Professor Crackbrain and the Awakening of the Weredog is a game that’s been heavily influenced by Maniac Mansion, and is pretty proud of that fact.
It’s not going to impress you with its graphics – they’re that retro pixel art style designed to evoke memories of classic Nintendo and early PC titles. Odds are, this isn’t going to bug you, and it’s not like they’re hiding the fact. If you’re on their store page, it’s plain to see. The graphics are fine, but I will point out that the game is windowed, and that window is small. Muddy graphics don’t do it any favors.
There’s actually voiced dialogue, which is a genuine surprise. The voice work is…okay. You can enable it in the options, where it’s tagged with “mostly AI”. Given that these are vocaloids, it’s a surprising inclusion. However, the fact they’re vocaloids means that the delivery is flat and uninspired. There’s little reason to play with sound, to be very honest.
On every screen, there’s a minimum of several things to interact with, including the standard “examine” option which usually leads to your character making a joke of some form, or referencing something from the 80’s or 90’s. Not to sound cruel to the game, but this is almost definitely where you’re going to decide whether or not the game is for you. The dev is banking on you finding this funny or charming. The problem is that both of these things are very subjective. For me, it just became a never-ending stream of references which added little to the game, beyond reminding me that it wasn’t these things. The humor never really hit for me either. Perhaps it was the way the lines were written. Perhaps the jokes would have been funnier if a human had said them, rather than a vocaloid. Either way, almost every attempt at humor fell very flat for me. (Aside from the monkeywrench joke, that is.)
One bright side is the QoL option to hit the spacebar and see every hotspot on the screen. Given that we’re playing in a small window with low-res graphics, that’s actually a really nice idea. Of course, there’s more than a few times when you realize words are overlapping due to how much stuff is there, or that you literally have a two pixel hotspot to actually click on. It feels like the dev had a ton of ideas and didn’t want to pull any item or joke out of the game, and unfortunately left it overcrowded as a result.
The game is very straightforward – it’s a puzzle heavy adventure game, just like Maniac Mansion or the Monkey Island series. So if you’re not a fan of those games, this one’s not going to change your mind. If you are, though, you’ll potentially get some enjoyment from this. A lot of it banks on nostalgia, and this is really a genre you like, this is a much easier recommendation to make.
I don’t want it to seem like I’m punching down here; I’m not. This is obviously a one or two person passion project, and it’s far better than anything I’m likely to do in my lifetime, in terms of game creation. Just be aware that this is VERY much a no-budget indie game. It’s meant to be a classic adventure title in terms of gameplay, complete with every trope in the genre, for better or worse. By all means, support this title if you have a few extra bucks. It’s earnestly made, and I can tell that a lot of love went into it. It gets an A for effort, but a C for execution. I’d love to see what this dev could do with an actual budget or some higher-end tools.
CLICK HERE TO BUY PROFESSOR CRACKBRAIN AND THE AWAKENING OF THE WEREDOG ON STEAM.
The Chuck is a lifelong gamer who was born in Ohio, but now lives in much closer proximity to Mickey Mouse.
The Chuck has found his life to be a series of improbable and almost unbelievable events, starting when he was twenty and caught the bubonic plague from a prairie dog. He was as surprised as anyone when he found out that's something that can happen.
When he isn't gaming, The Chuck can be found enjoying baseball, (American) football, pro wrestling, and horror movies. He is most commonly seen in the company of one or more cats.
Reclusive by nature, The Chuck is (like most semi-feral creatures) reward-driven. Approach with caution and some form of treat.