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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review

Posted by Peter Nickless On Thursday 3 October 2013Comments Off

Available on XBLA, PSN and PC l Published by 505 Games l Developed by Starbreeze Studios l Classified M l Supports 1 player

REVIEW IN BRIEF > Brothers: A Tale of Two sons is a masterpiece. It doesn’t arrive with a bang, it doesn’t plunge you into great action set pieces or demand that you level up for multiplayer. Instead, it provides genuinely innovative gameplay, an abundance of character and an ending that really makes you feel the weight of the journey. I couldn’t recommend this more.

REVIEW IN FULL > After making a name for itself with better than expected licensed offerings like The Chronicles of Riddick and The Darkness, Starbreeze is moving into the downloadable realm with the magnificent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

Puzzles and climbing sections are not overly difficult, but rather a means to experience the world.

The story starts, shockingly, with a little boy in a boat watching his mother drown. Things take a further turn for the worse when his father also falls ill. After seeing a local healer, the boy and his brother embark on a quest to find a magical elixir that can restore their father. The boys must work together to keep each other safe and make the most of their unique abilities in order to progress.

Brothers is a joy to play, but it confronts you early with a novel approach to controlling the two characters simultaneously. Each thumbstick guides one of the brothers and the corresponding trigger instigates an action for that brother. This is introduced simply at first, with one brother needing to control a winch while the other is propelled on a platform. Later, you need to move the brothers at the same time. You may, for example, use one to distract a monster while the other hits a switch.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you come to identify each thumbstick with the character it controls. Puzzles and climbing sections are not overly difficult, but rather  a means to experience the world. You definitely feel like you’re meant to make it to the end of your journey. Each level adds to the impression of a lived in world. Little moments of joy and pain are expressed by characters you pass on the road and even by the animals that cross your path.

Most sections require you to traverse an area by following a clearly labelled path. Simple switch puzzles are often alternated with climbing sections and the world’s denizens can help or hinder you. The sad troll helps you find his wife by using his arms as bridges and carrying you over large gaps. In one intense sequence, you’re guided through a frozen town in which you must avoid an invisible monster by hiding behind the frozen bodies of trapped townsfolk. Failure means being eaten. Another section tasks you will flying a glider, making it bank by moving each character left or right on the bar. All of these unique sections highlight the versatility of the thumbstick control and break up the gameplay between areas.

Brothers looks beautiful and wears its Norse inspiration with pride.

Brothers looks beautiful and wears its Norse inspiration with pride. Characters feature excellent facial animation as they react to each other and the other people you encounter. Voice work takes the form of babble rather than an actual language and has the effect of making the characters even more endearing as the tone and expressiveness of each gesture is enhanced. All of the characters are given personal moments to show grief, surprise, anger or joy.

Ultimately, this game demands your attention because it evokes a strong connection with the characters and builds towards a genuinely brave and moving conclusion. Brothers is a game that you cannot afford to miss.

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