There have been a number of Xbox LIVE Arcade games that have impressed me, through this platform I have discovered games such as Dust: an Elysian Tale and From Dust. Now once again I have been captivated by this latest title, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
The plot centers around two brothers who have recently lost their mother in a tragic boating accident and are now in danger of losing their father as well. Faced with the helplessness of watching their deathly ill father fade away, the boys decide that there is nothing for it but to embark upon an epic adventure to find The Water of Life to bring him back from Death’s door.
The player controls both brothers, using the left side of the controller for the older brother and the right side of the controller for the younger brother. Although this starts off as being slightly confusing (I often had the two brothers going off in the wrong direction), you quickly get the hang of it and before long you’re enjoying this unique playing style.
The basic idea of the game is to get the two brothers working together to solve problems and complete their journey to find the Water of Life. You do this by solving problems and through the interaction of the two boys with each other, with non-playable characters and with their environment. While this may sound easy, it isn’t, because each brother approaches everything differently and the NPC’s react differently to each one. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy solving the problems which achieves a fantastic synergy between the brothers. Completing the puzzles and progressing through the environment is a very gratifying experience.
Brothers was developed using the Unreal Engine 3, this means that the control of the characters is smooth and becomes very comfortable after a short period of time. It also means that the scenery and game environment is breathtakingly beautiful. In fact, there are a number of benches dotted throughout the game with which you can interact and then gaze out at the scenery. I’ve always enjoyed games that are beautiful to play and Brothers is one of the best that I have seen – I thought the game very reminiscent of Fable 3 which is known for its superior graphics.
Brothers features an auto-save function that saves at very useful points throughout the game. There are a few places where one of the brothers may die (falling off a cliff, being squashed by a giant, or savaged by a hungry wolf) and the game will then load from a checkpoint that is close enough to the point where you die for it not to become frustrating
There are not many achievements and, quite frankly, the achievements are puzzles in themselves. Even the description of the achievements is cryptic enough to challenge most gamers and I had fun trying to figure them out. Read them all before you play, however, as I know that I missed a few which I’ll have to get on the second run through of the game.
I can honestly find no fault with Brothers. The developers have presented us with a fantastic game that, as far as I can tell, is bug free and lacking in the kind of frustrations that are common in other games. The only possible complaint that I may have is that the game is a bit linear, your path is predetermined and there is no point (apart from going to sit on the benches and admire the scenery) to straying off the path.
I highly recommend Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons to all gamers. Although it’s priced at 1200 Microsoft Points and is therefore one of the more expensive Arcade titles, it’s well worth it. If we as gamers want the smaller studios to continue to create these impressive titles, we should be willing to spend that little bit more on them. Brothers is a fun, aesthetically pleasing, and challenging dual control game that is fun for the whole family and one that wouldn’t look out of place in any gamers’ collection. Personally I am going to keep an eye on this studio and treat myself to other games that they present.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was reviewed on the Xbox 360.