reviewed Brain Lord
The red balls, beware of them.
Brain Lord’s an action rpg with a heavy emphasis on puzzles (hence, the title). Clamoring for something like that but you’ve already played every other popular snes action rpg? Brain Lord’s worth a shot.
Story, Characters, and the Vibes:
Brain Lord starts off on a bit of a serious note. Your dad’s journey to find a dragon seems to be in vain as he’s implied to have died, so now it’s up to you to complete the task and continue the dragon warrior bloodline.
But, for the most part? This game actually seems to have a rather laid-back, inviting tone to it for the most part. Your primary objective is to still find a dragon, but you and your tight-knit group of friends still wanna take part in dungeon-related jobs and get that sweet, sweet, reward money. There’s really not much to say about the story, you explore each dungeon for specific reasons, with things getting more serious by the end and requiring you to beat some demon lord. There’s a very explorative atmosphere to it, which made me feel encouraged to inspect every nook and cranny of dungeons.
What really shines is the cast of characters. Your group of adventurer friends are a good bunch, providing nice exposition and hints surrounding each dungeon and town, and NPCs in general are pretty friendly. Sounds rather simple, but what I especially enjoy is how not just you but the world around you is also progressing forward. Your friends take initiative to explore the dungeons themselves, and you’ll often be speaking to them as you progress through various enemies and puzzles.
As such, I found myself quite liking the support cast, especially your group of adventurer friends who felt alive and charming on their own. It helps that the dialogue itself is quite decent and funny at times.
Battles, Puzzles, Dungeons:
While Brain Lord isn’t particularly ambitious or revolutionary in what it sets out to do, it feels disciplined in its mechanics. The gameplay is fairly solid and the game takes no time in making you familiar with how it works.
Fighting is fairly standard, with some nuance provided through a variety of weapon types, each getting the job done and providing for a playstyle that suits you best. Like something strong with some range? Morning Stars sound like the best for you. Want something long-range and fast? Boomerangs! Fairy Jades, little companions you can find or buy that help you out, also add more fun into the mix. There’s about 9 types of fairies, each with their own abilities, such as healing or shooting projectiles, so trying them out and seeing what suits you best (or switching them depending on the situation) is quite fun. Finally, magic is another important gameplay element. Most focus on attacking, though some provide an additional effect or have a different purpose to begin with. It’s a nice addition to make fighting less frustrating.
Puzzles are the meat of this game, so much so I’d say that fighting takes a backseat in this game. While they start off simple, like say moving a rock to a button, they get more complex the more you progress and will certainly give your brain a jog. Of course there’s some frustrations, annoying gimmicks, and a few instances of backtracking, but generally, the puzzles are pretty solid (as they should be for this game anyways, gotta make the title of Brain Lord have meaning!). I should also mention that platforming is also an important aspect to this game, and mainly why you’re given a jump button to begin with. It can be a bit off-putting at first due to the bird’s eye perspective, but it shouldn’t take too long to get used to and master platforming.
While it may be disappointing to know at first that the game has only 5 dungeons, each one is gigantic. With a good amount of floors, puzzles, locked doors and keys, most of your game time is spent in dungeons. As much as I like this structure, it does become apparent that dungeons start to feel like a slog at certain points (shout outs to the ice castle, with its massive amount of loops and backtracking). Gets more frustrating if you don’t like certain gimmicks or puzzles (Dark Zones gave me a headache). I appreciate that each dungeon is distinct with its own sort of atmosphere, supported further by what your objectives are in them and what your friends are doing. For example, the Ruins feel very explorative, with your objective mainly being finding various treasures and such, meanwhile the Ice Castle is filled to the brim with traps as you try and rescue hostages.
Brain Lord isn’t visually outstanding (though you may notice some similarities with how The 7th Saga looks. Makes sense, both are by the same creators.), but the main appeal I found was the music and sound design. It’s just really good in the ears, man. I love the music especially, lots of good catchy tunes that stick in my head for days.
While there’s some world building here and there, you’re mainly occupied with two towns, a few roads, and the dungeons. It’s a bit of a shame, as I would have liked to know what this Ouk tribe was or find out more about the Abell civilization. But regardless, I can’t say I dislike what we did get to see of the world at least.
Brain Lord has some good, has some bad, but its strengths definitely outweigh its weaknesses. It’s a good time, so give it a shot if you’re looking for some snes games to try.
Reviewed on Jul 08, 2022