Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
The Xbox Live “Summer of Arcade” is here and kicks-off with “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons”, and I must say that I truly enjoyed this little gem. Brothers: The Tale of Two Sons is a light puzzle adventure that puts two brothers on a journey to find an elixir (some magically healing water) to cure their ailing father. Along the way they will encounter obstacles and challenges where they will need to rely on each other in order to survive or progress. It quickly becomes a touching story where players will likely connect and care about their little adventurers along the way.
When I first started playing Brothers, I wasn’t convinced that I’d enjoy it because it seemed very “simple” in every way possible except for the unique control scheme that will delight some, confuse more, and frustrate others – more on that in a minute. By simple, I mean the character models were basic, the story begins somewhat tragically but childish and whimsical at the same time, and the puzzles would make puzzle master Mandy scoff at their relative ease. Overall the game genuinely lacks any real challenge and younger inexperienced gamers will feel right at home with this title. Some may disagree, but while this game may lack challenge, it never feels boring or unnecessary. The overall art design of the environments, including immersive sound effects coupled with an engaging story and one of the most fitting musical scores that I’ve ever heard, all pulled me in and never let me go for the duration of this fun and surprising, all be it short 3 hour experience. The levels are similar enough to make you believe that you are traversing across one big world; however, they offer up enough differences that you’ll always be looking forward to what you might see and experience next, and I have to say – you will very likely be delighted and surprised! The musical score is a cross between Peter Jackson’s LOTRs trilogy and James Cameron’s Avatar, and some of the environments may remind you of the same.
Now back to that control scheme… You play this game as two brothers, at the same time…. It’s like a co-op experience played in single player mode. The player controls one brother with the left stick and the other brother with the right stick, and it does take some getting used to. The unfortunate thing here is that by the time you really start feeling comfortable with the controls, your adventure is over. I don’t know if I ever really loved the controls, but I didn’t hate them either. What I do know is that they worked well, and honestly offered up a new gaming mechanic that I have never experienced before, and perhaps this is one area that the player could excuse some of the lacking challenge in puzzle design as the controls can pose a bit of a learning curve.
Without giving any spoilers, this game reminds me of some titles that I’ve played in the past: Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, Where The Wild Things Are, and Ico. It reminds me the most of a project from the infamous Team Ico, and at one point really makes me feel like I must play their “missing in action” title The Last Guardian. If you are ready for a fairytale type adventure that doesn’t last that much longer than a fantasy movie, I’d recommend this as a BUY. Be ready for a story that’s really about Life, Love, Loss, and more so….coming of age and family. You’ll experience adventure, light puzzles, and environments that you will simply enjoy. In the end, this is another one of those games that is more about the story and the experience rather than the challenge, and at the same time it becomes a work of art. If this sounds like your type of game – It’s a MUST PLAY – I am going to play it again today with my daughter!