I’ve talked in detail in the past of how in order for Independent Gaming Developers need to do to compete with Big Triple A titles and gargantuan developers is to create games that seem to focus on one area of gaming and do it to perfection, allowing a couple of things to fall to the more simplistic area to help push the game. We can look at Papers, Please as a game that sacrificed graphics and a well polished feel for immersive story telling and a challenging game. Journey focused almost solely on creating a visually stunning game that bordered on an artistic masterpiece. I for one think this is a great thing. Triple A titles these days seem to all be fighting with each other on what is the prettiest turd in the punch bowl of simplistic story driven games that it is nice that the independent scene has a plethora of alternatives to Grand Theft Auto XLIV and Call of Duty: 12 Year Old’s Wet Dream.
Independently developed video games have been winning me over for years now and after the release of the XBox One and PS4 last year, my journey to the light side became complete. So needless to say when I saw Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on sale during the Summer Steam Sale, I had to pick it up and give it a go. Now granted it may be a bit of a gray area to call Starbreeze Studios indie when they created games like Payday 2 and the Chronicles of Riddick games, but considering them against some of the bigger names, I’m going to let it slide for now. I have heard some interesting things about the game, most claiming it to be one of the best independent games that they have played. So needless to say there was a little bit of hype as I went diving head first into a world of two brothers adventuring to save their sick father and after playing I was left with a great big heaping pile of ‘Eh’. It wasn’t that the game was ‘bad’. Because it certainly was a good game but it certainly did not live up to the hype that many people have been calling it. It certainly is no Journey… But it also certainly isn’t an Amy so I guess there is that.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is naturally about two brothers. An older brother Naia and a younger brother named Naiee. The game opens with Naiee paying his respects to the grave of his now passed mother who died tragically when a storm hit while her and Naiee were on a boat. Due to this Naiee has had a fear of the water and as a result does not know how to swim. Well things take a turn for the worse when Naia and Naiee’s father becomes deathly ill and it is up to the two brothers to travel across the dangerous wilderness in the hopes of making it to a sort of ‘Tree of Life’ to bring back the magical water to save him.
As I said before, it is typical that Independent focus on one thing and do it very well. In this case Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons focused more on the graphics and feel of the game than they did the mechanics and actual crunch of the gameplay. The game looks beautiful and it knows it. It even gives you several instances where the characters can sit down and just take in the scenery. There are big sweeping shots while flying on a griffin or piloting a glider that allows you to take in this large and expansive world. Tiny moments like paddling the boat across crystal clear waters and flying through the large expansive sky is the best aspect of the game and one that can draw you in.
Able to Tell a Story without use of English
I love it when a game does this. I feel it really helps create a world when the characters do not just naturally speak English and with the lack of subtitles also makes the player focus on the characters and the beautiful world that it created instead of reading the text at the bottom of the screen. A very smart idea from the developers to help build the universe around it and force players to not so much focus on the words being said but the characters body language and the world surrounding the characters. It is a smart way to play to the games strengths instead of forcing in English and taking away a vital aspect of the game.
It doesn’t matter if you play this game with a controller or a keyboard, I guarantee that you will have the brothers blindly run into walls on more than one occasion. In what I can only call a strange single player multiplayer experience, you either control one brother with the left toggle and the other brother with the right or in the case of a keyboard the older brother with the space bar and asdf controls and the second brother with the directional buttons and right control key. I had these two brothers constantly running into walls or in some cases falling to their death because my finger got tired and let go of the space or control bar. It is a core part of the game and one that could not be avoided, but even so it took me far out of the mood when I noticed that the older brother had spent the past 3 seconds running in place next to a pile of cut logs.
Predictable Cookie Cutter Story
It only takes someone with basic common sense to see where this story is going. It is predictable from beginning to end. Between the younger brother’s dire fear of the water, the older brothers almost nonexistence to the plot itself except to be a guardian to the little brother, the father being sick, the mom dead. You can kind of see where this story is going to take you. It isn’t the worst thing because the game still tells the story really well, but me just giving you those little pieces of information is enough for you to put the pieces together.
Bottom line, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is good. It definitely is not great or one of the greatest games I have ever played, but it is good and what it does well it does really well. The graphics are amazing and the use of the characters makes you interact with this world as much as possible. It does have a rather generic and predictable story and the controls can be rather frustrating no matter what device you use. But it is a game that knows its strengths and it plays to its strengths. I include it with games like Journey in the blossoming artistic genre of video games.
Final Score 3/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. Next week I’ll be starting a new retrospective, what kind? I don’t know, I’ll figure that one out later. Also August I am going to officially dub Anime month so look for that as well. Hopefully I’ll also get a chance to see some new releases as well coming out soon.