BrainDead 13 in Review – Computer expert vs Evil genius… Fight!

Nostalgia gaming is one of the trending areas of the App Store and it’s getting more and more attention from various developers. With the current power of mobile devices –almost tenfold that of PC’s 10 years ago —  it’s quite an attractive idea to simply port original games to the platform at a fraction of the cost of developing titles from the ground up. And interactive movies certainly fit the bill perfectly. With only the slightest adaptations of controls required, you can be rewarded with an instant hit like  Dragon’s Lair (TMA Review) or the PC original – BrainDead 13.

BrainDead 13 follows the classic path of the arcade laserdisc interactive movie games to the letter, despite having been originally designed for the PC. You control Lance, a computer expert, summoned to a remote castle to fix an issue with a mainframe. Having done so successfully, however, Lance learns that the castle belongs to Dr. Neuro Neurosis – an evil disembodied brain. As any true mad scientist, Dr. Neurosis is just about to put into action his diabolical plan to take over the world. Hunted by the Doctor’s servant, Fritz Lance has no choice but to do his best and save the day.

Playing BrainDead 13 is roughly the same as all other interactive movie games. A short situation is played out and you have to push the correct actions out of the directional icons and action in the time allotted. What sets the game apart is the developers trying to add at least some non-linearity with various crossroads where you may choose which path to take. Unfortunately, the downside to this is that it made me run around in circles across the whole castle, playing through the same rooms over and over again in an effort to get to the final boss sequence.

BrainDead 13 offers either a guided or an unguided way of going through the castle, with the former supplying hints on what button should be tapped. I would advise against trying to go the unguided route, since it’s almost always impossible to guess which way and when to go. Of course it’s impossible to truly die in the game and despite the many bloody ways your demise is portrayed, Lance always returns from the dead to continue the adventure. But still you’ll have enough trouble even following the hints with the miniscule timeframe for the right action to be pressed to go the try-and-try-again way.

Technically BrainDead 13 is almost perfect, which is not surprising considering the gameplay mechanics. Visually the game is excellently drawn, though it doesn’t have Retina quality graphics support (also not surprising since the game was originally released in 1995). The animations are smooth and overall the quality is comparable to the classic Don Bluth interactive movie games. You can choose 1 of 3 interface layouts with various sizes of the virtual D-Pad to suit your own preference. I went with the middle option and had no trouble whatsoever.

When watching cartoons as a kid I’ve always dreamed I could control how the action plays out. BrainDead 13 is certainly the answer to those dreams and stands in line with the arcade classics like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, both in terms of the animation quality and game design. The only issue you’re likely to encounter is getting lost in the vast castle. Also I’m not sure I would advise it for the little ones; the many many death scenes you’re bound to run into are quite violent and gory, even though they’re done in an overly cartoony style.

With this I declare BrainDead 13 officially touched!

App Summary
Title: BrainDead 13 Developer: Digital Leisure Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 574.87MB
  • Multi-path gameplay
  • Superb visuals and narrative
  • Easy to get lost in the castle


Adventure fans, feel free to browse some of our previous reviews here at TMA:

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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