Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons is an emotionally charged adventure game that follows Naiee and his older brother Naia as they embark on the journey of a lifetime in order to save their desperately ill father. Developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 505 Games. A Tale Of Two Sons is a port of the hugely successful 360 version, which was released in 2013.
As the story begins we find Naiee the younger of the two siblings, knelt on one knee in front of his mother’s tombstone, she had sadly drowned in a boating accident, with Naiee unable to save her. There is a rather touching moment as the spirit of Naiee’s beloved mother emerges through the stone, brushing aside the flowers that have grown in front of her tombstone. She gently kneels down in front of her lost son and places a loving kiss upon his forehead.
Not content with having tragically lost their mother, they now find their father very sickened and desperately in need of medicine. Naia is attempting to place their fallen father into a barrow, so the two brothers can wheel him to the local doctor and beckons Naiee from the tombstone to help him. The brothers, pulling and pushing the barrow which carries their father towards their destination. After a short trek they reach the doctor who informs the two boys that in order to save their ill father, they must reach the Tree Of Life and retrieve water from the top.
One of the most remarkable elements of Brothers is the sheer emotion that fills their every step, Naiee and Naia are brothers in every sense of the word, the close, loving bond shared between the pair seeps through every pore within the body of the game. Essentially a twin stick controlled adventure game, players take hold of both Naiee and Naia, guiding them through the glorious and beautifully sculpted landscape, likened to something out of a J.R Tolkien novel.
In order to reach the sacred Tree Of Life, the brothers must embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an adventure that will take them far and beyond the reaches of their quiet village home, out across the wildly beautiful, yet at times lethal landscape. Controlling both Brothers isn’t overly complex but can take some time to get used to, with the use of both analog sticks each brother can be manoeuvred around. The key to forging forwards throughout the adventure is make sure both siblings are in tune with one another, while performing certain tasks. To learn that while Naia might be strong and can pull heavy levers, he has a bigger frame and thus can’t move through barred gates, whereas Naiee can.
Visually, Brothers is a true pinnacle of it’s generation, a modern masterpiece of beautiful design, with benches located throughout the story both Naia and Naiee can sit and reflect on the stunning scenery before them. There will be moments during the story when you’d be forgiven for stopping to soak in the atmosphere, if Tolkien had been a developer, he would have surely admired Brothers. From the lush green trees and flowing rivers and streams of their home village to the giants castle with the vast mountainside, every location is designed with the greatest care and detail.
A Tale Of Two Sons story achieves where most games all too often fall away, it is as dramatic and mesmerizing as it is desperately heart wrenching, the script though small is well written and seldom wanders off the beaten path. While venturing through the short tale I found myself drawn to the brothers, the closeness between them and their willingness to work together for a common goal is unerring, while one brother may lack certain qualities required to survive the journey, the other quickly picks up the slack to keep the ship pointing in the right direction. A fundamental key to telling a good tale is to keep players engrossed in the adventure, Brothers draws you in and refuses to let go until the heart warming tale meets it’s conclusion, The intention is for you to have genuine feelings for the pair and their cause.
There are various times throughout Brothers where the boys can interact with certain objects, some could perceived as cruel, such as relieving a young child of her ball before placing it inside a well, while some could be seen as gentle such as taking the only white rabbit from a colony of black rabbits and helping it blend in with its brothers by lowering it into a burnt out fire. Most interactions within the game are born out of necessity and this is where the teamwork comes to the fray.
At times the siblings will find their path cruelly blocked, requiring both Naiee and Naia to figure a way through, the puzzles in the game are not overly taxing and shouldn’t prevent even the laziest of gamers from progressing forward. Objects can be lowered using Naia, who unlike his smaller brother has the strength to pull down the toughest of levers. Naiee of course isn’t without his advantages, his small stature can fit through and between the smallest of gaps, which helps immensely in the game. At times both brothers must work in unison with each other, whether its push levers forward or rowing a wooden boat, if the brothers are not in tune, death could soon follow.
The boys encounter many dangerous creatures during their journey across the unknown and though they can’t be defeated as such, can be avoided through various means, swiping a torch towards a wolf in the dark pushes the vicious animal back, thus clearing a safe path for the troubled siblings. At times they receive welcome assistance through the most unlikely of sources, including a rather gentle troll who helps them to ease certain passages that the boys would never be able to access by themselves. All the encounters within the game serve a purpose and help to further this truly remarkable tale of bravery and courage.
The boys tragic plight coupled with the games breathtaking fable like backdrop leaves Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons with very few equals in modern day gaming. The story take players on an emotional poetic journey through the most amazing of landscapes, where the unimaginable becomes a wonderfully drenched reality. Controlling both Naiee and Naia can be a little loose at times but with willingness the mechanics can be overcome, a true spectacle of a game lies ahead. It is rare in current times of blockbuster AAA titles to find a story that is so heart warming yet beautiful on the eye. Brothers has a spot in my heart for everything that it represents, it doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t, every single detail is so lovingly made.
Brothers takes players on the adventure of a lifetime through some of the most breathtaking scenery, the kind of dream like experience you can only get from reading a meaningful adventure-esqe novel. The art design to the game is incredibly well done, simply put, this is the kind of game that belongs on the next gen consoles in an age, where gamers are lost to AAA titles, Brothers deserves to sit aloft the top branch of the tree and does not deserve to be ignored.
Brothers A Tale Of Two Sons was reviewed on the Xbox One
Disclosure: Copy of game was provided by publisher/developer