STAFF REVIEW of Headspun (Xbox One)

Saturday, September 21, 2019.
by Kirsten Naughton

Headspun Box art Have you ever wondered what happens inside your head? I mean, I have. Especially when I watch movies like Inside Out. I wonder if there are people running my head like a well run business, much like in Superstring and Wales Interactive's newest venture, Headspun. Headspun is a 2D Platformer with a focus on FMV (Full Motion Video). I've reviewed a few FMV titles previously and I've loved them, so the expectation early on in was that Headspun would keep the ball rolling with a phenomenal FMV experience.

During your gameplay, you are playing Ted, the Director of a human named Theo's Cortex (his brain). Theo had an unfortunate car accident and has been in a coma for the last five weeks. For those who have been through such a life altering event, you can imagine how Theo has been affected emotionally, mentally and physically.

Fortunately, Theo wakes up from the coma and he's lost pretty much all of his memory. Things in the Cortex are rough, so much so that his Cortex looks like a bomb went off. Most of your team are dead, few have survived and it's your job, along with the help (or lack thereof) of your partner Teddy, to essentially fix Theo. Ted and Teddy have very different roles to play in the Cortex. Ted is Theo's decision making and logical thinking. Teddy is essentially Theo's emotional impulses. Teddy is rarely a help to Ted, making it a little difficult to make choices sometimes. I think of Ted being the Angel and Teddy to be devil. Ted wants to do what's best for Theo at all times and Teddy wants to make decisions based on whatever he's feeling at that moment. I don't think I have to tell you how that could impact Theo in the long run, both good and bad.

There are two main goals of Headspun, get the Cortex running 100% again and help Theo regain his memories that he's lost since the car accident. Now, this is where things get a little overwhelming. For most of Headspun, Ted will be working on what are called 'Shifts'. They start when Ted wakes up to when Theo goes to bed. It's your responsibility to make the most of your shift. You must learn rather quickly how to run the Cortex like a business. You need to hire staff, complete daily activities, complete quests and manage finances.

Now, this may not sound like a lot of work, because at first I thought it was a piece of cake. Your currency that is like our money out here in the real world, called 'Neurocredits'. You will use Neurocredits to help get the Cortex up and running, hire staff and to obtain Research & Development projects for your staff to complete. Neurocredits are obtained by completing daily activities that benefit Theo's recovery mentally and physically, which will count towards the Cortex's overall recovery. These activities will also help Theo's patience levels that will let you “play” the activities longer and longer as you progress.

Most of your time with Headspun will be in the Control Room. That's where you will oversee your finances, delegate tasks to your staff and do all Theo's activities that I have mentioned briefly before. I'm going to be super honest here. I don't know why the finance page is an option. I understand its to potentially increase your Neurocredit balance, the patience levels and such, and it's a good idea, though it could have been left out. Especially since I really saw no real change. Delegating tasks to staff are pretty bare bones. You choose to summon them to the control room, they appear a few seconds later and you can choose to talk, give them a task or dismiss them. Most of the time, you'll be giving them a task which will be triggered by opening your quests and clicking around the environment as you walk down the hallways.

If I had to choose, the FMV experience was a pretty unique one. In the Control Room, you have a screen that shows you all your data and your live feed of Theo unless he's asleep; then you can't see anything. Theo's live feed is either him staring at a dresser, moving his head a little or interacting with his doctor, his estranged friend Jack or the police. I felt that this was the coolest part of Headspun. Video feeds get a little repetitive though, as the only time it changes are when new parts of the story open. The actors were pretty good and I didn't have any real problem with the main story.

Headspun seems to have a few issues that are glaring like those bright LED headlights cars have nowadays. You know, the ones where you as a driver can barely focus while driving while the guy behind you has his LED's shining in each of your mirrors. Headspun's UI has more than one weird glitch that makes it almost impossible to play. While in the Control Room, the screen that shows you all the data takes FOREVER to load that you're in there. Then, basic actions like scrolling to the next tab was sometimes a struggle. Your activities will be constantly interrupted because the actions you are trying to make on your controller won't make it to the game in time for the activity to complete.

You'll be trying to select something on the staff page and you'll have to go back and forth on tabs to reset this. It can be extremely frustrating. So much so that I have to constantly close the entire game and reboot it. This rarely gives me a solution. Not to mention, travelling between the two floors I was allowed access to were confusing to navigate. Even with the “help” of your tablet, I found walking around the floors somewhat easier as fast travel wasn't always really operating properly.

Have you ever watched a movie, TV show or a cut-scene from a video game to find out you're on a cliffhanger? I can't stand them. I know they are a useful device and it creates suspense, but it still breaks my heart a little when I have to wait for the next episode or movie. During about hour six of gameplay, you'll find that there's a bit of glitch. As a gamer with some experience under her belt, I used every trick I know. Nothing worked. I was in the middle of finding Teddy a present because he felt I owed it to him. Long story short, I found myself without a way to finish that quest, and unfortunately, I couldn't progress any further overall. We reached out to the developer and was told that a patch would be forthcoming in the future. I waited a few days after the expected patch was to be live, multiple times, but the same problems persisted.

Because of this game breaking bug, it really upsets me that I can't have the full Headspun experience and complete the game. The story was getting really good too! I had just hit what I thought was the climax and I got really excited. But then, shortly after, I was met with a brick wall of disappointment. I was ready to score Headspun much higher than what it received, but unfortunately without the ability to progress and continue Theo's story, my hands are tied. Theo's recovery might be a little longer than anticipated.

Overall: 5.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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