Brain Dead 13 is a skillfully animated cartoon that is almost entirely unplayable and fails completely as an interactive experience.
It's immediately obvious that Readysoft, the game's designers, were involved in the translation of the PC versions of the 1980's coin-op favorites, Dragon's Lair and Space Ace. In these games, and in Brain Dead 13, an animated sequence is played and you have a fraction of a second to press one of the arrow keys or the spacebar. If you guess correctly which key to press, the video sequence continues to play until you're given the next unforgiving chance to "interact." If you don't, it's certain death and you start all over again. In the end, this means that the game must be played systematically as a process of elimination; in any given situation, you must press each key until you find the correct one. We're not talking real-time interaction here. Just point Mr. One-finger at an arrow key, then sit back and watch the results.
The game has other flaws besides its grossly outdated gameplay. For instance, a number of rooms in the castle (see company line for plot overview) are mirror images of places you've been before. You can avoid the Red Witch, say, by pressing up, right, space bar, right, and so on. But to avoid the Green Witch, you'll press up, left, space bar, left, and so on. Even worse, it's never quite clear what the results of your actions will be. In one room you can escape through a door in the upper-left corner by pressing up, but another room with an exit in the same place will require you to press left to get out. This inconsistency and thoughtlessness in design highlights the problems inherent in imposing an interactive interface on a traditionally linear media.
Brain Dead 13 does have one positive aspect: the animated cartoon that provides the framework for your limited interaction. Full of colorful characters (both literally and figuratively), the clips feature incredibly smooth animation all neatly packed onto one CD-ROM. Although this level of production quality is no minor technical feat, it's not enough to save this game from being inducted into my own personal computer game Hall of Shame. Unless you're a fan of the Dragon's Lair series of games, I strongly suggest that you avoid this exercise in absolute frustration.