Brothers: A Tale or Two Sons, henceforth Brothers, is a linear, story driven adventure / puzzle game with some absolutely mind bending mechanics.
We follow the story of two brothers (shocking I know) who are on a quest across a fantasy setting to find medicine for their sick father. The hard part, you ask? The brothers are controlled independently and simultaneously.
Now when I say that the controls are difficult to handle, I don’t mean that in a bad way. As a matter of fact, I think that the controls are extremely innovative and are actually quite fun to get your head around. Imagine the controller is split in half, with each analog stick handling the character movement and triggers controlling the use and grab functionality. Essentially, it’s an incredibly innovative approach to a local multiplayer control scheme. In a single player environment it’s an utter head screw.
I’d say I’m normally pretty coordinated, but the first fifteen minutes of gameplay were heavily focused on getting the characters out the bushes they had been running into for a solid 30 seconds. In this regard though, the game is quite forgiving in that whilst one character is being controlled, there is normally somewhere to leave the other idle as not to overload your focus. However, as aforementioned, once you’ve gotten your head around the control scheme it can be really enjoyable to work with.
Furthermore, for a game that utilises an entirely gibberish language, the story is incredibly compelling. I found myself increasingly involved with the characters and the relationship between the brothers as the game progressed. Without giving too much away, there were moments where I sat back in complete awe from what I had witnessed. However, bearing these points in mind, I feel as though there is so much more the game could have accomplished.
From more of an audio stand point, I felt that the music was sadly lacking in areas. The compositional theme is formed of close orchestral strings, acoustic guitar and some wacky vocals, which for me didn't really fit as well as I'd hoped it would. There is a definite sense of adventure and fantasy from the music but it almost seems a little too over the top. For instance, there is a lot of reverb which seems unnecessary and frankly the guitar can be quite overpowering. Whilst the game suffered in terms of music, it made up for in sound design. There is a very strong focus on atmosphere and environment in Brothers which is suitably matched in the sound design. The soundscapes are enough to fully immerse you, either with wind, spatialisation or with the event sound effects on their own. Each plays a part in building the overall sonic experience.
Normally I like a little more challenge from my puzzle games, which I didn't really get from Brothers. Whilst there is a good variety of puzzle mechanics, it needs to be said that it wasn't that hard to get my head around them. There were some moments where I would initially be pretty confused by them, but never for more than five minutes or so. This being said, Brothers is definitely a game more focused on the journey than the challenges you come across on the way, what with its scenic benches, which trigger some pretty amazing views, and a well thought out and nurtured level design. Yet, returning to the previous point, a little more challenge would make this game truly excellent.
With that being said it's great to approach this game with an open mind, especially considering it came out in 2013 for the last gen. Get yourself up to speed with the controls and have a great time getting sucked into the story and world.