Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Xbox 360 Review
Publisher: 505 Games Developer: Starbreeze Studios Genre: Adventure Players: 1
Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: PS3
If you didn’t already know, you’d be forgiven if you were to mistaken Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons for a cooperative multiplayer game. Yes, it has two characters that are required to work together to get through the game, although it’s a single player only experience, and is also a relatively clever one too.
The story stars the two titular brothers (referred to as only Big Brother and Little Brother) who are forced on a quest to save their dying father. Like Team ICO’s games, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons can be described as minimalistic in terms of its plot, and, with a made up language and lack of subtitled dialogue, you won’t even know what the characters are saying, so you’ll learn through imagery what is happening in the story. As I said, it’s rather thin on storytelling, although what is there is certainly powerful stuff, and the emphasis on a sibling storyline and a strong brotherly bond is rarely something that has been touched upon in gaming.
Being a single player cooperative game is rather unique, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons takes the idea and does some interesting things with it. For the majority of the game the brothers will be together, and you control each individual with an analog stick as well as two interact buttons, which does prove to be rather tricky at first, but should become a lot easier for most after only a little while spent in its world.
The game is largely comprised of puzzles, and there’s some rather clever ones here in terms of object manipulation and whatnot, but these are definitely puzzles that will prove a breeze to solve for many. I’m hardly a great puzzle solver myself, but I managed to get through this game without once resorting to any outside help.
Still, like I said, there is some rather clever and well designed puzzles in here. Many of these puzzles are switch based, but others have you moving around objects in order to get them to a certain place. They are definitely what can be considered logical puzzles with mostly crystal clear solutions, and few will have any pauses in their adventure as they struggle to decide what to do next.
The two brothers each have their own talents. Big Brother for example can pull large levers and boost his brother to higher ledges, while the younger of the two can squeeze through smaller gaps due to his more diminutive size, and is unable to swim so has to ride on his big brother’s back.
Even though the game has a dialogue all of its own, you’ll still be able to learn about each individual brother through their actions. Big Brother is the more sensible of the two, while Little Brother is the most mischievous one. It’s fun to just interact with optional objects just to see how each brother will react, and it gives you a greater connection to the two characters.
During the rather brief time that the game lasts, there’s definitely plenty of memorable moments. It would be wrong of me to mention too many of these moments, although I do like the section that has the two brothers tethered together with a rope to scale a tower, as well as some of the wild rides down swollen rivers.
Yes, at £9.99 and at only three hours or so long with no immediate replay value to speak of, the game is overpriced for what it is, but it’s still a varied and wonderful adventure while it lasts, and, in my book, with its storybook world and surprisingly good plot, it’s one of the most memorable experiences of the year.
Visually, with its beautiful and artistic look, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a gorgeous game. The characters are well animated, and the world they inhabit is utterly beautiful. Many of the environments also have a wonderful sense of scale, and just sitting on one of the many benches and viewing the depth and scale of this fantastically realised world is such a beautiful thing. Add in the lovely soundtrack, and everything just meshes together so brilliantly well.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons may feel rather awkward to play at first and it disappointedly ends all too soon, but, like I mentioned earlier, this is one wonderful gaming experience. The story of two brothers as they adventure to save their dying father is a very simple but powerful one, and such a focus on a sibling storyline is a rare one, which makes experiencing it all the more worthwhile. It may be lacking in length and difficulty level, but a lot of effort has been made to try and make up for it in other areas of the game.