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PAX: Two Brothers brings the old-school ambition

A classic style for a new generation

8:00 PM on 03.23.2013     by Brett Makedonski

After more than doubling its modest Kickstarter goal of $6,000, AckkStudios has been hard at work on Two Brothers. The team's perseverance shines in the demo that's on display at PAX East, as its crowdfunded project shows signs of being something truly special.

If the style seems familiar, that's because it is. The developers enthusiastically admit that the game's heavily influenced by Link's Awakening, Pokemon, and Legend of Mana. While it borrows from past works, Two Brothers has a premise that's wholly its own.

Two Brothers tells the story of Roy Guarder, a scientist in a monochrome world that's driven to find out what caused the beginning of life. During his studies, he dies and is taken to an afterlife that's characterized by radiant 16-bit color. He becomes obsessed with bringing this color from the heavens to the living world.

Predictably, the feat doesn't look like it'll be easily accomplished. Drawing from its influences, Two Brothers is geared toward combat, puzzle-solving, and exploration. The demo highlighted some of each in a scaled-down, fully-formed Zelda homage that was about 15 minutes long. While the experience was brief, it didn't take long to feel right at home in the game's world. Almost everything about it evoked memories of a bygone era.

The only noticeable problem so far is that some of the mechanics felt vague and abstract. It was unclear at times what the central theme was behind some of the puzzles. My intuition tells me that it's the kind of unfamiliarity that comes from being introduced to a game on the fly, and not so much a result of shoddy design.

AckkStudios is eyeing a summer 2013 release on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Wii U's eShop. The developers claim that they're 75 percent done, with the remaining work being simple refining and polish. If the final product is akin to the demo on the PAX East showfloor, Two Brothers is shaping up to be a refreshing reminder of a sorely missed era of gaming.









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