Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons (Game)

Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons is an unexpected title that was developed by Starbreeze Studios AR, who're best known for their work on Payday: The HeistPayday 2SyndicateThe Darkness and The Chronicles of Riddick - Escape from Butcher Bay; needless to say, their library of releases consist mostly of shooter style games. Instead, Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons is an emotional novella game that involves puzzles and platforming. How well does this style anomaly fit into the Starbreeze Studios AR catalog?

Genre: Action, Adventure
Developer: Starbreeze Studios AR
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: August 7th, 2013
Play Time: 3-4 Hours
Price: $14.99 USD
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

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Rating: 7.5/10







Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons is an unexpected title that was developed by Starbreeze Studios AR, who're best known for their work on Payday: The Heist, Payday 2, Syndicate, The Darkness and The Chronicles of Riddick - Escape from Butcher Bay; needless to say, their library of releases consist mostly of shooter style games. Instead, Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons is an emotional novella game that involves puzzles and platforming. How well does this style anomaly fit into the Starbreeze Studios AR catalog?

Rather than feeling like a typical puzzle platforming game, Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons comes off as more of a short story. Even though the player is constantly interacting with the two brothers and the cutscenes are kept to a minimum it is ultimately the way that the gamer will progress through the story and the way that the story is told with an abundance of emotion that gives the game this raw impassioned sensitivity. The actual puzzles and platforming elements in the gameplay aren't very complex and ultimately leads to an extremely brief experience for the audience. For both of the fundamental cores of the game the player will utilize both the younger brother and older brother, both who have varying strengths and weaknesses, to overcome a variety of minimal challenges; whether it be swimming since the younger brother is afraid to swim, to the buddy boost to get to higher ledges and even synchronized lever mechanics.


The plot synopsis is based around the two brother's father, who has fallen severely ill and is in need of a cure. The only problem is that the cure is in a far away land, so he sends his two sons to retrieve the medication. From that point on the player will journey from the brothers' home village through mountains, into snowy tundras, to the land of giants and more all along the course of six chapters. Each environment is vibrantly detailed with striking pastel color schemes. The characters themselves are not highly detailed and they look like they were made out of clay, but this aspect makes them stand out against the complex landscapes. It should be said also that the brothers, and everyone else that the gamer will interact with, speak gibberish; or what some like to call "Sim-Speak". This is another element that causes the player to grow closer emotionally to the two main characters, as their actions and the way that they speak must be paid more attention to to understand how they're feeling; although in most cases it's pretty clear. Further, the game itself has a sparse soundtrack, melodies are only triggered for brief moments during key times and the rest is left to a gentle ambiance; this is one area that could be improved upon, as the ambiance even fades overtime in areas of the game.

The controls are probably the most unique aspect in Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons and is probably what will frustrate most players initially. Each brother is controlled by one analog stick and one trigger button; the older brother is controlled by the left thumb-stick (movement) and left trigger (action) while the younger brother is controlled with the right thumb-stick and right trigger. Virtually no other button is used other than the start button for the menu. Controlling one character in a 3D environment presents its set of challenges however with a bit of patience and a short learning curve the gamer will find themselves controlling both characters at once without thinking much about it. The controls are the only feature that cause any puzzles and platforming encountered to be complicated, and even then when the rhythm is gotten down correctly these complexities dissipate. The same can also be stated for the couple of effortless boss battles.


Overall Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons is a decent title, well worth at least one playthrough. The game is excruciatingly linear and there is little to no benefit, nor many opportunities, as far as exploration goes. This aspect, along with the simple puzzles and platforming lets the game be completed within three to four hours; my playthrough while obtaining all achievements clocked in at 3.6 hours. The story is full of emotion and the characters can pull you in with their interactions with each other and the way they help one another, however given the length of the game the attachment felt to the brothers is only fleeting and any events that occur aren't deeply impacting. For the asking price of $14.99 USD it would be recommended to wait until the game goes on sale due to the short nature of the content; I believe I picked up my copy for $5.00 or $7.00 USD.

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