Review: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (3 1/2 hours)

This game has greatly simplified controls. As suggested in the title, the story revolves around two brothers. You control one brother with each thumbstick, and each brother can perform an action with each trigger. That’s all there is to the game’s controls. It is an adventure game with lots of puzzles, and these are the only forms of input you need.

At the start of the game, you watch the younger brother sit at a gravestone, remembering the loss of his mother. You see a scene in which the young boy’s mother falls off the edge of a rowboat and is drowning. The boy tries to save her, but to no avail. She drowns. Back at the gravestone, the mother’s heavenly outline walks from the stone to kiss her son on the forehead. With that, she disappears.

The older brother finds his sibling, to tell him that their father has fallen sick. Truthfully, the game has no real language. For those familiar with The Sims, sims speak a made-up language called similian. It’s the same idea. You take the father to the doctor, who analyzes the situation, and hands the older brother a scroll, presumably a script for medicine. Thus starts an adventure.

You show the scroll to people in town, and they point to where they think the two should go. Finally, you find a troll, who basically says the medicine the doctor ordered is on the other side of a mountain, which he then points to. It’s a lot of running around from here. The brothers can climb and jump, and you learn new tricks as you progress. From time to time, you can sit on a bench and look back on all the land you have crossed, or all the land you have yet to cross.

With the help of the troll, you go inside the mountain. There are clever things. The younger boy is still afraid of swimming after the incident with his mother, so he grabs on to his older brother’s back while the older brother swims. If one brother crosses a ledge, you can pull that brother’s trigger (on the controller) and signify it’s safe to cross. The puzzles continue to surprise you. After playing Limbo and being a bit disappointed with its puzzles, I found these puzzles to be a delight. Even after crossing the mountain, there are several more passages you must pass in your quest for the medicinal cure. All the while, Brothers keeps devising new ways of using it’s two button control scheme.

On occasion, you witness the father under the doctor’s care. There’s no timer to the game. All events are scripted, and there’s some A.I. here and there. Without spoiling the ending, I can say the puzzle-solving rarely got stale, and the story as portrayed through made-up words was top notch. I suppose a multiplayer mode would have been nice with two brothers. Still, it’s a fresh downloadable title among its downloadable peers.

4/5

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