BADGP Reviews: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Starbreeze Studios / 505 Games)
Review: A True Must-Play for Anyone Looking for Emotion in Gaming
September 18, 2013
I’m going to put this out there early: I’m a sucker for games that try to promote emotional response in the player. Journey and Persona 4 and Yakuza 3 hold special places in my gaming pantheon because they all caused me to feel something I’d not previously experienced in the gaming medium. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons seeks to provide an emotional gaming experience while offering a fairly unique gameplay hook: you control both of the game’s main characters with both of the control sticks (at least in the console versions) at the same time. Meaning that the elder brother is controlled with the left control stick, and the younger is controlled with the right. At the same time. Sound disorienting? Because it definitely can be!
So What’s the Gameplay Actually Like?
I’m glad I asked! Well, though the thought of playing two characters simultaneously may seem like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, a bit of practice makes a world of difference. By the end of the first hour, you’ll be piloting the brothers around the beautifully-realized environments without much effort. That’s good, because the game will start demanding more and more of you as the game progresses. The gameplay in Brothers largely consists of puzzles and platforming, and each brother only uses one button on the controller to interact with the world (the left and right triggers). While I don’t want to spoil any specific moments (which would mean a lot, as the game is only about three to four hours long), suffice it to say that certain types of movements will make you stop and think about the control inputs you need to use, and, as someone who is very familiar with a controller in their hand, that’s a novel feeling.
How Does the Game Look and Sound?
In a word: fantastic. Despite Brothers being “merely” a downloadable, Unreal Engine 3 game, some of the environments are simply stunning to look at. The game knows this, in fact, and routinely provides stone benches for the characters to sit on, zooming the camera out to let you bask in the visual glory. Not only does the game simply look spectacular, it also features incredibly varied environments. Despite being only a few hours long, Brothers will take you on a journey ranging from quaint villages and farmyards to ancient castles, and underground mines to winter wonderlands. The moment you may begin to tire of the way the game looks, you find yourself in an entirely new area to explore.
The sound design is also similarly impressive. The people within the world of Brothers speak no English, instead speaking a made-up gibberish language. This is interesting in that, despite this, plenty of emotion is conveyed in the characters’ voices, and their gestures and behaviors are always more than enough to convey to the player what’s going on. The music is also impressive, highlighting emotional moments well. Though I cannot recommend or remember any specific tracks, Brothers’ score highlights what’s on the screen without drawing too much attention to itself, which more than serves its’ purpose.
At the beginning of this review, I made specific mention of Journey, and with good reason; both are short, downloadable experiences centered on the travels of their main character (or characters), and both seek to provoke some sort of emotional response from the player. Journey was easily among my favorite games of 2012, and it seems assured that Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons will hold a similar spot for me this year. I know I haven’t made light of many specifics while describing this game, and that’s simply because saying anything specific will rob you of at least some of the great moments in store while you play. The game’s not perfect, and there were a few camera issues that made surveying the environments occasionally difficult, but Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a more-than-worthy purchase, and will, undoubtedly, be one of the most memorable gaming experiences you’ll have this year.
BADGP: 9.2 out of 10