This follow up to Dual Brain Vol. 1: Calculation made me think of Radiohead, in the way that both make me think everything is pointless.
Vol. 2: Reflex is a brain training game that makes absolutely no effort to justify its existence. Dr Kawashima would sell you some snake oil pseudoscience about making sure you’re using your brain every day. Dual Brain doesn’t do that. Instead, you’re presented with six quite tedious mini-games. I assume they’re supposed to help me train my reflexes, but a bit of narrative and a bit of justification helps. I need to know what the point of playing these games is. It’s certainly not to have fun.
While the games in Dual Brain Vol. 1 (which we reviewed last month) had at least some numerical value, Vol. 2 is a real hodgepodge of seemingly random ideas.
It makes sense to talk about the six games individually because, well, that’s all there is here. There’s one where you are given two numbers and must correctly choose the largest one, with the hard mode adding negative numbers. It’s as deep as it sounds.
In another, three circles appear on screen with different numbers inside. You must quickly sum the numbers in each colour and input the values. A similar game asks you to press the button that corresponds to the colour at the top of the screen. Both are diverting for all of five minutes.
Another example asks you to decide which of four calculations produces the biggest values; the fifth asks you to find a letter or number in a grid. It is supremely tedious.
I’ve saved the sixth game until last – it lights up a colour on the gamepad, and you must press the button that lights up. Now seems a good time to mention that the developer is asking £11.99 for this.
The same issue from Vol. 1 surfaces once more here. To wit: the fact that you must press L or R every couple of seconds to stop a fuse at the bottom of the screen igniting a bomb. If you’re wondering why we haven’t seen anything like this before, it’s because it’s a rubbish idea.
What’s interesting is that the developers don’t seem to have realised this gimmick is leaning towards a better, rhythm focused game. Doing all this to a beat and having to complete Brain Training tasks to a tune. There’s something in that. There’s nothing in this.
There are high scores to beat, and you can level up, too. But it is supremely pointless. There’s no incentive given to beat previous scores. Dual Brain could do with a playlist mode, where you do games for a set amount of time, to complete a daily amount of practice. In fact, this is a huge oversight, removing any reason to invest any time whatsoever.
Dual Brain Vol. 2: Reflex is a bleak reminder of how decent presentation and a narrative can carry an entire experience, but when you don’t have them, you’re left with something as pointless as it is empty.