Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake Review – Twin-stick Tearjerker

If you haven't played this gem before, this remake is the best way to do so.

Posted By | On 27th, Feb. 2024

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake Review – Twin-stick Tearjerker

Developed by Starbreeze Studios by a team led by Josef Fares – who would go on to form Hazelight Studios and direct the likes of A Way Out and It Takes Two – the original Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons still holds a special place in the hearts of many, more than a decade on from its release. From its unique gameplay premise of controlling two characters simultaneously to the simultaneously heartwarming and heartrending story it told to the unique, nearly-worldless manner through which it chose to tell it, the charming adventure game made a lot of fans when it released back in 2013, and its timeless quality has only endeared it to more people as time has gone on.

That timeless quality is a tricky thing though, because publisher 505 Games has now come out with a remake of the game developed by Avantgarden, one that very faithfully recreates the original. That, of course, means that everything that made the original game great is present and accounted for in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake as well, while some things have even seen minor yet noticeable improvements. At the same time, given how faithfully the remake sticks to the source material, the question is going to be worth asking- is it worth picking up if you own the original game?

"Brothers’ setting, which is one of its strongest points, is brought to life to great effect in the remake. Environments have a vibrant, fairy tale-esque look to them, and with a greater level of detail in the environments and on character models, everything feels just that much more alive and full of personality."

The areas where Brothers Remake makes the most noticeable improvements are, as you might imagine, the visuals. The original was never a graphical behemoth, and neither is the remake, but there’s no doubting that the latter represents quite a step up in terms of pure visual quality. The original, of course, still looks quite pleasant, thanks to the fact that it was always a gone that derived most of its visual strengths from its charming aesthetic and art design rather than any major technical accomplishments, but the technical upgrades that the remake does introduce allow that strong aesthetic to flourish that much more.

Brothers’ setting, which is one of its strongest points, is brought to life to great effect in the remake. Environments have a vibrant, fairy tale-esque look to them, and with a greater level of detail in the environments and on character models, everything feels just that much more alive and full of personality. Whether it’s the more nuanced animations you see on characters’ faces that allow the game’s more impactful narrative moments to have more of an impact, or sequences where the camera zooms out to show larger environments and their mystical, natural beauty, Brothers Remake looks consistently impressive, and is able to do an even job of transporting players to its settings than the original game did. That’s not to say it’s a completely spotless experience – I did occasionally run into some visual bugs, like objects and assets shimmering in the distance, or textures taking a couple extra seconds to load in – but barring some intermittent hiccups, it’s a visually pleasant and charming game.

On the gameplay front, Brothers Remake makes little to no changes to its source material. From the controls to everything that happens throughout the two brothers’ journey, everything that you remember from the original game is here, with the game hitting the same beats and offering up the same puzzles, platforming sequences, environmental interactions, and more. Thankfully, most of it still works as well as it did back in 2013.

brothers a tale of two sons remake

"On the gameplay front, Brothers Remake makes little to no changes to its source material. From the controls to everything that happens throughout the two brothers’ journey, everything that you remember from the original game is here, with the game hitting the same beats and offering up the same puzzles, platforming sequences, environmental interactions, and more."

The puzzles are never too elaborate, but they do get increasingly complex and engaging as you’re tasked with simultaneously coordinating the two brothers’ actions in tandem, culminating in some particularly well-designed sequences. A lot of the gameplay also relies on the two brothers simply interacting with mundane things in their surroundings, from objects lying around to animals milling about to people going about their business and more. Seeing how each brother behaves in these entirely optional interactions never gets old, and just as in the original, you’ll be rewarded – narratively, if not mechanically – for constantly seeking out these small but memorable moments.

One issue that I do have – and it was one that many had even with the original back when it first released – is the controls. On paper, Brothers sounds like a very simply game to control- you control the older brother with the left stick and trigger, and the younger brother with the right stick and trigger, and those simple, straightforward inputs govern every single action you take throughout the entirety of your roughly three-hour playthrough. Very quickly, however, you realize that simultaneously controlling two characters can be a bit of an unwieldy experience. Even when you’re simply walking through environments and not doing much else, it’s more than likely that you’re going to be struggling to just get the two brothers to move about like, you know, normal people. It can get pretty frustrating at times, and though these frustrations were easier to forgive in the original game, where the very concept of controlling two characters simultaneously in such a manner was a novel one, here, in this remake, that novelty is gone by default, and in its wake, the frustrations feel a bit more pronounced. Thankfully, Brothers Remake has the option to play the game in co-op, and it does become a much smoother experience that way, even if it loses some of its moment-to-moment uniqueness.

The game is just as faithful of a recreation from a narrative perspective as well- which, considering the fact that the original is still one of the most heartrending and effectively told stories in a game even now, works in its favour. Characters in Brothers’ world do speak, but they don’t do it often, and when they do, they speak in a fictional, made-up language. The vast majority of the story is told through worldless interactions and through the environment, and from its lighthearted moments to the darker and more harrowing sequences that characterize the game’s latter half, it rarely misses the mark. This is a short game, clocking in at just about three hours (or thereabouts), but in that short time, it definitely leaves a lasting impression.

brothers a tale of two sons remake

"The controls can get pretty frustrating at times, and though these frustrations were easier to forgive in the original game, where the very concept of controlling two characters simultaneously in such a manner was a novel one, here, in this remake, that novelty is gone by default, and in its wake, the frustrations feel a bit more pronounced."

But again, we come back to our original question- is this a remake worth spending your money on if you already own the original? If you haven’t, the answer is an easy yes, thanks to the excellent storytelling and setting and the straightforward but enjoyable gameplay mechanics. If you have, however, a purchase gets much harder to justify, not only because this is such a conventional and faithful remake, but also because of the fact that the original game is still very easily accessible in modern hardware, and at pretty low prices to boot (not to mention the fact that this is quite a short game). Mileage will vary on whether the visual upgrades are enough to justify that purchase, but there will invariably be caveats to any decision you make here.

On its own merits, the original Brothers was an excellent game, so a remake that faithfully brings all of its strengths forward into an experience that makes noticeable visual upgrades will keeping the experience’s core unchanged is bound to be good. Even if returning fans may not have as much of a reason to double dip here, for those who’ve never played the original, Brothers Remake is the best way to experience one of the most impactful narrative experiences in gaming in years.

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.


THE GOOD

A noticeable visual bump brings the game's world to life excellently; Simultaneously heartwarming and heartrending story and storytelling; Simple yet engaging gameplay and puzzles.

THE BAD

The controls can be frustrating; Almost faithful to a fault.

Final Verdict:
GREAT
From its incredible story and how well it tells it to its wonderfully realized setting and more, all of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons' biggest strengths are present and accounted for in the remake. Given how faithful of a recreation it is though, those who own the original will likely wonder if the remake is worth a purchase.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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