Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review – 9.2
***For full review experience; play the audio above while reading the review*** The music is the theme song and ending theme song from the game. We do not take any credit for the creation of the music. It is simply there for enjoyment while reading the review!
August 20th: It was just past midnight and I was sitting in my recliner, drinking a beer while scanning through the Xbox Live marketplace. I hadn’t managed to pick up a new game that week, so I was looking for something new to play. After 5 minutes or so I came across a unique looking title called Brothers: A Tale of Two of Sons. I previously heard whispers about this game from other gaming outlets but didn’t know too much about it. Being cautiously optimistic, I decided to download the demo and give it a shot. After a 10 minute download I grabbed another beer and sat down for some action. I was immediately floored by the art in the game. It has a similar art style to Fable, but feels unique in its own way. Not only was the art pleasing, the menu music was fantastic. You know you have a great menu track when you can let it loop three times before starting the game. Once you begin the demo, it throws you 20 minutes into the game. Immediately I cringed. I hate spoilers and hate seeing events out of order. Usually at this point I would just quit the demo but this situation felt different. I decided because of my initial impressions with the art and menu music, I would throw down my Xbox Live points to avoid spoiling anything. Developer Starbreeze Studios had literally won me over in the menu screen. Well done.
Some of you may not recognize who Starbreeze Studios is but they are the developers of the recent Syndicate, and the critically acclaimed Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay from last generation. Many have been waiting awhile for Starbreeze to deliver another hit. Well the wait is over, Brothers is absolutely their best game to date.
Let’s begin with the visuals. While graphics in The Last of Us and the Battlefield series will eventually be surpassed by its sequels or even the next technical marvel; Brothers is a game that could potentially live on for decades with its unique visuals and art direction. At times you will feel as if you are within a fairy tale book. Starbreeze is fully aware of the game’s beauty as well. They have strategically placed wooden benches throughout the world for you to sit on. What do you do while sitting on the benches? Well, stare off at the beautiful vistas and gaze at what is ahead, that’s what!
I could talk about the visuals all day, but it’s not the true standout in the game. Brothers has introduced a brand new gameplay mechanic in which the player controls the two main characters simultaneously with each joystick. The left joystick controls the older brother while the right joystick controls the younger brother. Sound confusing? No worries, it plays much easier than it sounds. Once you get the hang of the controls, you are in for a wonderful time. The game not only has unique puzzles but it allows for many different gameplay scenarios. Below is an example of a sequence where you are controlling the position of the brothers on the hang glider. If the brother on the right side shuffles left the glider starts to glide left, if the brother on the left side shuffles over to the right, you guessed it; the glider begins to glide right. This seems fairly simple on paper but in action it feels extremely satisfying.
Brothers has a very Fable’esque humor to it as well. Similar to Fable, the main characters are mute and expressive with mumbles and grunts alike. A fun mechanic that Starbreeze has thrown into the game is the ability for each brother to interact with different objects in the world. For example, when the older brother interacts with an old man bent over gardening in a nearby village, he will kindly tap the old man’s side to gain his attention. On the other hand, if you decide to have the younger brother get the old man’s attention, he quickly slaps the old man’s ass and laughs about it. At this moment, you will find yourself giggling along with the younger brother, while the older brother shakes his head in disagreement. This part of the design allows the developers to flesh out the two main characters and give them their own personalities. You have the older brother playing the strong/protective/mature one, while the younger brother plays the role of the more nimble/outgoing/fun loving one.
When it comes to the gameplay, the characters are unique as well. The older brother can lift and pull heavy objects while the younger brother can access through small gaps and holes. Aside from the main characters you will run into some unique characters, for example the friendly Troll in the picture below.
Mr. Troll isn’t here to sit around either. He is here to help you and the brothers along; one giant gap at a time. Once you think the game is done introducing new gameplay scenarios, it immediately throws another one at you. Below is another scenario where the brothers are tied together by some rope. Your objective is to hold onto the pegs in the castle wall with one brother while swinging the other brother to the next peg. If you have ever played Climber Brothers on IOS you will know exactly how this feels. The triggers control whether the brothers are holding on and the left and right joysticks control the swinging motion of each brother. Don’t let go with both brothers or it spells death!
FINAL TOAST – 9.2
Alright, now the question is, should you buy this game? Without a doubt in my mind you should buy this game. I immediately wanted to start a second play through once I had finished the game. If you enjoy experiencing new gameplay mechanics in games and you are looking to jump into a fantasy world that is just as enjoyable as it is fun to play, then Brothers is the game for you this summer. Watch out Last of Us… Brothers might be joining you in our game of the year discussion later this year. Well done Starbreeze, well done.
Reviewed by Ben Link (@Ben_Link)