makes? "Groovey"?

Still, not exactly the worst game ever made.

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Having played this, I think that giving this the title of a "game" and reviewing it as such was a bad idea. The fact that the mini-games are just standard staple with no thought gone into and that it finishes barely after it starts, shows it for what it is just an example of what titles could be like in flash, and the graphics are kinda fun and interesting. If you think of if just as a demo it is not too bad.

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thecrwth Author Profile Page May 2, 2008 8:20 PM

I know this a beta test, but two things are at ods here. Sophisticated graphics principles combined wth keyboard nvigaion just don't go together in a ponit and click.

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It's good to see something new attempted and I'd say that this implementation paves the way for imitators to come up with some real improvements.

I'm going to guess (and it's only a guess - I'm not a Flash developer) that the entire floor has been pre-rendered from every viewable angle. I'm going go go even further and guess that it has been rendered 90 times at 4 degree steps, hence the enormously long load times. Each object that sits on the floor, including the walls, will have been rendered the same number of times from the same angles. From there it's a matter of a bit of trigonometry to paint them in the right places and sorted in the right order to generate the 3D effect.

Where this effort falls down is probably the floor reflections. If they weren't present the floor could be rendered in tiles, thus using the same image set all over the floor and reducing the load time. Reducing the colour depth might also have helped - trading photo realism for speed. It's a game, fast is better.

As for the puzzles - well, they were there more to be able to pass this off as a game rather than just as the demonstration of a new display concept. The only real challenge was with the interface.

Bottom line, I really *REALLY* loved it - and I'll never play it again. It's a starting point, not a game, and it's an excellent one.

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houseworkisevil Author Profile Page May 12, 2008 6:38 PM

I'm trying hard to choose my words carefully, and not be ugly about something that's both "in development" and provided to me to play for free, but I'm also having difficulty finding something nice to say about this game.

I found the whole experience irksome from beginning to end, from the wretched voice-over, to the interface, to the long load times. I'm surprised at some of the comments above celebrating the 3-D graphics, which I'd trade in a heartbeat for just about any of the 2-D escape rooms listed on this site.

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Charlie May 16, 2008 6:44 PM

Gordon Bennett!

These games take hours and hours and hours to make.. they are FREEEEEEE!!!!!!

Shut your moaning mouths and just enjoy!

If your computer ain't up to the job try another game.

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i think they deserve a nod for attempting to open out the concept to people more likely to play combat games, which this seems to me is the genre attemped.
The appearance of the character could be more attractive, as that was slightly off putting, and i felt it wasnt really neccessary to have the character say things like 'groovey' as it kinda jarred on the whole feel of it. I think there are better things to come if they take it from a different angle, and dont try as hard to make the game so combat-esque.
nice to see something a bit different though!

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I hardly think this game warrants the negative comments it's received - obviously it's not so bad otherwise you'd stopped playing as soon as you started.

Anyway, whilst I agree the game was repetitive in puzzles, the loading times and the ideas weren't bad.

I'd really like to see a longer version of this game.

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Chiktionary Author Profile Page August 29, 2009 2:17 AM

I liked this game's uniqueness.

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I know it's been said already, but why must all beautiful and fun things end so soon!?

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