If you look at this game, don’t judge it by its cover, because you will underestimate it just as much as i did! And please believe me, you WILL underestimate this game by a lot!
Like a complex fantasy novel “Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons” needs a bit of time to get you warmed up. The graphics don’t look like much at first and the control scheme is something you really have to get used to. Each of the eponymous “brothers” whose names are not detailed any further throughout the game is controlled by one of your controllers thumb-sticks. You can also chose to control this game via keyboard, but things might get rather awkward when you try to handle directions of both brothers simultaneously while still keeping two buttons pressed for grabbing and holding to ledges. Once you get a hold of a game pad and a grasp of the general game mechanics you will soon find yourself deeply immersed.
And it’s this kind of simplicity in the controls which keeps growing on you: as soon as you start solving the first (rather easy) riddles in the game you will learn the ropes of coordinating the brothers. You start with simple tasks like dragging a cart down a slope, with each brother holding it at one end. But things soon get interesting as you start to control various contraptions, steer through boats, solve climbing tasks or piggyback through deep rivers as the younger of the two brothers is apparently very afraid of water. It’s those moments where the game starts to unfold its characters, their relations and the meaning of real teamwork. But to explain that aspect we have to take a step back and look at the setting of this very special game.
Speak, friend, and you shall feel!
The other thing that also appears rather odd to you at first is the way the story is unfolded. You start the adventure following the younger brother, mourning over the loss of his mother, which also explains his deep fear of water. And if that wouldn’t be rather unconventional story to begin a game with, the events make a turn for the worse as the boy’s father also has gotten deeply ill. This dramatic start (and all of the ongoing story) is completely conveyed using the game’s fake gibberish-language which may strike you as very oddly at first, but really fits the theme of the game at second glance. Soon you realize that this is a choice of style where characters are merely templates which your mind fills up pretty quickly. You will hear names and call-outs and start to associate words with their real world counterparts – which almost feels like learning a new language in the progress. You will see beautiful landscapes so well designed that you cannot help but be reminded of fantasy movies like “Lord of the Rings”. You will also meet a variety of memorable characters, which – friends and foes alike – will leave an impression on you, how small it may be.
With the dialogue and controls so seemingly limited at first glance you will also soon realize how well this form of communication actually manages to convey a vast variety of emotions. The game starts so grimly, but continues with a lighthearted, almost childish sense of humor, just to quickly venture into emotional depths far beyond to what you are used from other games: cheerfulness, compassion, curiosity, envy, hatred and deep sorrow switch places so quickly that you can nothing but ask yourself why other games have yet failed to convey things so rich and at this level. “Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons” is a short experience – few hours short actually. But like a good book you will find yourself constantly turning pages, playing the session in almost one go, genuinely interested about what’s to happen next. And like a good fantasy novel is ought to be, the beautiful settings make a huge part of your journey.
In terms of graphics you also might find this game simple-knitted at first, with only few polygons to look at and a rather stereotype fantasy-like look to it. Even the animations, though well done in their facial expressions, are nothing special by themselves. But as soon as you start venturing deeper into the world you will find deep caverns, majestic forests and cliffs and frozen wastelands, all packed within those few hours of gameplay and all inviting you to sit down on one of many benches just to have a look at a post-card-like sceneries.
And soon enough you realize that even two main characters even start to convey their emotions and character with a specific body language, giving you a distinct feeling for each brother and further deepening your bonds as a player with each one of them. And the further you venture ahead, the more you realize how well-crafted all details of this world really are. There are so many small moments where “Brothers” fires a whole barrage of emotions at you, striking you with awe at all the things to behold.
And before you realize what is actually really going on , the game has already dragged you into its deeply immersive world. A place where you actually care for the fate of the two brothers, wanting to help them on their perilous journey to save their terminally ill father. It all simply flows together into the brand of entertainment that great books are made of! And comparing this game with a novel is not even far from the truth because the gameplay elements are rather limited, making this more like an interactive novel than a real game or even an adventure in the classical “point n’ click” kind of sense. This also is my main gripe with the game could be off-putting to many avid gamers expecting their games to be more interactive. But rest assured that this point gets absolutely meaningless when taken in relation to the compelling storyline and well-crafted world.
This game you will barely stop or even pause playing until the very end. Do yourself a favor, get it as soon as possible and try to disagree with me after you have seen the end.