"From the moment you feast your eyes and ears on the haunting Scandinavian-influenced music and fairy tale visuals, you'll know you’re in for a rare treat."
Starbreeze Studios, generally known for their Chronicles of Riddick and The Darkness games, have teamed up with visionary Swedish film-director Josef Fares (Zozo 2005) to bring us an emotional tale of two brothers in search of the “Water of Life” to save their dying father. From the moment you feast your eyes and ears on the haunting Scandinavian-influenced music and fairy tale visuals, you'll know you’re in for a rare treat. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons will be talked about months from now as being one of the finest indie titles of the past few years. Whether you consider video games to be art or not, Brothers is so masterfully composed in its aesthetics, audio, and gameplay mechanics…it’s hard not to appreciate it as an art form.
"Each brother has a different set of characteristics that require collaborative teamwork for puzzle solving and interacting with the world’s inhabitants."
Brothers is a single-player co-op puzzle adventure. Think Ico, but with both characters controlled simultaneously. The left analog and shoulder button control the older brother while the right side controls the younger sibling. The gameplay is innovative and a true test of your hemispheric balance. Each brother has a different set of characteristics that require collaborative teamwork for puzzle solving and interacting with the world’s inhabitants.
Everything you see and do in Brothers carries a profound sense of discovery and wonder. The game may be linear and the puzzles aren’t particularly difficult, but they are so creatively crafted, just experiencing them is fun and exciting. Activating levers and overcoming perilous environmental obstacles hasn’t been this much fun in years. There aren’t any real enemy encounters in the game, but there are a few truly memorable boss fights. Much like the platforming, overcoming bosses requires synergy. You can’t fight them head on, so it’s a matter of scouting the environment to discover alternative attack methods. Their climactic encounters are the highlights of the game and serve as a nice change of pace from lever pulling and climbing.
"Every scene feels like you’re walking through a living, breathing painting and the further you explore the world, the more impressive the scenery becomes."
Looking at the screenshots, it’s easy to envision a colorful and lighthearted narrative, but Brothers is anything but joyous. The story is dark, emotional…and thoroughly depressing. By the time the credits rolled, I was quivering…and stared blankly at the screen as the music faded away. This impactful experience is the result of exquisite cinematography by Fares and an art style charmingly complimenting the Brother’s despairing story. Every scene feels like you’re walking through a living, breathing painting and the further you explore the world, the more impressive the scenery becomes.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons needs to be experienced whether you like puzzle adventure games or not. While the journey is brief (3-4 hours), every second spent with the brothers will stay with you long after the game is over. It’s a beautifully macabre fairy tale reminiscent of Grim Brothers’ original writings and I only hope Fares continues exploring the video game realm for his future projects.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Xbox 360