Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an incredibly emotional adventure about two brothers embarking on a journey to save their ill father. Throughout my playthrough, Brothers manage to evoke feelings of sorrow, anger, and joy without uttering a single understandable word. Even more impressive, was how it manages to do so much in such a short time.
This isn't a long game by any means, but I've (mostly) enjoyed every minute of the 4 hours I spent with it. I really appreciate developer Starbreeze Studios approach to how the story is told. Characters in the game speak gibberish instead of English, which left me paying close attention to the world around me. Instead of listening to characters talk, I watched body language and hand/arm signals. I had to gather information by examining and interacting the game world.
Their journey takes you to some pretty gorgeous environments. I was continually amazed by how Brothers managed to transition into each of these places so smoothly. The interconnection of the world was stunning. At one point, I was running around in a village full of people and two hours later I traveled into a battlefield with rivers of blood. Brothers continually keeps the world interesting by presenting a variety of immersive environments.
Something this game doesn't do so well are the controls. Each stick and its respective trigger controls one of the brothers. This concept was pretty interesting initially but quickly started to cause more confusion than anything else. When the brothers switch sides on the screen, controls would become even more frustrating. Eventually I got used to it but I still suffered plenty of deaths simply trying to battle the controls.
Puzzles require you to use each brothers strengths in order to proceed. The older brother is stronger and taller than his younger brother. Some puzzles may require you to use that strength to hold something up, pull a lever, or other things the younger brother physically can't do. On the other hand the younger brother is smaller and more agile than the older one. This can be used to fit into small holes or squeeze through bars. The puzzles aren't too challenging and most of them I breezed through but there are a few that stumped me for a while.
It's the smaller things in Brothers that really stood out. There are plenty of things in the world to interact with, but most are completely optional. Early in the game, there is a kid playing with a basketball. You can keep walking and not interact with the kid or you can take his basketball and throw it down the well.
In another instance later in the game there is a crying mother turtle. You can find her babies if you want to or keep moving on to your destination. Moments like these are everywhere in the game and they don't award you experience points or anything of the sort. These are just simple, but meaningful interactions that you can have with the world.
The game also does a superb job of making these two characters feel like actually brothers. As I progressed in the game the personalities of these two characters began to show. The older brother was always protective of his younger brother, while the younger brother liked to make fun of his older brother and approached everything they did with a playful attitude. Simple things I did in the game such as skip pebbles across a pond or take a break and sit on a bench to enjoy the view, really cemented the feeling of brotherhood.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a remarkable game. Even with the frustrating controls, Starbreeze Studios has managed to craft a superb puzzle-adventure game with mature themes, while still capturing those crucial moments that makes the relationship between two young brothers special.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09