Brain Hotel review
Brain Hotel is the second Flash-based adventure from Pinhead Games and was created in association with Ron Watt, author of "Tales of the Odd," the comic series upon which this game is loosely based.
Like Pinhead Games' previous venture, A Case of the Crabs, this game can be played online in any Flash-enabled web-browser, or offline on the Mac and PC. Broadband users will be able to play the game online with under 10 minutes' wait, while those without speedy connections can download the 30MB offline version within a couple of hours.
Brain Hotel is a stylish comedy adventure set in a dystopian future in which clones and robots are commonplace. The amusing backstory is well introduced, using still-frame images. After the brief introduction we gain control of our player character, Ed Arnold. Ed is a sarcastic, self-employed delivery man with a southern drawl and a mission: to deliver a package to an occupant of the Brain Hotel. This, as you might expect, is just the beginning, and the story soon begins to unfold.
The game is very comedic in nature, with heavily joke-laden dialogues and hotspot interactions. There are also a host of amusing and strange characters to keep you entertained. The game is also laden with adventure game in-jokes, with references to Day of the Tentacle (time-travelling toilets), and Maniac Mansion (Chuck the Plant) to name a few. If that weren't enough, there is also a Star Wars reference, amongst others.
The GUI is a tried-and-true LucasArts-style verb-choosing affair. The game is fully voiced, which adds extra realism and humour to the dialogues. The voice acting is very well done, with every character sounding distinct and unique. There are sound effects where appropriate, and there is suitable looping music in the bar and elevator areas. The only problem with the sound is the re-use of hotspot interaction responses, and the lack of any way to skip text. Hearing the same dialogue piece over and over can get a bit tiresome, especially when you hear Ed say "ooh, pretty" for the hundredth time. However, these minor irritations are forgivable when you consider the engine's newness and the need to keep file sizes down by not including too many unique voice clips.
Puzzles in the game are usually logical and never pose too much difficulty. The main quest in the game is of the traditional "here's a list of stuff I need, go get it" variety, but the objects you need to collect are far from traditional. The solutions to the puzzles are rarely too complex, and a bit of the slightly twisted logic most adventure gamers are used to will solve most problems in short order. This doesn't detract from the game in any way though, since this game is all about making the player laugh, rather than keeping them tied up for hours with puzzles.
The story is simple, but suitably surreal given the game's setting. I won't give away too much of the plot, but rest assured there's an evil megalomaniac villain involved that would give any superhero a run for his money.
The graphics are drawn in a clear, crisp comic book style that suits the game's atmosphere and plot perfectly. The game's introduction is shown in a traditional frame-by-frame comicbook style that works very well to outline Ed's history and what exactly he's doing at the hotel.
I would definitely recommend Brain Hotel as a way of spending an hour's free time. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this wonderful and bizarre world in the future, and with the two in-progress games noted on the developers' site, my wishes might just come true sometime soon.
Click here to play Brain Hotel.