Easter Eggs: Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons

By Marc Hollinshead, 2 years ago
Welcome to Easter Eggs, where the TA Team shines the spotlight on games that many gamers might have missed, perhaps hidden away behind the millionth copy of Call of Duty or FIFA. Much like a gamer who finds an Easter Egg hidden away in a game and proceeds to trumpet it from the highest hills and forums, the TA Team is going to be featuring these Easter Egg games on the front page for all to see.
In the games of today, we are saturated in dramatic tales full of violence, rivalry and intense combat. While we all love our fair share of fast paced gaming, sometimes we just want to sit in front of the TV and escape into an engrossing tale. When reading a novel, we feel connected to the characters and the story can take us out of our mundane lives and give us unique perspectives on aspects of life. This week's Easter Egg could be said to fit into this category as it goes against the conventional means of gaming. With no combat to be found and a hauntingly beautiful tale about family, we get Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons. A game that's all about working together to get past the biggest of obstacles as well as showing how important family is.

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The Basics

Brothers is essentially an adventure title with an emphasis on puzzle solving. You take control of two brothers, known simply as "Big Brother and "Little Brother" and your objective is to get both of them through obstacles to reach the next area. We discover at the very start of the game that the mother of these two characters perished through drowning and with their father now lying ill, it's up to the two of them to travel across the land to get the antidote to save their one remaining parent. As with many Easter Eggs I have personally written, it's hard to explain the "basics" of a title like this as many aspects about it are well and truly unique. The game is short and some may feel they aren't getting enough content for their money, but here we see why quality is more important than quantity. Would you rather experience a 20 hour title that leaves you feeling completely neutral about it, or a 4-5 hour one that moves you and leaves you thinking "Wow. Just...wow"? Read on and see if this is the one for you.

The Hook

From a gameplay perspective, the controls of Brothers are very different to what we're used to in the majority of the games we play. Throughout the journey you play as BOTH brothers at the same time. The shocking thing is just how well the game executes this mechanic without causing you to become confused and disoriented to the point of quitting altogether. Each brother is given half of the Xbox controller. While one is controlled with the left stick and left trigger, the other is controlled with the right stick and right trigger. You will need to get used to this from the get-go as you are immediately given control of both brothers when you begin. At first, it might be a bit tricky to get the hang of things, but you are eased into the gameplay through simple puzzles which then get harder as you progress. This may vary from a simple climbing puzzle where the big brother helps the little brother to reach the top all the way to navigating through possessed tree branches as the little brother while the big brother moves the tree trunk that he clings onto. It sounds complex, but it's actually extremely simple.

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Brothers somehow manages to make something so simple come together in such an elegant and artistic fashion. It's not just the controls being different; there is also no dialogue, or at least any dialogue that we can understand. The brothers occasionally communicate to each other through particular utterances, but the story unravels through the environment, body language and music throughout the game. Dialogue is not needed to grasp what is happening in this fairy-tale world. It's not explained why trolls inhabit the land or why the brothers find themselves in a desolate, mountainous area full of dead giants, yet everything feels like it's there for a reason and that it makes perfect sense to be there. With every environmental change as you reach another chapter, the village you began in really does eventually start to feel very far away. The spectacular main menu theme already hints at the adventure you're about to experience and the brothers themselves give off a huge emotional impact through their relationship with each other.

There is little to no replay value to be found in Brothers but the way it is crafted causes that to be forgivable. We are very much used to a story that starts at an equilibrium, a state of contentment, and then moves to a state of disequilibrium, chaos and disorder. Eventually that equilibrium is restored and everything is fine again. However, Brothers is unique in that it doesn't follow this pattern. It already starts off in a not-so content state and continues that trend with moments of happiness found scattered here and there. The brothers may sit on a bench and admire the view, a depressed man may rethink his ways through the brothers' actions or a simple hug may draw an immense feeling of happiness from the player. Without spoiling the ending, Brothers will show you the importance of family like no other game has.

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The Achievements

While having an extremely simple list, Brothers can in fact be played all the way through without acquiring a single achievement. All twelve of them require you to go off the beaten path and discover/do something in order for them to pop. They aren't hard at all, but they can be quite easy to miss. One will ask you to play nasty while another will require you to find a secret. Every chapter can be replayed from the main menu and because of the game's length, the achievements will be easy to attain for anyone who plays it. The list mirrors the game itself; simple yet complex.

The Stats

Just short of 10,700 TA'ers have joined the brothers on their adventure and 7,377 of those gamers have completed it. That makes for a massive 69.14% and the TA score is sitting at a miniature 452.

The community has given the game a combined rating of 4.2 and Metacritic ratings also favour it as it sits at 86.

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The Price

You will find Brothers on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace for £9.99/$14.99. While at first glance this may sound a bit pricey considering the game's length, many gamers would agree that it's worth the price. I personally bought it when it was on sale, so if you do ever see a price cut of any size, not snapping it up would be silly!

The Verdict

Brothers is a unique title because of the way it plays and the way in which the story is told. With the theme of family being the main focus, the story can so easily hit home with anyone who plays it. The gameplay certainly may feel awkward at first, but once you figure out the controls, it's a joy to play and watching the story unfold is extremely pleasurable. Many have described the game as "spellbinding", "touching", "beautiful" and "imaginative", and all would be correct. The developers took a risk with the dual-stick method, and in a world where we want epic battles and perfected voice acting, Brothers is executed remarkably well without any. In the short year it has been out, it's already started to fade and get overshadowed by the bigger titles in the industry, but anyone who wants something completely different with an undoubtedly moving story will find exactly what they're looking for in Brothers.

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If there's a game you'd like to see featured in Easter Eggs, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.