McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
by Garon Cockrell
Video Game Review: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
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By Garon Cockrell
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Sept. 27, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade (reviewed), Playstation Network, and PC
Iíd have thought you crazy if you were to tell me that the
same studio responsible for The Darkness and
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from
Butcher Bay was going to make a game that would affect me emotionally more
than any other game released this year. Brothers:
A Tale of Two Sons is, as I mentioned on this episode of my podcast, is
one of those ďindie darlingĒ games that gets the press all abuzz. After finishing
it, if it asked me to put $5.75 in my pocket, grasp a cup of Kool-Aid in hand,
and put white Nike Decades on, Iíd do so without much second guessing.<>
Brothers is
journey of two brothers on a quest to get a cure for their fatherís mysterious
ailment. While the premise seems like itís been done before, you find yourself
in a different situation than youíd think youíd end up. The brothers donít take
up arms to defend themselves and slay any evil that gets in their way. Instead,
they do what most young boys would do Ė head out with only their wits and one
another to depend on. Itís a fairly simple distinction from other games of its
ilk, but itís something that truly sets it apart.<>
Having nothing to rely on but one another, the two brothers
head out on their journey for a cure for their father. Making their way out the
village, youíre given more time to acclimate yourself with the control scheme.
You control the older brother with left stick and the younger brother with the
right stick. Now you might be thinking how difficult it would be to make the
brothers do anything, given that your thumbs are occupied by controlling their
movements. The simple, and slightly brilliant, workaround is that the
corresponding triggers handle all of the interactions the brothers have.
While the control scheme is simple, itís something that does
take some adjustment to an otherwise-conditioned brain. When it syncs up, the
choice to go this route is marvelous, although just how often that actually
happens is likely to vary considerably from person to person. There are some
people that it just clicks for, and once it does, they never have an issue with
it again. I fall into the category of it working for a time, realizing that itís
working, trying to concentrate on it as to not break the flow, only to have
just that happen. It was only a slight a hindrance for me as Brothers never really requires any sort
of dexterous thumb work.<>
Any of the puzzles in the game that impede your progress are
fairly simple and will rarely take more than a few minutes to figure out. Thereís
also not an overabundance of them, making the ones that are there fit smoothly
into the world. They also never really stick to one particular thing for very
long, introducing you to one type of mechanic and then moving on well before it
wears out its welcome. A favorite of mine involved something resembling a
gigantic hamster wheel, which seemed absurd for a moment until I thought about
why itís there and what purpose it would serve. Little things like that help
sell the realism of a world that looks and feels like a fairytale come to life,
similar to Fable (sans the chicken
kicking and the rampant flatulence humor that Fable is known for).
Both the whimsical sense of wonder and the sometimes darker
narratives of those fairytales are present throughout your journey. Never
having a decipherable language in Brothers
adds to that feeling as you use your imagination to fill in the blanks.
Thereís some amazing setpieces that the two brothers donít themselves understand,
making you feel more a part of their journey than you might otherwise. I was
left dying to know just what was going on in many of the areas, but you move so
briskly from area to area, that you never really get the chance to ponder too
long on any one scene.<>
Itís a short journey through, taking around three hours if
you donít spend any time exploring as you go. Those that spend the time to poke
their noses around, something I highly recommend,
will find the most rewarding experience Brothers
can offer. While none of the sidetracking affects the gameís outcome, the more
you explore, the more of the enriched youíre going to find your time spent in
the game. Interacting with things with each brother separately will often net
you a different result. One of my favorite moments is coming across a house
with a harp on the porch. Interact with the younger brother and you find that
you might have a musical protťgť attached to your right stick, while you find
the older isnít anywhere near as competent with the instrument. The villager
sitting in front of the harp will also react differently to each brotherís
attempt at playing it.
Such wonderful little experiences like that are a testament
as to just how much care was given to the single button interactions. There are
a few moments in the game that made me realize just how much weight is given to
this simple mechanic, one nearly bringing me to tears and another, after
realizing its use, bringing such a sense of elation that it nearly brought me
to tears again (or Iím just a big sissy). <>
Brothers is one of
those games that has people buzzing about it for good reason. With a truly
unique control scheme, a beautiful aesthetic, and one of few stories that ever
brought about real emotion for me, youíd be fairly foolish to not play it. The
moments when the control scheme might not work for you can be a bit
frustrating, but even falling on the extreme side of the negative of it, it
never hindered my love for the tale it was telling or my desire to see
everything the world had to offer me.
9 out of 10 silently crying game reviewers

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