Brothers in arms.
Brothers is a journey, both figuratively and emotionally as we become invested in our two main protagonist’s story. We follow two siblings, the older one being stronger, confident and determined on the mission ahead. The younger Brother however is playful, excitable and often mischievous.
This isn’t something that we learn through cutscenes or an in game bio, we learn details of the character’s personalities as we have them interact with the environment throughout their travels. For example, having the older Brother interact with a harp will see him painfully pluck a few sharp notes whereas the little brother turns up and renders a beautiful melody. This is entirely optional and is there for inquisitive players who want to discover more about the two boys that bring us on their journey.
Brothers follows the two siblings as they journey through a Nordic inspired realm to retrieve a cure for their dying father. It’s a sombre story with heavy themes surrounding death, loss and fear but is handled in a charming way that never becomes overbearing. The journey takes the brothers from a small time village bustling with quirky characters to pitch black forests, deathly mountain-scapes and frozen lakes with dangers lurking beneath. Each new environment constantly astounds with the scale and beauty it beholds, creating a sense of achievement as we navigate each segment.
"The control scheme is deceptively simple however the challenge comes when the puzzles arrive, which usually requires the brothers to split off and handle their own section simultaneously."
Developer Starbreeze has created an innovative way of controlling both characters simultaneously through the twin analogue sticks. The left stick corresponds to the older brother who traditionally remains on the left side of the screen and the right stick controlling the younger brother. The only other buttons used are the triggers each corresponding their respective twin allowing them to interact with the environment in a multitude of ways.
The control scheme is deceptively simple however the challenge comes when the puzzles arrive, which usually requires the brothers to split off and handle their own section simultaneously. There will be times when one brother will hold a dying branch which the other will cling onto for dear life whilst being lifted over death defying cliff edges. This requires certain finger gymnastics as the player controls the two at the same time, ensuring neither falls to certain death.
It’s a fun mechanic and one that you will never truly master as the brothers will often cross over to the wrong side of the screen sending your brain into a puddled mess as to which one you’re moving and in which direction. However it is immensely satisfying when you get it right and see the brothers tackle dangerous situations with finesse.
"Brothers is a relatively short game at around 4-5 hours provided you’ve explored the areas and not just breezed through which is something you wouldn’t want to do with a game like this."
Brothers looks beautiful. Every environment is crafted with love to create an epic sense of scale and awe-inspiring beauty, it’s almost like a painting you’d see in an old house. The camera really helps show off the environment as it constantly flows between shots highlighting the environment the boys find themselves in. A slow pan through a bramble of bushes and upwards to a stunning vista of mountains and lakes is the norm here and ushers in a grand, cinematic feel.
The boys come across many unique characters along their journey from villagers and trolls in love to a mad scientist. Some characters are entirely optional whether you have the brothers interact with them or not. Doing so will reveal more story to the land and some encounters even have surprising emotional context so it’s definitely worth exploring and interacting with everything you come across.
Brothers is a relatively short game at around 4-5 hours provided you’ve explored the areas and not just breezed through which is something you wouldn’t want to do with a game like this. It’s a sombre yet fun story told through character interactions and the endearing gibberish language they speak, allowing us to glean the information from their body language. I became attached to these characters through their journey which paid off at the emotionally charged conclusion.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Fantastic storytelling through subtle interactions, Beautiful environments teeming with life, Innovative and satisfying puzzles.
Dodgy character models when seen up close, Control scheme has a tendency to become confusing.
Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons is a beautifully crafted tale which plays like an adventure/puzzle game yet has parallels to an interactive storybook. This is a journey worth embarking on.