Headspun Review

Dev: Superstring
Pub: Wales Interactive
Released: 28/08/19
PEGI/ESRB: 12/T
Players: 1
Size: 4.38 GB
Price: £9.99/$11.99/€11.99
Xbox One X Enhanced: No

First things first, Headspun is an incredible concept. The developers from Superstring have managed to blend FMV narrative with management simulator game play and polished the two off with a beautifully illustrated environment that oozes creativity. Tucked away inside of Theo’s brain is the Cortex cooperation. Cortex is run by Theo’s two dominate traits, personalized as Ted and Teddy. Ted is ambitious to a fault, controlling of the Cortex’s primary operations, and strives to push Theo toward professional improvement. Teddy is equally ambitious, though Ted views Teddy’s focus on creativity as lazy and immature, and he’s constantly at odds with Ted in an effort to let Theo’s creative side stand on equal footing with his professional side. Its an interior struggle that anybody with creative tendencies can relate to.

Most of Theo’s inner dialogue between Ted and Teddy take place in the Control Room, where the two can awaken Theo and help him recover from a car wreck that left him comatose for more than a month. While Theo is awake, players get a first person look through his eyes at the outside world with the help of a FMV screen. Its through these FMV segments that players learn more details about what happened to Theo that fateful night through interactions with his doctor, visitors, and even the police. The choices you make for Theo’s interactions during these FMV sequences can ultimately change the outcome of the game.

Theo’s rehabilitation depends on how you, as Ted, manage the inner workings of Cortex. From the Control Room you can access mini games to help improve Theo’s concentration. Doing so earns you neuro points that can be spent on hiring new employees (who are clearly meant to represent brain cells), repairing damaged rooms in the Cortex, and lowering Theo’s stress levels. Unfortunately, there is a very limited number of activities that are available to the player to earn neuro points.

Mini game options are initially limited to helping Theo concentrate on a book, which produces a sliding bar mini game with a ticker moving back and forth while players attempt to press “A” in the short amount of time when the bar passes over a brain icon in the middle. Later, a crossword and weight lifting mini game opens up but both are quite limited in mechanics. The crossword puzzle just presents two words that are both missing the same vowel, and the player chooses the vowel that fits, whereas lifting weights sees players spamming Y and A to fill respective bars. Eventually, the doctor gives Theo a “Sudoku” book, only for players to just be presented with simple addition and three choices for the sum instead of actual Sudoku.

If you’re smart with your neuro point finances, you can quickly find yourself swimming in points without having to fuss too much with the concentration mini games, which turns out to be quite the blessing due to frequent screen glitches in the control room. At times, trying to switch tabs from the FMV screen to the mini games or finance tab results in a microfreeze of the entire game that has elements of both screens overlaying each other once the freeze comes to an end. If you’re really unlucky, this mishap can result in a full game crash to the Xbox dashboard.

This is not Headspun’s only issue. The game’s menus will often become completely unresponsive, and you’ll have to close the game and relaunch it with your fingers crossed hoping that they work the next time you load it up. One major plot point of the game takes place in Theo’s “Dream Theater”, where a FMV sequence plays out, but during the review play through this sequence actually stopped part of the way through. Nothing could make it progress, and other characters were not in their appropriate locations because the FMV wasn’t finishing. Quitting to the menu didn’t help. Quitting to the dashboard didn’t help. Thankfully, uninstalling and reinstalling completely for some reason did push the game through to the next sequence of events. Other glitches included Ted’s tablet not updating to show completed tasks, which leads to glitched achievements due to the lack of progress tracking, and character sprites not loading in properly for dialogue.

A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher

5.6
Gameplay 3
Graphics 10
Audio 10
Value for Money 4
Replay Value 1
Headspun

Headspun is a visually impressive and creative hybrid of the FMV and management simulator genres coupled with a gutwrenching narrative that is expertly told. Yet for all of the good the game has to offer its mottled so badly by poor performance and game breaking glitches that you need the patience of a saint just to see it through to those emotionally charged plot twists. With any luck, Wales Interactive and Superstring will put in the effort to give the game the polish it deserves to get it past this horrible launch.

  • Creative blending of management sim and FMV
  • Fantastic, emotionally charged narrative
  • More glitches than you can shake a controller at

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Gamer mom and hobby farmer. Raising kids, chickens, and gamerscore!

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