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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PC) artwork

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PC) review


"Sibling harmony"


"How did I end up here?"

I've always enjoyed adventurous titles that evoke that particular question. How did I begin my quest in a mundane setting, only to wind up at the end of a hellish road? That prompts me to think back on the places I visited and the transitions I made from one locale to another, trying to piece together the events that brought me there. Sometimes, I find that the memories trigger a fresh playthrough, allowing me to relive those key moments.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is just such an adventure. It places you in control of two young boys who embark on a voyage to save their ailing father. Their only clue is a parchment containing a detailed sketch of a curative plant, given to them by their town's apothecary. So they set out into a fantastic domain teeming with mythical beasts and dangerous set pieces.

Brothers is not a dialogue-heavy adventure. Though the characters speak during cutscenes, their speech is brief and unintelligible. Our heroes don't reside in our world, and converse in a fictional tongue. That keeps chatter to a minimum and allows anyone to enjoy the experience, regardless of their initial language. It also means that Brothers spins its yarn with more of a "show, don't tell" method in mind. For instance, the opening cutscene depicts a heartrending event involving water. A few minutes later, the siblings must cross a small stream, but the younger of the two refuses. He is only willing to do so when his older brother offers to carry him. This tells you a lot about both boys, particularly the fears of one and the devotion of the other to his family.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PC) image

I'm not going to act like Brothers' campaign is entirely smooth sailing. Mainly, it sports a learning curve, though it's not a steep one. You see, when I say you control both kids, I really mean it. Both analog sticks move the two youngsters, while the right and left triggers serve as their action buttons. Regardless of what Steam tells you, it is possible to play Brothers via keyboard, as well. At first, handling the duo is tricky. You feel like you're maneuvering two drunken men as they amble all over the place. Thankfully, Brothers' mechanics are not extremely demanding. Few scenes require precision, and the game by no means poses a face-breaking challenge. That way, even if you don't entirely acclimate to its awkward play control, you can still get through the campaign without constantly dying.

And believe me, it's a campaign worth seeing through to its conclusion. Brothers takes you on an odyssey across perilous mountain passes, through troll-infested mines and into dark forests filled with hungry wolves. You float down rapid rivers, trying to prevent the twosome from splitting up. You crawl along cliffs while vicious treants attempt to rip you to shreds. You glimpse the bloody aftermath of a war between giant clans, and figure out how to navigate a battlefield strewn with massive corpses.

Brothers features splendid visuals during your quest, too. Hillsides overlook gorgeous valleys and wonderful sunsets. Vistas show you the intricate work of the aforementioned mines and the busy creatures who run it. Crisp waters and pure white snow await you as well, complete with a vast tundra, an aurora borealis and a starry night sky. These scenes are eye candy, to be sure, but they accentuate Brothers' adventurous qualities perfectly.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PC) image

However, these set pieces aren't only there for your adoration. They challenge you with puzzles and situations that require a little thought. For instance, one segment presents you with a wide gorge to cross. Stripped trees lie next to the cliff overlooking the pit, as well as a double-handled saw left unmanned. I think you can work out the rest... Brothers showcases a collection of trials that are not especially demanding, but require you to interact with the environment and formulate plans. They're also breezy and enjoyable, preventing any slips in the game's pacing. Brothers, as a result, remains a thoroughly thrilling ride.

The game's soundtrack, provided by composer Gustaf Grefberg, also terrifically sets the tale's mood. The score provides Noridc-inspired vocals and beautiful stringed instruments that highlight the campaign's most memorable moments. The music soars during times of triumph or awe, and hits all the right, somber notes during melancholy events.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PC) image

By the time you reach the end of the line, you'll think back on the events that led you there. You'll realize that it's all seamless and not so contrived. It's not as though the brothers walked out their backdoor and were suddenly in a jungle. You saw the land transition from mountain passes to mines, from barren battlefields to icy rivers. Their journey is imaginative and well constructed, and not merely a piecemeal collection of wondrous locations. It's a world brimming with imagination that I wouldn't mind revisiting in some other capacity, perhaps a future related product.

Through simple storytelling, terrific visuals and masterful music, the game weaves a heartfelt tale of courage, dotted with both emotional highs and lows. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons also wows you with clever, yet snappy puzzles that work well with its odd play control. Brothers offers up exactly the kind of experience I expect from an adventure title: a solid, moving story; great interactive segments; lovely visuals and music; and a voyage that takes you to grand places.

5/5

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (February 19, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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