Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review
Initial NA Release Date: August 7, 2013
Review Date: June 10, 2017
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, PC, iOS, Android, Windows Phone
An interesting take on the puzzle-platforming genre—Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has a unique feel to it, as it utilizes a different mechanical approach to both vertical and horizontal platforming. A narrative that manages to articulate itself without the use of a coherent language, the journey of two brothers is one that emerges much deeper than initially expected.
Presentation – Visually, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is both a hit and a miss. The game’s 3-D foreground is somewhat generic looking, and character models are not too impressive, however, their overall aesthetic and animation does blend well with the game’s surroundings and compliments the all-around mood.
Where the game really hits its mark is with the ever-changing gorgeous backgrounds it showcases throughout the two brothers’ journey. The painting-like backdrops seen during platforming sections such as climbing up sky-high castles, traversing through frozen waters, and running across bridges at nightfall, all aid in making those moments all the more memorable.
The soundtrack in the game has a nice ambiance as a whole, however, there are frequent instances when there is simply no sound aside from the two brothers traversing or signaling to each other, which, while it sometimes aids in focusing on the event at hand, also sheds light on the more desolate areas in the game.
Gameplay – As innovative as it may be, the mechanical implementation of controlling each brother with a different analog stick becomes quite cumbersome, and by the time the adjustment is made with regards to becoming comfortable with the execution of the platforming, the game is well on its way to being over.
However, despite the inconvenient control scheme, platforming sections are fluid and interesting along with puzzle sections being fairly straightforward consequently providing a good pace to the different sections. One of the more impressive aspects of the game has to do with the seamless transitions of well-timed set pieces that go straight into exploration, puzzle solving, and platforming sequences.
The other aspect of well thought out teamwork between the two brothers adds depth to the overall gameplay, as each brother excels at certain tasks, making cooperation essential and also quite satisfying considering the hurdle of the controls. However, where the game runs into most of its issues is with the sporadic encounters of invisible walls, which, on occasion break the game, resulting in restarting the section.
Despite the dialog not being in a comprehensible language, the main plot of the game of attaining medicine for the brothers’ sick father was not a difficult one to understand. However, where the game really shows its depth from a narrative standpoint, is with hard-hitting and heartfelt side stories and somewhat forgotten tales which, despite not being told in words, can be put together simply with symbolism and reason.
The most impressive aspect of both the main narrative and the side acts is the depiction of realism with regards to how certain unpopular outcomes are dealt with, learned from, and sometimes even paid tribute to. While it may not be on the surface level, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons offers some thought provoking ideas, and due to the unidentifiable dialog, it leaves room for a great deal of possibilities that may shape the narrative.
Final Impression – There is something to be said about how unapologetic Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is. Everything from how the game is played mechanically, how the game’s narrative is portrayed, to what it meant to convey at its finish. The game tells the story, it wanted to tell, and tells it how it wanted it to be told, be it an unpopular or popular choice.
While mechanically the control scheme is cumbersome it does have a symbolic attachment to the narrative. The few downfalls of the game have to do with the occasional invisible walls, and the sometimes-prolonged silent sequences. The transition of timely set pieces to fluid and fun puzzle-platforming is excellent, and along with some interesting side stories, the journey is one accompanied by outstanding backdrops, which is later all capped with quite the memorable finish.
+ Fun puzzle-platforming
+ Gorgeous backdrops
+ Profound narrative
– Cumbersome controls
– Invisible walls
Final Score – 7.9/10 Good
Complete playthrough of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ran just a little 2 ½ hours.