I finished Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons one sitting. Like Journey or an episode of The Walking Dead, I found it was best to experience this games without disruption.
Brothers felt like a feature film to me. The game spanned two hours but unlike other games, it was an uninterrupted two hours; there were no loading screens or chapter markers and if I didn’t screw up, it could have been a completely seamless experience.
Starbreeze created Brothers. I was taken aback when I saw their logo splash across the screen. This studio known for creating some of the most immersive first person shooters managed form ties between the player and two on screen characters through the use of thumb sticks and triggers.
The left stick and left trigger controlled the older brother’s interactions while the right stick and right trigger were responsible for the younger brother. The two of them embarked on a journey to find a magical healing item for their ailing father and it was up to me to guide them towards their objective with the use of my thumbs.
I had to solve what were usually seen as co-operative puzzles with my own two thumbs. It was a strange sensation despite the fact that I’m more than comfortable with the idea of dual analog games.
The unfamiliarity stemmed from the fact that I was controlling two separate entities on the screen. The mere fact that they could move independently, interact independently and held unique characteristics was enough to separate the two.
None of their unique qualities were explicitly spoken aloud. If it was, I didn’t comprehend it because I didn’t speak the game’s unique brand of gibberish. The older brother was mature and didn’t antagonize the villagers like the younger one. He was also stronger and taller which meant he was doing the heavy lifting. The younger one was able to squeeze between steel bars and was the more light hearted and gentle of the two. It was a bit surprising to learn so much about the two brothers through simple observation and interactions with each other and the environment.
Brothers was a beautiful game. Starbreeze was showing off their creative muscle and mastery of the Unreal Engine 3.0 middleware with this game. Why else would they install benches for the brothers to sit on? The amazing art style reminded me of the first Fable but with a softer and more whimsical touch.
I don’t want to spoil Brothers. It’s a touching tale and I think it’s a wonderful example of something only an interactive medium like games could pull off. Developing a relationship between on screen characters and the player through visuals and interaction alone is a remarkable feat. Games have simulated the shooting of firearms and the gouging of eyeballs but those were all fleeting moments. Brothers takes the player by the hands and builds a relationship over the course of a couple of hours. And I believe everyone should experience it.
For more information on Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, visit the official website.