Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is the kind of game that I might point someone to when I’m discussing the merits of games as a form of art. It is a game I might recommend for someone who comes to me with an extreme case of “shooter fatigue”. So what makes it stands out in these ways? Read on and I’ll be more than happy to tell you!
The story in Brother: A Tale of Two Sons is a time-tested classic. The brothers, whose names we do not know, set out right away on a mission to help their ailing father. There is a special elixir that will cure him, and the two of you are entrusted to retrieve it. That’s where the story, at least in the traditional sense, stops. You’re on this mission, and as with most games, many obstacles will do their best to stop you. Where Brothers is unique though, is in the way you see the relationship between the two brothers progress throughout the game. Even more impressive is that there is no voice acting in the game at all, and story telling is done with a mixture of emoting from the characters and more importantly, how they interact with their environment.
Speaking of the environment, one of the other major points that sets Brothers apart is it’s world. The environments in Brothers are simply breathtaking, from standing at the top of mountain peaks, to finding your way trough a cavernous lair, to exploring a forest of massive trees. Not only are the places you’ll go wonderful to look at, but as I mentioned before, the way the two bothers interact with those places is also quite special. If you walk up to a water well with the older brother, he’ll simply look down into the abyss, but walk up to the same well with the younger brother, and he’ll spit into the well, as a younger boy might be inclined to do. In general this is how you come to understand the differences in the two boys, by letting them each have their turn taking to people, messing with animals, or picking up objects. These differences become very important as the story in the game unfolds.
Probably the way in which Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons most stands out is in the way that it controls. As the player, you’ll be controlling both brothers simultaneously. The younger brother is controlled by the right analog stick, and the older brother by the left. Correspondingly, the brothers interact with their environment but using the same trigger as the analog stick you use to control their movement. Admittedly, this takes a solid 20-30 minutes to get used to, and if you don’t keep the brother on their respective sides of the screen, it is very easy for you to get a bit crisscrossed. I took what some might get frustrated with though, and made it more of a challenge. In doing so, I found that as long as I consciously thought of my right hand as one brother, and my left as the other, I could almost always keep the two separate. Also, I won’t spoil anything here, but just as seeing the differences in personality throughout the game will make the final scenes pay off all the more, the controls play a large part in conveying the significance of the ending. They do this in a way that is like no other game I’ve never played before, and it’s what makes the game something that anyone interested in getting something special out of a game should play.
Brother: A Tale of Two Sons is something truly special. It may be somewhat short or some, clocking in at roughly three hours depending on how much time you spend exploring, but considering the type of game Brothers is, I think the time suits it quite well. The controls, as I mentioned before, also take some getting used to, but pay off heavily in the end. The art style, from top to bottom, is gorgeous, and made me stop on more than one occasion to simply admire it. Brother may not be for everyone, what with so many qualifiers to its most important assets. But ultimately, Brothers is something I think every gamer should get a chance to experience.