I remember being coerced into buying Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons when it initially released on the Xbox 360 amid the fanfare from my fellow gamers. For now, let’s just say that I didn’t regret it and seeing as it has just been released on the current generation consoles including Xbox One, I get to re-live it all over again. Will it be as enjoyable as it once was or has the magic worn off this time around?
Well, it’s a bit of both.
Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons brings with it a story of two brothers, Naia and Naiee, whom are taking their dying father for some much needed medical attention and are subsequently sent on an adventurous quest across the land to find a cure. This isn’t just a journey in the regular sense of the word though but also an emotional journey where the brothers will bond and help each other overcome their own fears. What’s even more impressive is that it’s all done without using an official language of any kind!
In almost homage to the brothers, your hands will need to create a bond too as you get to grips with the rather simple, yet actually difficult to adapt to, controls. You’ll control the older brother and interact with him via the left analog stick and trigger on controller, whereas the younger brother will use the same buttons but on the right hand side. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? I can assure you it takes a while to get to grips with it and get in sync with your own hands, especially when your manoeuvring skills are tested as you progress through the game. That being said, this unique way of controlling the two of them is an ongoing challenge which helps make the whole journey just a little more enjoyable.
The journey takes the brothers through a beautiful world filled with obstacles, puzzles and enemies to overcome. Sometimes you’ll need to use the brothers in tandem to move a pipe around or to swing each other from ledge to ledge. This requires a hell of a lot of coordination; the amount of times I released the wrong trigger and sent one of the poor chaps to their demise was beyond belief, even during my second playthrough. On other occasions you’ll have to separate them momentarily to do things like luring angry trolls or dogs away to overt danger.
Exploration is clearly the main focus throughout, not just to find ways to solve a puzzle but also for side activities that usually offer an achievement for your troubles. I say activities, when in reality it could be as simple as blowing a horn or chucking pebbles across a river. You generally won’t discover such things without being fully committed to exploring and I’d highly recommend you have a good wander.
Visually it’s rather pretty in all the different environments you travel through, with the perfectly placed park benches being ideal to sit down on and gaze into the distance. The locations are another great part of Brothers with the traversing across forests, swimming in rivers, climbing up a castle and even navigating your way through a battlefield of downed giants.
Now, here’s the bad news. I have to be honest… it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable the second time playing Brothers because all the great landscapes had been seen before and the puzzles are easy once you’ve done them once. To add to my troubles, I had a few issues with glitches that forced me into restarting entire chapters to fix the problem of cutscenes not occurring, thus it wouldn’t allow me to progress until they worked.
Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons constantly brings new elements to the table across the seven chapters to keep things fresh and over time exposes each brother’s strengths, weakness and how they need each other to get through the whole ordeal. Being able to convey a story that gets pretty emotional using only gestures and body language is a real achievement for the developers Starbreeze Studios.
What’s new? Not an awful lot, just a bit of concept art, music to listen to from the soundtrack and maybe the most interesting extra – a director’s commentary video going over parts of the entire game, giving a pretty cool insight after you’ve completed it. There’s nothing worth shelling out for Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons for a second time though, however first timers you should be all over this. It’s a wonderful experience to behold.