At this year's E3, I stopped by the 505 Games room to see Payday 2. Tucked on the side were two setups for a game called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. While I was waiting to play Payday 2, there was a big commotion as famous developer, Peter Molyneux, and his crew made their way in. He went straight for Brothers, played it for a bit, then left...smiling. After playing through Brothers, I get while he was smiling.
Brothers is part of the Xbox Live’s “Summer of Arcade,” and focuses on two brothers. They don’t have names nor speak any recognizable language, but they’re on a journey to save their father who has become ill. Their journey will take them from simple villages to magical lands to create a game that surpasses any fairy tale you may have heard as a child.
A Fairy Tale Story - Sometimes the greatest stories are the simplest ones. Brothers doesn’t give you a backstory, exposition, or even names for the characters. Hell, the characters speak in an unintelligible language that’s not translated for you. Yet it doesn’t matter because the story plays out beautifully. You start off only knowing that the brothers’ father is dying, and they need to find the item that will save him. From there you follow these two brothers who go from a simple town to a land filled with magical creatures. It’s so charming at first, but halfway through the game, the story become a little darker and proceeds to suck you into this story about two brothers. I experienced so many different emotions throughout the game although there wasn’t a single word that I understood.
1 Player Co-Op - Where Brothers is truly unique is that you have one brother assigned to the left stick and the other assigned to the right making the game feel like a single player co-op game. As you'd expect, this takes a while to get used to, but thankfully, aside, from moving a character with one analog stick, the only other button to worry about is the right/left trigger to interact.
As you make your way through the world, you'll have to use both brothers to figure out various obstacles. Some obstacles require both brothers to move something at the same time while others require the smaller brother to squeeze between bars to reach a switch or have the older brother carry around a heavy item. Then there’s instances where one brother will have to distract an enemy while the other brother is working on something else. In the end, the controls are simple and unique yet make you form a bond with the brothers.
Fairy Tale Landscape - I love how Brothers looks. It looks like a fairy tale. The village you enter has a cute, colorful style while later in the game the lands become gloomy to convey that something evil is near. One area in particular has these dead giants whose bodies are laid out in various poses. Seeing these giant corpses draped across these rocks as their blood turns a mountain stream red is a magical sight to see. The game looks beautiful and magical like a fairy tale game should be.
NOT COOL BRO
A Short Tale - With the lack of hard puzzles and difficult enemies, Brothers is a fairly short game that can be finished in about 4 hours. Don't get me wrong, it wraps up well, but this is one of those cases where you feel there could have been more. Or it could be that it was so good that wanted it to be longer.
If there was some other piece of media I could compare Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons to it would be The Princess Bride. Prior to me watching that movie for the first time, I knew about fairy tales, but seeing one unfold before me was mesmerizing. I felt the same way with Brothers. I've played a lot of fantasy games, but I never thought that I was playing a fairy tale. It's a truly magical game that all I wanted was for it to last a little longer. This is one of those games that you owe it to yourself to play.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.