Review: Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons
We come across many games that are mediocre and decent which pander to the common denominator. Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons is not one of those games. It is a breath of fresh air filled with purpose, emotional impact and above all else heart.
- Addictive?Yes, the game drives you to play through its epic story.
- Worth The Time?Yes, Brothers is an emotionally fulfilling and gripping game to the very end.
- Things LovedThe art direction is outstanding and features a mix of fantasy tidbits from a range of games. The game's characters capture your eye from the very moment you begin your journey. The musical score is effortless and feels like a childhood lullaby that parents sing to their children. The same can be said of the gameplay mechanics which are unique especially with each brother controllable via each of the thumbsticks, and the story transitions wonderfully throughout the whole experience. It's a game which holds your attention and you never lose interest.
- Things HatedThere were some awkward moments getting used to the orientation of having to control each brother independently through each thumbstick of the controller, but this at the same time makes the experience increasingly rewarding once you finish Brothers. The game ended far too quickly, but oozes oodles of quality above anything else.
- RecommendationIf you are a lover of art games, games with meaning, games with purpose then this is one for you.
- Quick ConclusionThis is by far the best game on XBLA at the moment, and will soon be making its way to PSN and Steam. Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons tells a compelling story with heart and an emotional tonality that rivals games such as Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Journey and Telltale's Walking Dead. It attains this with simple mechanics and an assortment of puzzles that lead two brothers down a path where both their strengths and weaknesses are tested. This makes for one of the best experiences this year. In other words, you should be playing this game.
- Name: Review: Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: XBLA, PSN, Steam
- Developer: Starbreeze Studios
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Price: 1200 MP (R150)
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons is a very simple to understand game that uses a basic story to outline the characters of two brothers, who are journeying across a vast expanse in search of a cure for their father’s illness. In this quest, they make their way through a multitude of environments, from snow-capped mountains, to deep dark forests and an underground network of mines. However, progression in the game is reliant on your ability to make the two brothers co-operate in unison to overcome challenges and puzzles, as both brothers are controlled independently by each thumbstick on your controller.
What is brilliant about the game is that emphasises the differences between the two brothers, which is not only dictated by the age difference between the two, with one clearly older than the other. Each brother is uniquely suited to different tasks and it’s particularly interesting when it comes to interacting with non-playable-characters (NPC) in order to find out what you’re supposed to do next. The younger brother may be able to illicit a response from a certain NPC, but fail when it comes to getting information from another NPC. This is where you could use the older brother to see if you’ll receive a different response from an NPC. Both brothers interact with the environment around them differently.
In some sections of the game, you can play musical instruments where the younger brother would be able to play a harp, the older brother fails to do so. But, in another instance, the older brother succeeds in blowing a horn whereas his younger counterpart can’t. Their strengths and weaknesses are also stressed in the platforming and action-oriented sections such as where you have to make your way through guard rails, and only the younger brother can do so. On the flip-side, when swimming is involved the younger brother is pretty incompetent and requires the older brother to help him swim across a body of water. Puzzles rely on the co-operation of the two brothers, for example there are parts of the game where you will have to move pillars to stop the cogs in a machine to make your way through a waterway, or time the jumps of both brothers across a dangerous path.
The problem is that some puzzles require a precise pattern of actions, that are needed to complete the aforementioned obstacle. This is more of an occurrence in the later stages of the game, where the difficulty and challenge does ramp up quite a bit. But the puzzles are not that difficult to dissuade you from completing them, yet honing your skills for controlling each brother with both thumbsticks is essential in many parts of the game. At first, the unique arrangement of controlling each brother independently through each thumbstick may be daunting, but as you become accustomed to the control layout, and how the gameplay mechanics work, it certainly is far more intuitive than initially speculated. Each brother can also perform an action with one easily placed push of a trigger, and for certain actions where you’ll need to hang on the end of a structure or maintain your grip, you’ll be holding down both triggers for quite awhile. This in itself can be somewhat of an issue when you’re trying to figure out how to time your movements exactly as to not fall to your death, especially when your index fingers begin to suffer from fatigue.
Again it cannot be stressed how important it is to learn to time your actions with both brothers, this is very pertinent to the boss battles you’ll face at the end of a chapter. Bosses all display different behaviour patterns that you need to take account of and exploit with the strengths of both brothers. As soon as you come to terms with the strengths and weaknesses of both brothers and where their talents lie, then you should have no problems in dealing with the bosses you encounter along your journey.
As stated above, Brothers has a simple story. But it works very well as a character piece which explores notions of brotherhood, family and loss. The game does a wonderful job of illustrating the nature of both brothers, and this is all done without any proper dialogue to convey the “voices” of both brothers. The brothers speak an unusual language that although not understood is implicit with conviction and strong emotions that carry across well, and can be universally understood by any player. You face the trials and tribulations of these two brothers as they make their way through devastatingly beautiful landscapes and take on incredible odds. The characters and setting truly capture your heart with an abundance of charm and feeling.
The art direction in this game is beautiful and features an array of fantasy standards, but does so with a colourful palette and well defined characters designs. The environments are lush, harsh and foreboding and the visual style which is reminiscent of a blend between Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Fable catches your eye. The visual aesthetics lends itself to the grandiose nature of the journey that the brothers endure. That feeling of an epic journey comes across effectively and to the point. The musical score matches the visual style and helps ground the journey of the two brothers in the wonderment of the world around them and the importance of what they have set out to accomplish. This all comes together to create a highly original and emotionally involving game.