It all starts innocently enough with a pair of brothers making their way through town. Sure, there's a task at hand, but urgency isn't an issue. It should be, but it isn't. Soaking in the warm glow of the sun and playing with some bunnies feel like more pertinent matters.
Before long, it's not apparent where the siblings are, but it's obvious that they took an unexpected turn toward Crazyville. Thinking back to just a few hours prior, it's remarkable that this is even the same adventure -- how far things have come.
That's when it hits you. Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons isn't about the destination; it's about the journey, cliché be damned. And, oh, what a journey it is.
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons (Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed], PlayStation Network, PC) Developer: Starbreeze Studios Publisher: 505 Games Released: August 7, 2013 (XBLA), TBA (PSN, PC) MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points, $14.99
Brothers follows, well, two brothers as they embark on a quest to cure their ailing father. Despite speaking in a language of gibberish, it's easy to pick up on each's character traits. The blue one is older, stronger, respectful, and more emotionally mature. The red one is younger, mischievous, and nimble. As expected, they play off one another, and the game does a good job depicting them as incomplete parts to a cohesive whole unit.
The most easily recognizable theme of Brothers is the bond between siblings, and Starbreeze turned this into the core mechanic of the game. The left analog stick controls the movement of the blue brother, the right analog stick controls the movement of the red brother, and the respective triggers function as each's action button. The pared-down control scheme offers a level of simplicity that's rarely seen in videogames, which would be nice if it worked fluidly.
Unfortunately, the dueling-stick approach never becomes consistently comfortable. It isn't bad when the brothers are moving side-by side, but it's difficult to replicate when they're further apart. Throughout the three to four hour game, moments of Zen-like unity occasionally occur, which are quickly erased when the camera swings around and you've unwittingly made one brother run into a wall.
Surprisingly, the control issues aren't game-breaking. In fact, they're relatively easy to look past. They constantly walk the line between "kind of irksome" and "frustrating", but never really cross it. It's completely due to Brothers' structure that this is the case. A more challenging game might not get a pass, but Brothers makes it evident that it's not here to challenge you.
Rather, Brothers almost always moves along at a relaxed pace. You'd be hard-pressed to qualify its puzzles as such, because nearly all of them have an immediately obvious solution that's easy to perform and difficult to screw up. It's less about skill, and more about carrying out the requisite actions to further the adventure. It's possible to die, but if it happens, you likely won't make the same mistake twice.
There's a bit in chapter four where the brothers are tethered together by a rope and need to climb around the outside of a structure. As one brother hangs on, the other pendulums laterally to the next hold. It's an uncomplicated section, and most will instantly identify the required strategy. However, when it comes to implementation, it's tough to not feel a sort of guilty cleverness if you move through the area too fast, almost as if you're somehow outsmarting the game.
That's how Brothers lures you in -- with its accessibility. It provides comfort with its simple puzzles, radiantly beautiful backdrops, and charming musical score. It's truly immersive, especially in the first hour or so (I'm convinced that a heads-up display would provide no greater disservice to a game than to this one). Then, things go off the rails.
For a game that sets the tone with such serenity and a lackadaisical carefree attitude, Brothers turns dark and it does so quickly. I don't wish to spoil a single instance, but Brothers certainly crescendos throughout the entire experience, as it all becomes progressively more bleak and somber. Everything from narrative points to set pieces to isolated incidents that you weren't even necessarily supposed to find, they all ooze a positively depressing aura that seemed impossible from the outset.
All of this is made considerably more notable by the fact that Brothers is a love story, or, maybe more accurately, a collection of love stories. Regardless of how melancholy things may get, there's always a love-induced spirit overshadowing everything, for better and for worse. Whether it's a pair of cave trolls reunited, a man absolutely wrecked by the death of his family, or even a couple of birds that have been uncaged and found one another again, Brothers never lets the player forget that love is the primary motif for this tale.
That's precisely what makes Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons so endearing -- the undeniable contrast created by the highs and lows that come with the entire experience being driven by love. It's so strong that it even dwarfs the game's core mechanical flaws, making them feel trivial when they should sully the whole affair. It's a powerful venture that isn't necessarily about where you began or where you end up; it's about everything that happened in between.
Brothers - a Tale of Two Sons - Reviewed by Brett Makedonski
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.
Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.
Nathan D "Everlasting. True love. I am yours." -Rule of Rose T^TShinta MGO's pretty fun! I suck at it though. I mostly hang back and just mark enemies and get the occasional sniper kill. It's pretty fun to be semi-useful with a very hands off role like that. Love my avatar character guy too.Mike Martin Fuck Insecticonsnanashi they pooped in my food they pooped in my food they pooped in my food they pooped in my food https://youtu.be/t-mKHCMhkEURobo Panda Z I have been accused of the greatest of crimes - cookie snobbery.KyWii Rock Band 4 is really fun...takes me back to my teenage days of high school. Also reminds me of all the hours I wasted on a plastic guitar instead of getting better on a real one xDAvoclefo Team Fortress 2 just got a massive community-made Invasion update. SFM short, reskins, cosmetics, and 4 brand new maps?!?! God, I love this game and its wonderful community so, so much.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yQlDnIAR14[/youtube]Rad Party God AARRGGGHHHH!!!, GODDAMIT!, fucking SOMA has crashed 3 fucking times in a row and I always lose ~20 minutes of playtime!, playing the same section over and over kinda ruins the tension! >.<'OverlordZetta N-Not that P1 isn't perfect the way she is! Isn't that right sweetie? Yes it... Oh, now don't you go and listen to those P2 fans! They just go around spreading rumors and pretending Hitler was just a handsome gentleman in sunglasses, that's what THEY do!OverlordZetta Persona Q has made me realize I really want a Persona 1 remake on 3DS in a similar style. A lot. A loooooooot. You listening, Atlus?VIRGO Super Mario Maker, the announcement of Sonic Lost World for Steam, and remembering all of the mods that got made for the PC version of Sonic Generations makes me wish SEGA/Sonic Team would make their own dedicated Sonic level creation game. gajknight Hey, is your fridge running? You better catch it. I mean, it has all your food, and without food, you die. Like, forever. You don't wanna die right? If you die, how will you watch The Good wife with your favourite bowl of Ben and Jerry's ice cream? Go. CJ Andriessen My local Best Buy is drowning in Marth & Dark Pit amiiboGoofierBrute Spooky yet totally true gaming fact: the bushes and the clouds in Super Mario Bros are the same exact shape. #SpookySr Churros It is coming fast AAAAAAH http://blogs.sega.com/2015/10/06/3d-sonic-the-hedgehog-2-included-in-the-sega-3d-classics/Fuzunga The newest PS4 update finally got rid of that bug where I'd get the "you can customize your power options" message every time I turned on my console!El Dango Should I just pass on MGSV? I haven't really liked any of the games after Snake Eater, and it's being used as a money sink at the moment.Mike Martin [Youtube]https://youtu.be/2ccP8sUyT4w[/youtube] All the episodes are on youtube now. Also I never knew they got to do a season 3. Pretty cool. Now back to Transformers. Scored a gc to my favorite thai place too. Pad ahoy bitches. It's been too long. ashamasha i have almost all the pieces i need to build my own Arcade machine... and the last one arrive this Saturday! Soon, one my childhood dream will became true!RadicalYoseph Interviewer: Konami, why are you selling cosmetic DLC for MGSV?
Konami exec: I breathe through my skin.