For a developer whose last two games have been First Person Shooters, Brothers, A Tale of Two Sons (from here on in referred to as just ‘Brothers’) is a marked departure, with a lot more in common with the likes of Ico and Journey. With a surprisingly dark story and a unique control scheme, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and amusing short little title to launch this years XBLA Summer of Arcade.
The titular Brothers take us on journey through a fantastical land as they travel to find a mystical tree that will cure their sick Father.
Along the way they will encounter huge Troll-like creatures, and flying four legged beasts. This is very much a fairytale, but also a dark story, less Han Christian Andersen and more the Brothers Grimm, one where there is an inherent sense of loss and sadness through out. It’s a beautifully painted and realised world and the artwork is reminiscent of Albion in the Fable series.
Ostensibly a puzzle game, the hook is the unique control scheme. The elder brother is controlled with the left stick, the younger with the right, with the corresponding trigger used for context sensitive actions. I will call this new genre a ‘Bro ‘Em Up’! Much of the sheer joy in the game comes from seeing what each brother does. For example, find a well and the elder brother will yell down it, whilst his sibling will spit down it. Or speak to a drunk sat on a bench and the elder will show him a map, hoping to get a fix on where to go next, whilst the younger will swipe his bottle of grog and swig from it, before being sick. He’s a bit of a cheeky kid that one.
The puzzles shouldn’t cause anyone any headaches, but the unique control scheme makes them harder to solve as you’ll find the one you think you are controlling is now running off in the wrong direction. This could be considered frustrating, but it all adds to the charm of this endearing game, where the aim is simply to keep the brothers together on their quest.
Achievements aren’t unlocked for completing a particular level, but from performing certain random actions, and it’s great when one suddenly unlocks, simply by looking at a statue and seeing a shooting star in the distance, or sitting down on a bench and watching the killer whales leap about in the icy water below you. I won’t spoil any more of them.
The game will only take you around 4 hours to complete, and whilst this could be considered poor value at 1200 points (or £9.99 if your Xbox is now on real money) it really is a case of quality over quantity, with each chapter adding a new twist on the already revealed mechanics.
Overall, a great and unique title that is over all too soon.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: Xbox360/PS3/PC Release Date: 07/08/2013 (Due Soon on PC and PS3)
Disclosure: Damien purchased a copy of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of several days on an Xbox360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.