When you take away dialogue from a movie, you are left to what you see to explain and understand what is happening. You might expect that a game is incapable of telling such a story without dialogue, but you’d be wrong. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is exactly that, an experience that transcends typical video gaming formulas and delivers a truly incredible experience without uttering one explicable word.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to write a review about Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. This was supposed to be one of those games that I played on the weekends to pass some time and just relax. But it quickly thrust me into the story, making me feel things that not many others games have ever done before. To say Brothers was a nice looking game with an interesting story does absolutely no justice to the incredible experience that should definitely be at the top of your “To Play” list.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is an incredible story driven, twin stick puzzle game that really shows what a short three to four hour experience can deliver. Looking from the outside, it seems that Brothers should be a cooperative game, and I’m sure it would have been interesting, but the struggles and mechanics of the game would get lost. Brothers controls are very simple; you control the bigger brother with the left stick and perform his actions with the left trigger. You control the smaller brother with the right stick and perform his actions with the right trigger. It sounds very simple to control, but it’s one of those cases where it’s easier said than done. At the beginning you struggle to find the correct way to navigate the landscapes moving both sticks in the same direction while avoiding the many treacherous objects in the environment. You work together, your left thumb and right thumb, to accomplish tasks and perform seemingly easy puzzles. This can range from boosting the little brother up to a ledge you both can’t quite reach, or even carrying heavy objects that require two people. It does take a few minutes to truly make the connection that you are moving two separate characters simultaneously. I had quite a few cases of leaving the little brother behind leading to his death because I was not used to controlling character movement with the right thumb stick. But as time progresses you learn how the game wants you to play and you begin to get better at controlling two separate characters.
What makes this experience truly different from any other is because of the lack of dialogue, you are left to shape the story by the in game mechanics and short cutscenes. You have the ability to make up any sort of supporting backstory you wish and this allows every person who plays Brothers to get something different out of it. The problem I have with some games is that no matter how many thousands of words they pack in to the 10 hours of gameplay, you end up not caring about particular characters because of the way their speak, or the words they choose. In the case of Brothers, no words are spoken and each of the two brothers are differentiated by their skills and abilities. You understand the struggle of being the younger brother, too small to carry heavy things, too short to reach ledges or branches on a tree. You also understand being the bigger brother, where you can reach those ledges or tree branches, but you are just too big to fit in between fence posts. You feel how terrified the younger brother is of water and how the bigger brother tries to help by allowing his younger brother to hold on to his back and act as a ferry to the shores. Throughout these cutscenes and actions you start to develop feelings for the brothers and because of it, this game allows you to feel a range of emotions that are rarely felt in other games.
But don’t get me wrong, this game isn’t just one big emotional experience. You do get a chance to really sit back and appreciate the beautiful scenery, and see the different personalities of the brothers. Occasionally you will happen upon benches that the brothers can sit in, the camera pans out to show you the beautiful landscape of the mysterious land you are traversing, it is truly a sight to behold.
The game is full of moments that you might never see unless you explore. Early on in the game you happen upon a man re-thatching his roof, the bigger brother asks him a question and the man responds. The younger brother jumps around and starts messing with the thatched roof which angers the man. It is through these little moments that do not really add to the story that you really see the differing personalities of each of the brothers.
Brothers Is a truly moving experience that shows that even video games without dialogue can make you happy, sad, laugh, and even cry. With a simple control scheme that is made difficult only by your own brain, and interesting puzzles and game mechanics that really make you think, Brothers is a game you absolutely cannot miss whether it be on PC, Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3.