From the dev team that brought us games like The Darkness, Chronicles of Riddick, and Syndicate, Starbreeze Studios have tried something refreshing and much appreciated. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons keeps the narrative-driven gaming trend going this year with relateable interactions and development in an unforgettable journey.
The game starts off showing a flashback of the mother of the two sons' death. Whilst reminiscing on that tragic day, the two brothers' father falls ill. After a trip to the local doctor, the brothers are told about the water from the 'tree of life' which appears to be the only way to save their dad, and so their quest begins.
Right off the bat the visuals are phenomenal, making use of the Unreal Engine 3. Vibrant colors shown in various settings such as forests, mountains, dungeons, and small towns, nice cell-shading style, detailed shadows...for an indie-style game, it actually looks on par or even better than some AAA titles. To top it off, the soundtrack sets the tone and brings the world to life, immerseful and always in the back of your mind whilst playing (see video at the top to get an idea).
The controls are unlike any I've played before it. You control two characters simultaneously, and whilst there's very few controls to use (movement for either side of analogs, and one button interaction for each brother), how they integrated and executed the controls is brilliant. It takes some getting used to, and you'd tend to forget a finger on a button here or there whilst trying to keep the brothers on track with their mission, but the game isn't punishing. It's simplistic and overall not too difficult to play. The two brothers rely on one another to move forward, both having significant differences to get through various puzzles. However, playing with a keyboard can prove to be frustrating. Definitely recommend a controller (even the Steam page claims it requires a controller to play, although keyboard controls are available).
There is never a dull moment in this game. The pacing is perfect. For such simple mechanics with the unique twist of controlling two characters at once, each segment, or well, chapter, is different and utilizes the innovative controls in a variety of ways. And the best part about the pacing is, and this is a debatable point, the simple puzzles keep the game from detouring and ruining its experience.
Whilst the gameplay and graphics are integral, very fun parts of the game, what outshines more than anything, what brings all the elements together and shapes it into an extraordinary game, is the growth of the brothers. They have to go through hell and high water in order to save their father, and like any group of siblings stuck together for so long, there's going to be rivalry. Their age and clothing show their typical, rather cliche attitudes well, and we need that to piece their styles together as there's no English in this game. There's voice-acting, but done in a fake language allowing us to detail the characters on our own. The brothers encounter various people and things to interact with, with both reacting their own way to any given situation, further drawing their different personalities to us.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an emotional ride. It doesn't just stop with the engaging, roller coaster of a story, it is a well-rounded game with fun controls and beautiful graphics to follow suit. It shows us very, very strong bonds as children, as siblings, as a family...life lessons secretly hidden in this title. This, along with Gone Home, have really set a new mark in gaming today, pushing forward for the better of the industry. And now...I urge anyone who stuck around reading this to try it. We need more games like Brothers. These titles are taking risks and evolving the gaming industry, or have the possibility to, so long as they get more exposure. And even without talking about it, the experience itself is worth the price of admission. A general $15 full retail price for a 3-4 hour game, but there's constant sales and even if you don't catch it during a sale it's still very much worth it. Couldn't recommend Brothers enough. Thank you for reading.