Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
by Garon Cockrell
Video Game Review: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
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Sept. 27, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade (reviewed), Playstation Network, and PC

Iíd have thought you crazy if you were to tell me that the

same studio responsible for The Darkness and

Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from

Butcher Bay
was going to make a game that would affect me emotionally more

than any other game released this year. Brothers:

A Tale of Two Sons
is, as I mentioned on this episode of my podcast, is

one of those ďindie darlingĒ games that gets the press all abuzz. After finishing

it, if it asked me to put $5.75 in my pocket, grasp a cup of Kool-Aid in hand,

and put white Nike Decades on, Iíd do so without much second guessing.<>

Brothers is

journey of two brothers on a quest to get a cure for their fatherís mysterious

ailment. While the premise seems like itís been done before, you find yourself

in a different situation than youíd think youíd end up. The brothers donít take

up arms to defend themselves and slay any evil that gets in their way. Instead,

they do what most young boys would do Ė head out with only their wits and one

another to depend on. Itís a fairly simple distinction from other games of its

ilk, but itís something that truly sets it apart.<>

Having nothing to rely on but one another, the two brothers

head out on their journey for a cure for their father. Making their way out the

village, youíre given more time to acclimate yourself with the control scheme.

You control the older brother with left stick and the younger brother with the

right stick. Now you might be thinking how difficult it would be to make the

brothers do anything, given that your thumbs are occupied by controlling their

movements. The simple, and slightly brilliant, workaround is that the

corresponding triggers handle all of the interactions the brothers have.


While the control scheme is simple, itís something that does

take some adjustment to an otherwise-conditioned brain. When it syncs up, the

choice to go this route is marvelous, although just how often that actually

happens is likely to vary considerably from person to person. There are some

people that it just clicks for, and once it does, they never have an issue with

it again. I fall into the category of it working for a time, realizing that itís

working, trying to concentrate on it as to not break the flow, only to have

just that happen. It was only a slight a hindrance for me as Brothers never really requires any sort

of dexterous thumb work.<>

Any of the puzzles in the game that impede your progress are

fairly simple and will rarely take more than a few minutes to figure out. Thereís

also not an overabundance of them, making the ones that are there fit smoothly

into the world. They also never really stick to one particular thing for very

long, introducing you to one type of mechanic and then moving on well before it

wears out its welcome. A favorite of mine involved something resembling a

gigantic hamster wheel, which seemed absurd for a moment until I thought about

why itís there and what purpose it would serve. Little things like that help

sell the realism of a world that looks and feels like a fairytale come to life,

similar to Fable (sans the chicken

kicking and the rampant flatulence humor that Fable is known for).


Both the whimsical sense of wonder and the sometimes darker

narratives of those fairytales are present throughout your journey. Never

having a decipherable language in Brothers

adds to that feeling as you use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

Thereís some amazing setpieces that the two brothers donít themselves understand,

making you feel more a part of their journey than you might otherwise. I was

left dying to know just what was going on in many of the areas, but you move so

briskly from area to area, that you never really get the chance to ponder too

long on any one scene.<>

Itís a short journey through, taking around three hours if

you donít spend any time exploring as you go. Those that spend the time to poke

their noses around, something I highly recommend,

will find the most rewarding experience Brothers

can offer. While none of the sidetracking affects the gameís outcome, the more

you explore, the more of the enriched youíre going to find your time spent in

the game. Interacting with things with each brother separately will often net

you a different result. One of my favorite moments is coming across a house

with a harp on the porch. Interact with the younger brother and you find that

you might have a musical protťgť attached to your right stick, while you find

the older isnít anywhere near as competent with the instrument. The villager

sitting in front of the harp will also react differently to each brotherís

attempt at playing it.


Such wonderful little experiences like that are a testament

as to just how much care was given to the single button interactions. There are

a few moments in the game that made me realize just how much weight is given to

this simple mechanic, one nearly bringing me to tears and another, after

realizing its use, bringing such a sense of elation that it nearly brought me

to tears again (or Iím just a big sissy). <>

Brothers is one of

those games that has people buzzing about it for good reason. With a truly

unique control scheme, a beautiful aesthetic, and one of few stories that ever

brought about real emotion for me, youíd be fairly foolish to not play it. The

moments when the control scheme might not work for you can be a bit

frustrating, but even falling on the extreme side of the negative of it, it

never hindered my love for the tale it was telling or my desire to see

everything the world had to offer me.


9 out of 10 silently crying game reviewers

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