GAME NAME: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
DEVELOPER(S): Starbreeze Studios
PUBLISHER(S): 505 Games
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360
GENRE(S): Puzzle Adventure
RELEASE DATE(S): August 7th, 2013
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a puzzle platform game from developers Starbreeze Studios. The beautiful graphics and breathtaking landscapes impressed me right away. The characters are rather smooth and cartoony while the backgrounds have a painted landscape appeal although they compliment each other nicely. Its a gorgeous game all in all. It begins in a quaint mountain town but progresses into a series of unique and more interesting terrains. From underground mining operations overseen by trolls, forested mountains with cascading waterfalls, darker wooded paths with danger lurking, icy arctic towns with crystal clear bodies of water filled with breaching orca-like creatures and an ominous battlefield strewn with an army of dead giants, there’s plenty of visuals to soak in. There are viewing benches strategically placed throughout the game that the brothers can sit on allowing the player a panoramic view and sneak peak of their next destination.
This roughly three hour game seemed almost more of a movie. Although the gameplay is relatively short, it needn’t be longer. I beat this game in one sitting, completely sucked into the story by the end of the first hour of gameplay. Brothers is strongly story driven, evoking raw human emotion not common in the majority of today’s popular titles. The story begins with the younger brother Naiee kneeling at his mothers grave. It soon becomes clear that the boy is left with his older brother, Naia, and their ailing father. After bringing their father to the local healer the boys are sent on a quest to find a cure. One of the most intriguing elements to this story is the lack of dialog or subtitling while still giving the player a rich and fully understandable story. The only actual words are the brothers names. All the other dialog is a purely fictional and nonsensical language. The inflection of these words and the body language associated does the speaking for them and is more than just effective. I was left feeling immersed in the characters and invested in their quest to save what was left of their family.
The innovative and quite risky concept of controlling two characters at the same time is challenging and intriguing while also frustrating and confusing at the same time. My first thought was “Why is this not a two player game?” But as the game goes on it becomes essential to the plot. The younger brother is controlled solely by the right thumbstick and right trigger while the older brother is controlled by the left thumbstick and left trigger. The thumbsticks control their movement while the triggers allow interaction with non-playable characters and specific actions can be performed.
Each brother has a unique set of actions that correspond with their personalities and difference in age and size. The older and stronger brother, Naia, will bend down near a rocks ledge while the younger brother, Naiee, has a corresponding action that will allow him to climb up using his brother to lift him up. Using the trigger near gate bars lets Naiee slip between them while Naia is too big to perform this action and has to rely on his younger brother to find a crank to gain access. Brothers is all about team work. I found controlling the correct brother was almost impossible unless kept on the side that corresponded to the controller. Once your brain has adapted to the controls, its rather simple. Until then you’ll be running one brother into a wall while the other roams aimlessly. When interacting with the non-playable characters, each brother acts age appropriate. The younger brother is more playful and mischievous while the big brother is polite and serious.
The plethora of puzzles you’ll have to solve are pretty simple but full of small tasks that need to be completed in a specific order. Choosing which brother is best suited for each step while controlling both at the same time gives these puzzles their complexity. There are so many different types of puzzles and they change with the terrain and story setting. Sure, they could have made the puzzles a little more challenging but I think the whole purpose was to allow the player a smooth story. Getting stuck on a puzzle until frustration sets in would have taken away from the beautiful fluid journey. Just as you feel like you’re mastering it, you’re on to the next.
Don’t let this game pass you by. It’s an amazing story with a plot twist that will plunge you into an emotional roller coaster. Brothers A Tale of Two Sons is by far one of the most innovative and masterful gaming creations I’ve ever encountered. I can’t give this game enough praise and it’s a must buy for any gamer who loves a good story.