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Not Not – A Brain Buster Review

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It took me 45 years to discover the power and benefits of coffee. And honestly, I’m just glad I saw the light before playing Not Not – A Brain Buster.

Without it, I would foresee nothing but utter failure. With it? Well, this is still a pad-chucking, frustrating experience, yet it does at least feel ‘doable’. But I’ve no qualms in admitting that I walk away from my time with Not Not – A Brain  Buster appreciative of that lightbulb moment.

However, even with that caffeine on board, I’m still not quite sure if I adore Not Not – A Brian Buster for being able to provide a simplistic puzzle experience, or hate it for its mind-melting complexities.

Not Not A Brain Buster review 1
Just do what you’re told in Not Not – A Brain Buster

In Not Not – A Brain Buster you are tasked with moving a little avatar across the face of a cube. Moving up, down, left or right, your sole goal is to read the brief instruction overlayed, pulling it off within a tight time limit. That means that should the cube demand you to move left, you move left. Should it tell you to go up, you go up. With a couple of seconds at most to read the instruction, understand the action, and then to pull it off via thumbstick or d-pad, early moments of Not Not are easy. 

But then things fast take a turn. That ‘Not’ and ‘Not Not’ wording coming into play, tripling up at times to ‘Not Not Not’ with the hope of confusing even more. Which way do you move when told ‘Not Up’? Well, that’s easy as there are three other directions to pick from. But ‘Not Not Up’ or ‘Not Left Not Right’? Yeah, you’ve got to start thinking. But that strict time limit is still in play. 

Throw in the stages found in ‘The Void’ in which doing ‘Nothing’ is rewarded, or as the red, green, blue, yellow doorways of ‘The Colorist’ just amplify the anxieties. and then you’ve got to start thinking logically, or have your mind twisted even more as Not Not – A Brain Buster tells you to move to a green door, but provides that text in blue. Frankly, it’s a bugger and I’m sure that the development team at Alternative Shift find some satisfaction in watching gamers squirm. 

A completion of all steps, starting from 30 in the early stages and ramping up to the likes of 40 and 50, will earn you a silver cube, signifying that you’ve proven your worth. Do that without a single fail or loss of any of your three lives, and you’ll be rewarded with a gold cube. A combination of completion and gold required for further level unlocks. 

Not Not A Brain Buster review 2
But yeah, get thinking!

But then you get to stages titled The Impossible and The Liar, with Not Not chucking in more than one movement and the likes. Consider that you may then have to move your little avatar up and down, or to green and red, and the difficulty just ramps again. In fact, even though we’ve chucked some decent hours at Not Not – A Brain Buster, it’s not long before some old Trials Fusion ‘give up whilst the going is good’ moments come to mind. Of course, that’s a personal thing and I can hear a whole swathe of hardcover gamers tutting at the mere thought of walking away before absolute full completion is at hand. Others? They’ll have jumped ship long before I. 

So it’s strange that even though Not Not comes to Xbox with less than 30 ‘stages’ in all, with the vast majority requiring completion of ‘gold’ levelling for them to unlock, that you could be playing this for hours, days, weeks. Make of that what you will but I can also foresee players spending mere minutes with this game, walking away as an Xbox controller shaped hole appears in a wall.

There’s also a Challenge Mode that takes you through endless runs of Normal, Hard and Extreme levels, for no reason other than to hurt your head just a little bit more. And to really bring the fun is the Versus Mode. Playable for up to four local players, you can pretty much set Not Not up to your own liking, all in the name of science and bragging rights. How long you’ll have friends after putting them through this is very much up for debate. 

Not Not looks decent enough as well. Minimal with focus just on the cube, there’s nothing in terms of eye candy or aural delights to take you away from the job at hand – this is a game that wants you to focus, and it does a cracking job in allowing it. And if you need a bit of help, there’s a color blind mode. For us, a ‘red’ label over a ‘red’ door just confuses, especially with the time limit.

Not Not A Brain Buster review 3
Multiplayer – for bragging rights

There are further frustrations with Not Not – A Brain Buster aside from those tough difficulties. I suspect it may be something to do with the genius of Quick Resume on Series X, but I’ve found this a game to lose all save progress at times, failing to track records at others. When you consider just how tricky it is to fully complete some stages in Not Not, that’s a big annoyance. 

That’s not to say this shouldn’t be recommended. We’ve sat here, continually going back to Not Not – A Brain Buster at various times of the day, less so at night as the mind looks to wind down, more so in the earlier hours of the day as enthusiastic vibes come to the fore. And we can see ourselves continuing to do that for the next few weeks, all as we try to understand the complexities and simplistic natures of a clever little puzzler.

Just be aware, if you’re considering spending time with Not Not – A Brain Buster, stock up on the coffee beans now. You’re gonna need ‘em.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • A clever, yet simple, puzzler
  • Feeds new ideas nicely
Cons:
  • Can be an utter pig to get your head around
  • Save issues
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Naptime Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PC, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 17 May 2024 | £4.19
Neil Watton
Neil Wattonhttps://www.thexboxhub.com/
An Xbox gamer since 2002, I bought the big black box just to play Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. I have since loved every second of the 360's life and am now just as obsessed with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S - mostly with the brilliant indie scene that has come to the fore. Gamertag is neil363, feel free to add me to your list.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>A clever, yet simple, puzzler</li> <li>Feeds new ideas nicely</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Can be an utter pig to get your head around</li> <li>Save issues</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Naptime Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PC, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 17 May 2024 | £4.19</li> </ul>Not Not - A Brain Buster Review
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