Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game quite different to my usual kind of game. In fact, it is probably quite a different game for most people, given the controls. It’s only a short game, but boy does it leave it’s mark. Developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 505 Games, Brothers presents an entirely new stance on the use of co-op in games. In fact, there is no two player co-op. You, the player, control the two eponymous brothers, with the two control sticks and bumpers (on the Xbox 360). Left stick and left bumper controls Naia, the elder brother, whilst right stick and right bumper controls Naiee, the younger of the two. Using only these four controls, you guide the brothers through the world, solving puzzles and making progress. There is little to no conversation between the few characters you come across since any words spoken are in a fictional language, meaning everything is portrayed through actions and gestures. Despite this vast change to most other games, it means so much more detail has been poured into the game.
The story is your basic tale of loss and recovery – the game begins with the mother of the boys being lost at sea, and a family in mourning. The father suddenly becomes ill and the two brothers set off on a mission to find the special ingredient that will speed their father’s recovery. This mission sees the pair travel through their land, across a variety of landscapes, big and small, with a limited amount of interaction with other people. There are some stark and sudden surprises off the beaten path – an attempted suicide you try to help change, sounding a sheep’s horn which is bigger than either of the brothers, rescuing baby turtles. Most of these lead to Achievements/Trophies, but are a nice little viewpoint on the breadth of a world outside the brothers. As for the lands you venture through, these are vast and varied. Villages and forest routes make way for ice packs and a flight through a vast gorge, which in turn leads you to a giant’s home and a battlefield filled with the dead. Each of these present their own challenges and each also have convenient benches to view the land around you and sit for a breather.
Through the game, the premise remains the same: use the skills of each brother to aid the other in getting to the end point. Older brother is stronger, pulling and pushing various levers and switches and can point the player in the right direction if need be. Younger brother can fit between bars and can be given a boost up by older bro to get to new heights. They work together to get past any challenges. Although the controls take some getting used to, the idea is so unique in a world of ‘press bumper to shoot’ that it’s refreshing to play. Between them, you can get through the game fairly easily, with little in the way of true threats. Yes, you can ‘die’ in the game, but after a brief reload, the game puts you back not too far from where you were. After all, it’s about the journey, not the details. Towards the end of the game, the novelty starts to wear off in favour of a heartbreaking twist in the tale. I don’t want to spoil it all, but, as I said, this is a tale of loss and recovery. I haven’t teared up at a game in a long, long while. That’s not to say that the twist wasn’t warranted, but the player-character relationships formed with this game means the twist is all the harder to take. I left this game shaken. Brothers is a short, strong and powerful game. Yes there is little in the way of a difficulty curve but this game isn’t about that. This is a game that is about the love and trust two brothers have for one another in the face of loss and sorrow. It’s about a bond that can’t be broken and about growing up. For the few faults it has, there is joy and despair in equal measures and it’s a game that will always stay with me.
Khinjarsi doesn’t share this brotherly bond with her brother, and certainly wouldn’t go traversing across the world for a ‘magic ingredient’. She also states that all images belong to their respective owners, linked with each picture and found with Google Images.