The annual Xbox Summer of Arcade promotion kicked off last week. Since the promotions beginning back in 2008, it has been a platform for these special “little” games. Castle Crashers, Shadow Complex, Limbo, and so many more have not only been highly successful but they’ve been deemed special games that we won’t soon forget. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, the first game in this years Summer of Arcade, just might be joining the ranks of those previous games I mentioned.
Brothers follows two siblings on an adventure to find a cure for their gravely ill father. Throughout there journey they run into different characters and scenarios that impact the emotion or mood of the game. For instance, a scene where a man is on the verge of committing suicide. You could choose to simply pass by or you can save his life. Neither choice impacts the games ending but it’s these few moments that make you feel something. The ending is enough to get you misty-eyed, and when a game can achieve to draw that level of emotion out of the player that is a job well done.
This game is the definition of a non-traditional game. The characters speak gibberish, there are no “real” enemies to kill or defeat, and the game isn’t puzzle heavy. Surprisingly enough, I never felt bored with Brothers. I always wanted to see what the next stop on their journey was. One thing I liked from a gameplay perspective was that both brothers had their strengths and weaknesses. Just because the little brother is little didn’t mean he was weaker or that he was always the one in need of rescue. The puzzlers are few and far between, and simple; no real mind benders.
With a name like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons you would immediately assume it’s a cooperative experience. Wrong! Brothers is a single player game in which you control these two brothers simultaneously using the thumbsticks for each brothers movement. The triggers are used for each brothers action button, used to hold on ledges and whatnot. That is it as far as controller inputs go in this game. Though I totally understand the idea of controlling these brothers simultaneously from a gameplay perspective it didn’t change the fact that it was like playing twister with the thumbsticks. Often I had a Brother running up against the wall because my mind couldn’t comprehend what my thumbs needed to do. It’s odd but not to the point of causing major frustration.
Throughout your journey in Brothers you’ll witness several visually beautiful locations. Brothers is a great game to look at, more so when you come across the massive open landscapes. Too bad you can’t venture off into them. One level in particular was stunning to me as it featured dead giant warriors across the level, their blood flowing through the river canals.
If you’re looking for a short but sweet, unique experience that will have you heartbroken by the end, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons could be your game. I feel like not many people are paying attention to this game, but do yourself a favor and seek this game out immediately. I wouldn’t be surprised if it cracked people’s top 10 of the year list. Do yourself a favor and don’t be late to this party.
This review is based on a digital download copy of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on XBLA provided by 505 Games.