Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Tale of an Excellent Game

The title screen displays the game's simple, but impressive art style

Giant Bomb's Game of the Year podcast compelled me to purchase Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons. I'm glad I did because it's a wonderful game. Everything about it is simple and uncomplicated, but evocative and moving.

The game concerns two boys who must travel a great distance to find a special medicine for their father, who has fallen gravely ill. Along the way they meet interesting creatures

I don't know why there are mushrooms growing on my back?

Encounter danger

Why is it always a spider?

And enjoy some spectacular scenery

The art style is not heavily detailed, but it suits the story perfectly. It's much like a storybook or a fairytale; the look of it is secondary to the story and the characters. Nevertheless, there are some incredible vistas in the game, and the player can sometimes sit the characters down on a nearby bench to enjoy them.

The boys also discover that they must work together to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles.

 Okay, what do we do now?

Those sheep would make lovely sweaters

And this is where the simple control scheme comes into play. Left trigger and stick control Big Brother; right trigger and stick control Little Brother; the camera is moved left or right with the shoulder buttons. The player simply moves a character to an object, holds the trigger to cause interaction, and pushes the stick to perform an action. The height and weight of the characters come into play, too, as shown in the above picture. So, the player must decide who is to do what to be successful. Easy to learn and to use, but there were times when I found the characters running into walls or bushes or towards cliffs because I had crossed their paths. I had Big Brother on the right and Little Brother on the left and kept moving them the wrong way. So, I would have to leave one motionless, move the other to his proper side, and then move them together.

It's what you might call single-player co-op, I guess, and it is designed to make gameplay fun and to evoke the brotherly love that the boys have for one another as they complement and compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Has the old man been drinking again?

You really should learn to swim. It might come in handy one day

Now, the obstacles that the brothers must overcome are not particularly difficult, but difficulty is not what this game is about. This game is all about story and character. The obstacles, puzzles, what have you, are designed to enable player interaction and to characterise the relationship between the two brothers and that, in turn, helps the player to identify with them. It also makes the ending all the more heart-wrenching. I'm no spoiler-baby, but in this case, I believe revealing the ending would ruin the experience for anyone wishing to play this game. And you should play it. You won't regret the 3-4 hours it takes to play it.

Bought through Steam
Played on PC with a wired XBOX 360 controller
Playtime: around 4 hours

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