Wales Interactive is known for FMV-styled games (full motion video). In all of them, you watch scenes and get to decide what to do or say. It’s similar to “choose your own adventure”. Headspun is more of a hybrid game. While it is FMV-focused, most of the time you’re controlling characters within someone’s head. It’s similar to movies such as “Inside” and “Being John Malkovich”. When the video clips play, your point of view is that of Theo, the man who lost his memory. These scenes are done through FMV as well as mini-games implemented to help with memory loss. These mini-games are played over the video but don’t actually control what’s happening on that screen. You start off in Theo’s broken brain, trying to figure out what happened. There was an accident and he has amnesia. You control the conscience part of the mind, named Ted. You’re basically the boss of the brain and must command others to fix the mess left by the accident.
Here’s what I liked:
Acting — I’m always surprised by the acting in a Wales Interactive game. Some more than others. I wasn’t disappointed with the acting here. I liked the few characters that had roles, I think a total of three. The doctor was awesome and passionate about what she did. When she walked into the room I felt my real life become happier. She was very pleasant. I really liked Theo’s friend too. The actor did a great job of being that friend you parted paths with but when a horrible accident happens, is the one visiting you even when you’re in a coma. It felt very real and not overacted or cheesy. While they won’t be winning any acting awards, they did a superb job.
Brain Business — You’re the boss of the mind. Decisions you make affect the memory recovery of Theo. You must hire people through an HR department to fix a bunch of issues in the brain. It reminds me of being inside a ship. You have quarters for the staff, a bar, some mind-based rooms, a control room, and even a bathroom. It’s like you’re the manager of a company and there are lots of issues that need solving. As you gain points from mini-games, you can purchase various things to help out. Each day gives you an opportunity to improve Theo’s memory and it works as if you’re doing an actual shift at work. You must go to sleep to start a new day. Time management has always been something I liked, and this version of it is very casual.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Not Enough Time — The timing seems way off with the adventure. I completed the game and hadn’t even obtained 50% of cortex restoration. You can choose to keep going and not end the game, but every single time you start a day and go to play some mini-games or order people to fix something, you must always choose if you want to keep playing or end it. I’m afraid I’ll eventually choose the wrong option and have to start all over. I would have liked the game to end around 90% complete, which makes a lot more sense. Theo is stuck in a hospital bed and isn’t fit to leave, however, you’re encouraged to get it over with. I needed more time to fix everything. I was enjoying the small increases in finding out more about Theo and his past but was robbed of a real opportunity to experience it.
Almost Unplayable — I can put up with most glitches. But when a glitch forces me to quit and restart every single time I do specific actions, I stop even trying. I beat the game, but it was a complete chore to finish. I ran into glitches every five minutes or so, causing me to quit out and continue. Because I felt I needed to complete the cortex, I would load up the game every few days in hopes of an update to fix the issues. While some were fixed, the ones that caused me to quit my game still exists in the current version. I’ve waited for almost three weeks but it’s still broken. It’s critical these updates happen fast, because people are spending money on something that is clearly unfinished.
I like the ideas, acting, and creativeness found in Headspun. The dark humor is pretty great and I enjoyed being in someone’s head trying to help them regain their memory. While I enjoyed it, I hate to admit that the game is broken, more so than Theo’s mind. It has some of the worst glitches I have experienced in any game. You frequently will have a button not respond. There are a few items I needed to buy and couldn’t because suddenly I was locked out of moving the cursor down to the bottom row after buying everything on the top. Once, my actual Xbox Guide button wouldn’t work and neither would the start button. I actually had to turn off my Xbox and that’s when I gave up on trying. I have no clue how it was released in the condition that it was. I have a lot of patience and force-quit at least 50 times through the few hours it takes to complete. It’s not ready. I like it, but I can’t deny that it’s not in a good place right now. Play this only when you’re sure it’s been fixed.
Score: No Appeal
Headspunwas published by Wales Interactive and developed by Superstring on Xbox One. It was released on August 28, 2019, for $11.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.