It’s the combination of a March PlayStation Plus update and a recent BAFTA win for game innovation of the year 2014 that has brought 2013’s Brothers: Tale of Two Sons to my attention once more. Originally released in August of last year, this fantasy tale was dubbed “the best artsy platforming/puzzle game since Journey”.
The game tells the story of two brothers who, having recently lost their mother, now face losing their father too. Told that the only way to save their remaining parent is to collect water from the tree of life, the sibling pair embark on an epic journey across mountains, unknown lands filled with trolls and even a giants battlefield.
So the boys are off on their adventure, an adventure that will see them partake in some light platforming and a lot of logic puzzle-solving together in order to accomplish their goal and save their father. On the surface this game reads like any number of games available to download in it’s price range but it does have one hidden gem, the reason for that BAFTA win I mentioned earlier, the single controller co-op style play.
Controlling two characters at the same time on one controller you say? Sounds annoyingly complicated doesn’t it? Well it can be at first but once you’ve mastered the controls they become second nature as you play through the story. For a game of this genre with the added two character/one player mix, the controls could have been a nightmare but they’re not, they’re incredibly simplistic. The left stick and L2/LT control the older brother, while the right stick and R2/RT control the younger brother. Those are literally the only buttons used, everything you need to do is activated by either of the trigger buttons depending on the brother you need to use, while you aren’t using a ton of buttons, you can still do a lot.
Graphically this game is overkill for it’s genre, don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining but some of the amazing scenery seems to go to waste as the player is busy problem-solving. Particular scenes stick out as being exceptionally impressive, one being when you enter the giants battlefield. The detail on the giants is something to admire and walking through the blood soaked land really does allow the player to soak up the atmosphere of death and peril. The game runs smoothly throughout, though this is unsurprising given it was built using the Unreal Engine, something tried and tested by everyone from games developers and movie companies through to NASA.
The soundtrack has high points and low, anyone that has read a review of mine before knows I’m a big fan of high quality voice-over work but sadly this game has none. The fictional Japanese style language spoken by the characters can be annoying and it can make the story a little more difficult to follow. That said, the musical soundtrack is perfect and compliments both the visuals and the story to add an extra layer of atmosphere to the game.
Where this game is significantly let down is in the story. Though a interesting premise and some well told storytelling during, the pace of the game can be dull at times and many gamers will lose interest early on. The other main issue with this game is the distinct lack of any real danger, it’s incredibly easy and at no point during the game will you feel like you’re going to spend hours stuck on a particularly difficult problem. Many gamers may argue that a game of this genre doesn’t need the peril to be a good game but it seems unrealistic to believe that a fantasy journey of this nature would not be full of danger, puzzle game or not, and this hinders the otherwise good storytelling. In addition the story is short, really short. 3-5 hours will see you play the game from start to end and besides admiring the beauty of the game there isn’t a great deal of replayability at offer.
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Lack of understandable dialog
The story is very slow in pace
The review copy of this title was purchased by the author