Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons offers more than just an adventure


Brothers: A tale of Two Sons game screen shot

Brothers: A tale of Two Sons game screen shot
Brothers: A tale of Two Sons game screen shot

At first glance, “Brothers” looks like a simple Puzzle/Adventure game. Developed by Starbreeze, the previous company that brought Syndicate and The Darkness, it’s not something that you’d expect from the company. While their previous entries were harsh and difficult, Brothers brings in a fresh, new, airy, heartfelt perspective. Inspired by the old ‘top-down’ games from the olden days, Brothers operates with beautiful efficiency in every aspect. Guiding you through a striking storybook landscape in which gameplay and story wind together more tightly than most games can manage. The result is something that took the complete devotion of the game, just to create that single, specific tone and atmosphere that, more than likely, will force you to continue playing until you’ve seen the end.

The story is a simple one, yet it integrates so perfectly with the game play that it’s shocking. It starts off with the brothers being informed of their father being sick and that he can only be cured with a special liquid located in a mountain far away. Once informed, the brothers set off to find the life-restoring liquid. However, we are treated to a flash back informing us about how the younger brother witnessed the death of their mother, who drowned trying to save them, which caused him to grow a fear of water.

The game play has a unique control scheme. You use both analog sticks, one for both of the brothers. You move each brother with one of the analog sticks, and perform a single context-sensitive action with each respective trigger. Brothers is a puzzle driven adventure game, but it isn’t a game about brainteasers. The solutions are more than obvious, however, the challenge comes form being able to manage both brothers at the same time, but even then, it isn’t that difficult. However, the main point of the game isn’t the puzzles, it’s more about the emotional context of your every move, and you won’t be able to play for long if you don’t do that.

The simple story has two brothers traveling around the mystical land in search of the medicine. The characters also speak in a made-up language, which makes it easy to get caught up to the individual personalities of each brother, and how their respective personalities are needed in order to support each other and move on.

Given the economy of its pacing and storytelling, Brothers is another of what I’ve come to think of as single-sitting games. Similar to short, emotionally charged experiences like Journey and Gone Home, Brothers isn’t especially long but packs such meaning and quality into each scene that it never feels like it’s wasting or padding out a single minute. Like those other games, it’s designed to follow a specific narrative trajectory, and build up a certain emotional pitch, such that you’d get the most out of it by absorbing it holistically from start to finish. And this is coming from someone who never, ever marathons their way through video games.

Brothers isn’t necessarily an uplifting game; to compare it to a fairytale is to evoke the original meaning of that term, the one designed to scare small children. Some grim things occur in the course of the brothers’ quest. But the brothers’ commitment to their goal and to each other is so strong, the various parts of this game so superbly crafted and woven together, that it’s hard not to feel deeply touched when you finally reach the end of the road and see how deftly this game marries its gameplay to its themes in a way few have before. If you’re the sort of person who thinks video games are capable of not just entertaining us but also making us think and feel, you owe it to yourself to play Brothers.