Review: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Title: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed), Playstation 3, PC
Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: 7 August 2013
Tagline: A fantastic story driven game that combines great visuals as well as brilliant plot and gameplay.
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict:Buy it if you’re looking for a game that’s more story focused than most other titles.
Brothers resonated with me from the outset. I obviously knew it was about two brothers, and from that I instantly associated it with myself and my younger brother.
It’s only after the game begins that I realise how apt the comparison is.
The first character you meet is a short, young, fair haired lad and a striking resemblance to my younger brother. You first see him on the mountain side beside his home, mourning the loss of his mother some years ago.
The second playable character, the older brother, is a tall and dark haired, and some years senior, which is actually quite the resemblance to me.
As the second brother turns up the premise for the rest of the story develops. The brother’s father is ill and the sons must travel across the gorgeous, but treacherous world to find the medicinal water that can revive their father.
This is the first moment you control both of the siblings, and controlling 2 characters with one gamepad can take some getting used to. One brother is controlled by the left half of the controller, the other the right half. Each analogue stick and trigger is set to one of the sons and the challenge is to solve the puzzles by making them work together.
Even though there is no real tutorial to speak of, the control scheme is simple and is picked up easily without the game spelling it out for you, and whilst they can feel strange at first, it soon becomes natural and you’ll develop a smooth dynamic between each hand and each brother.
You will be able to interact with nearly everything as you race through the world, either with one brother or another. Some objects will be too heavy for the young lad, and some spaces will be too big to crawl through for the older brother, so each has a skill that compliments the other to allow them to progress and giving them some individuality. Each also has their own personality that shines through when interacting with some of the world’s inhabitants. One of them being the young, playful, prankster, and the other the mature older brother. Some moments show their different personalities but both are as determined as each other to save their father.
Some moments allow the youngster’s child-like wonder to shine through, and others allow the older brother to maturely take control of the situation. There is a strong brotherly dynamic to the two characters that can really be seen growing as the game moves forward. There’s one moment when the older brother must carry the younger through a river as he has a fear of the water after watching his mother drown. If the two become separated the younger will panic and flail, trying not to drown until you are able to reach him and pull him to the surface. It’s moments like this that reinforce the idea of how vital they are to each other and to their quest.
Though there is no dialogue to the game, save for the “sim-like” mumbles that convey conversation, the storyline and premise is presented extremely well. Brothers has a great use of body language and visual and audio cues to present the story line to the player and even allows you to develop a strong sense of immersion and emotional involvement, even if you don’t know the exact words anyone are saying.
You soon find yourself extremely invested in the journey these brothers are taking together, and the beautiful world you’ll be exploring really helps with the level of immersion the game provides.
The environments are as varied as they are detailed; starting out in a quaint mountain town, your journey soon takes you through mines and snowy tundra, and even a giant battlefield. I don’t mean the battlefield is large, I mean that the battlefield is full of giants! Fallen larger than life warriors with huge weapons will block your path. You assume from the start of the game that it’s a fantasy world inhabited by humans, but giants and other fantastical beasts are such a prominent part of the game, you can’t help but wonder who the dominant species are.
As you explore new environments you will have new challenges to overcome and with those come new gameplay mechanics. Navigating your small boat through icy water, swinging from rope to rope to scale a castle tower, you are even able to fly through valleys on a crazy inventor’s glider. Each mechanic is unique and interesting, but my favourite thing about them is that they are introduced, used, and then weaned from the gameplay before you ever have a chance to become bored or tired of them.
I’ll do my best to remain spoiler free, but I have to say, this game is an emotional one. I actually shed a tear at one point of the game and I can honestly not recall many games that have had that effect on me. It was only a single tear and a manly one at that…..
It really is incredible how the story has been presented without the use of voice or written text, just the body language and emotion that even these simple, nameless characters show is incredible, there’s a lot more emotion in Brothers than there is in a lot of big-budget games with fancy scripts.
I highly recommend Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, it’s definitely a story driven game but also a gem of the Xbox live arcade. Not terribly long but I think that works in its benefit as it prevents the story from dragging, and with the great story telling the length of the game felt just right. Definitely pick it up; it’s a great game and not too pricey either.
- Fantastic Visuals
- Great Storytelling
- Interesting and intuitive gameplay
- Controls can take some getting used to