Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons Reviews

499,971 (282,420)
TA Score for this game: 1,100
Posted on 18 November 16 at 19:11
This review has 14 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Originally released for the 360 in 2013, Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons was ported over to the Xbox One two years later. In a world where HD Remasters, Ultimate Editions and Collections are the norm, is a straight port worth the purchase price?

After their mother drowns and their father becomes seriously ill, two brothers must embark on a quest to find a cure, overcoming various obstacles and threats along the way. Presented in a top down format, Brothers can best be described as a single player co-op game. The left stick and trigger controls Big Brother, the right ones Little Brother. Aside from using the bumpers to move the camera, which you'll rarely need to do, that's all you need to worry about. Jumping is done automatically and there is no combat in the traditional sense. Even though controlling two characters at once might initially seem like trying to pat your head and rub your belly, it works extremely well and feels very natural. The game is designed to be about the journey rather than punishing difficulty, so solutions are always close at hand and even if you do fail a checkpoint is never far away.

Presentation wise this is a very minimalist game with no HUD, map, tips or on screen pointers whatsoever. Dialogue is limited to a few spoken phrases in a mythical language, a mix of fictional words and Arabic, with no subtitles. The result of which is almost everything being conveyed in body language, yet despite this they manage to express more emotion and tell a better story than countless games I've played that were full of cutscenes and exposition.

One of the strongest aspects of Brothers is how it tells a story without telling a story. To explain, it makes clear their journey is just a tiny action in a much wider world. A village and its besieging army lie frozen in place, trolls toil away in underground caves, giants lay fallen on a battlefield, victims of some unknown conflict. There is no form of codex, lore or any attempt to explain these events in the game, so it's all left up to the player's imagination as to how these vents unfolded. Far from being lazy, you can see this was a very deliberate move by the developers, and adds to the intrigue surrounding the world they inhabit. An unexplained story is always preferable to a badly told one.

Whilst its aesthetics draw strongly from fairytales, Brothers is certainly not a game for children. The starting areas might seem bright and whimsical but the game quickly gets a lot darker, dealing with themes such as bereavement, hopelessness and suicide. Without spoilers, this culminates in what is genuinely one of the saddest endings I've ever seen in a video game.

In terms of extras you do get a bit of concept art and music on the One version, as well as a commentary video where the Developer points out a lot of little interactions I'd missed, and most of the achievements. On that subject they are quite odd in that there are no story related ones, so you could go through the game without popping a single one. They are all mini stories within the game, rewards for taking in the surroundings or deviating briefly from the main path, and fit perfectly with the overall tone. You can use a chapter select to go back to any missing ones, so it's a very easy completion. Total game length is around 3 hours which might seem short, but in actuality suits the story they are telling perfectly, allowing for constant variety. That being said, £14.99 is a bit too steep for a game of this nature, so you may be better off waiting for a sale.

Having been achievement hunting long enough I know full well that picking up something because it's an easy completion often means a big sacrifice in quality. But thankfully there are a few games that buck the trend and Brothers is very much at the forefront. It's a journey I'd highly recommend everyone should undertake.
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Hi Im Panther
82,144 (59,828)
Hi Im Panther
TA Score for this game: 1,100
Posted on 05 December 17 at 05:22
This review has 2 positive votes and 2 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game that I've been somewhat interested in playing for years, but never got around to actually completing until I picked it up in a sale.

I didn't know what to really expect when I started playing Brothers - in fact, I originally thought I ended up with a foreign copy since I had no clue the characters didn't speak English!

I 100% completed Brothers in about 3 hours, and my opinion on the game changed dramatically from start to finish. Originally I thought the game was bad - while I greatly enjoyed the art style, I wasn't particularly invested in the story, I thought the controls were terrible and the puzzles were extremely simple.

By the time I finished Brothers, however, most of my opinions had changed. Each chapter introduced a completely different environment, with (sometimes even radically!) different mechanics, and a slight ramping up in the difficulty of the puzzles. While nothing ever got too complicated to solve, I did find myself needing to concentrate at some parts. And as the story continued, I found myself more and more invested in the relationship between the two brothers. Their interactions and antics were both funny and adorable - you could tell that they cared about each other greatly. Even the smallest of details with how they combined to solve the puzzles in front of them showed it.

Unfortunately, I feel like Brothers has a few major flaws. The first one being something I noticed from the very beginning - the controls are terrible. Maybe I'm just uncoordinated, but from the first to the final second, I found myself struggling to properly control both brothers at the same time. I would always end up going the wrong direction or releasing the wrong trigger. And the second flaw is I had no clue what the hell was going on in the game other then the basic premise. Each location would be filled with more and more strange elements, and with zero explanation it just left me feeling confused.

In the end though, despite its few flaws, Brothers was a fantastic experience. I very rarely get affected by the games I play, but I found myself caring for both of the brothers and cheering them on as they continued on their journey through the world.
*** Spoiler - click to reveal ***

I think I absolutely got my money's worth ($5 on sale) out of it, and I would definitely recommend it to others. But because of its incredibly short length and especially the awkward controls, I would say to wait for a sale and try to pick it up at $5 or $10. I don't believe its value is greater then that.
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