Big Brain Wolf takes the adventure game, replaces inventory puzzles with logic puzzles, and places the whole thing in a fairy-tale world. The titular is studying to become a genie which makes it easy to accept the constant presence of his instructor who serves as a hint system, but before he can hope to become a wish-granted his mother is arrested for the murder of Red Riding Hood’s grandmother so proving her innocence takes priority.
Being an adventure game the way you go about attaining your goals is by clicking around on the screen to move and solve puzzles. Where you would combine your sword with fizzy root beer in Tales of Monkey Island you will place queens on a chessboard and arrange matchsticks in shapes in Big Brain Wolf. If you enjoyed Professor Layton then you’ll be right at home here.
There is no highlighting of interactable objects here which serves to make things frustrating as the cartoony graphics make it easy for objects to blend in with the background. Giving the player visual cues is never a bad thing – especially when those cues would only serve to initiate a puzzle instead of solve it for the player. Once you’ve found the puzzles, the controls work well. Mouse inputs all work intuitively, and with 60 puzzles available to you there’s plenty of content to work through. Not all puzzles are required though so it is possible to miss some by driving the plot forward. Those puzzles that you do solve are always available to be played again in the game’s central area by clicking on the genie’s lamp as well.
If a puzzle is too difficult for you there is a hint system available. You are allowed as many hints as you want, but in order to earn hints you’ll need to complete memory challenges. You’ll memorize sequences of colors, times shown on a series of clocks, and just plain committing lists of words to memory. It’s a novel idea, but if a puzzle is particularly challenging the repetition of these exercises results in frustration rather than appreciation as all you really want is to get back to the puzzle. Also similar to Professor Layton, there are three hints available per puzzle, and the first two are usually worthless so if you want any real help you’ll usually be spending three hints to get it. Puzzles do repeat a bit in theme, but the solution is either more involved or the rules are slightly different (i.e., your second Tower of Hanoi has more blocks that need to be transferred from one pole to another).
Big Brain Wolf is great for folks that enjoyed Professor Layton and want the same type of experience on the PC. The story isn’t anything to write home about, but the fairytale aesthetic and the breadth of puzzles available make it a great bet for logic puzzle fans.
Pros: good amount of puzzles, in-game hints
Cons: No highlighting, permanently missable puzzles
Plays Like: Professor Layton and the Curious Village