Two years ago a game was released which if it wasn’t for the advent of independently developed titles which combined the lack of a large budget with compelling storylines and unique experiences probably would never have existed apart from in the mind of one man. That man was Josef Fares and the game was Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
You can be forgiven for thinking that Brothers did have a blockbuster budget purely through the amount of creativity that is displayed within the game. A good example of this creativity is shown through the amount of times the same mechanics are repeated, or not repeated in this case. Granted there are the occasional staples such as climbing vines or pulling levers to move things from one place to the other but 99% of the puzzles and solutions are one shot deals never to be seen again in the same playthrough.
The big question however is how can something so simple produce so many emotions? The game begins with a very brief cutscene that shows that the brothers in questions mother drowned in some form of boating accident which was witnessed first-hand by the younger of the two siblings before it is shown that the father has fallen ill and he has to be taken to the village doctor. After a quick visit to the local doctor it is determined that the boys have to work together to retrieve the one thing that the doctor can use to cure their father. That’s it. 86 words and you have the crux of the story. Simple. Effective. Beautiful.
Visually, Fable springs to mind when playing brothers but remember this doesn’t have the big bucks budget that the Fable franchise enjoyed. One of the things that aided the creation of the title on a low budget was the dialogue. No videogame voiceover alumni will be found here, well even if there was you wouldn’t understand them as everyone talks in a made up, Arabic inspired gibberish (yes I listened to the directors commentary which is included in the next hen release) with absolutely no subtitles. This doesn’t seem to matter as you are still able to understand and appreciate the situation the brothers are currently in.
These situations are always well thought out which lends itself to be very intuitive on what is required from you to be able to progress along your journey.
The one aspect I thought was immensely clever was how the actions of the two brothers and in fact the differences between the two help progress the story and develop the characters rather than rely on animation alone. For example, trying to get past a certain elderly villager with the older brother will see you sent packing from whence you came, however approach them with the younger of the siblings and he is able to charm the elder purely though young person lovableness in the same way OAP’s will flock to a new born baby like moths to a flame.
The gameplay itself is also straight forward, utilising a two button, two stick control system which allows you to control both brothers at exactly the same time although this personally, causes brain meltdown as I often found myself walking in the wrong direction or round in circles as both hands wanted to do the same thing at the same time. However this is all you need to get around and solve any conundrums you face once you get your brain and hands on the same page.
Overall, Brothers is a hard one to sum up. If you played this title last gen, then effectively this is the same game apart from a fresh spray of polish. Granted you get the Directors commentary which gives some great insights to the game as well as an art gallery and soundtrack but whether this justifies a double dip at £3 more than last gen is debatable. However if you didn’t pick up Brothers in the past then the game alone and the first play experience is more than worth the new price point. Personally I fall into the latter category and say pick this up now.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 8/10 Format: Xbox One/PlayStation 4 Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of five days. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.