Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
|Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons|
Spike Chunsoft (Japan)
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Release date(s)||Xbox Live Arcade
7 August 2013
3 September 2013
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a downloadable story-driven puzzle-platformer adventure video game developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 505 Games released on 7 August 2013 for the Xbox Live Arcade and on 3 September 2013 for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation Network.
Brothers is presented from a third-person view overlooking the two brothers. The brothers are moved individually by two thumbsticks on the controller. The controller triggers also cause the respective brother to interact with the game world, such as talking to a non-player character or grabbing onto a ledge or object. The older brother is the stronger of the two and can pull levers or boost his younger brother to higher spaces, while the younger one can pass between narrow bars. The player progresses by manipulating the two brothers at the same time to complete various puzzles, often requiring the player to manipulate both brothers to perform differing functions (such as one distracting a hostile non-player character while the other makes their way around). Should either brother fall from a great height or get injured, the game restarts at a recent checkpoint. All of the in-game dialogue is spoken in a fictional language, thus the story is conveyed through actions, gestures and expressions.
The story begins with a boy named Naiee paying his respects at the tombstone of his mother, who drowned at sea while he remained unable to save her. His elder brother, Naia, calls him to help their ill father reach the village's doctor, who in turn tells them the only way to save him is by collecting the waters from the Tree of Life. The brothers embark on their journey through the village, hills and mountains, while facing challenges like the local bully, a farmer's aggressive dog, and deadly wolves. They also help others along the way – reuniting a friendly pair of trolls, saving a man attempting suicide, and aiding an inventor.
Eventually they reach a giants' castle and free a badly injured griffin who helps them before succumbing to its injuries. The brothers press on through a valley of dead giants that went to war and save a girl from being sacrificed by tribesmen. The girl in turn helps them travel icy waters, avoiding deadly orca-like fish. They arrive at an old town that was in the middle of a battle before everyone suddenly froze to death in-place, and the trio have to escape from an invisible giant that stalks the ruins of the town. After successfully defeating the monster, the girl begins seducing Naia, and soon tricks the brothers to enter a cave, much to Naiee's dismay. Once inside she reveals herself as a monstrous spider and while trying to eat Naia, the brothers manage to thwart and kill her by pulling off her legs – but not before she mortally wounds Naia.
Nearing the end of their journey, the brothers at last reach the Tree of Life; Naia insists that Naiee ventures on to reach the top of the tree. He collects the Water of Life, but as he returns to the bottom, he finds that Naia has already died from his injuries. Unable to revive him using the water, Naiee buries and grieves for his older brother before returning to the village aided once again by a griffin.
Upon reaching the shoreline, Naiee must face his fear of swimming in order to get the waters to his dying father. His mother's spirit appears to comfort and motivate him, and with Naia's spiritual guidance – in-game, the use of Naia's interaction key – Naiee is able to force himself to swim to the village. He is finally able to give the doctor the water, and the father recovers from his illness overnight. A short time afterwards, Naiee and his father mourn at the tombstones of both the mother and Naia while the griffin flies on into the mountains.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, formerly known as P13, was developed by Starbreeze Studios and was the first game to come from a publishing partnership with 505 Games. The game uses the Unreal Engine 3 and was developed in collaboration with the Swedish award-winning film director Josef Fares.
There have been numerous positive previews for Brothers, and parallels have been drawn with Journey and Fable. IGN said that Brothers "might be the best downloadable title since Journey". 1up said "I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into when I met with Swedish film director Josef Fares a few months back. I knew it had something to do with Starbreeze, a studio that Matt Leone deconstructed in one of last year's phenomenal cover stories. But film directors transitioning into video games have had a less-than stellar record. Look at the Wachowskis, Spielberg, John Woo...let's just say that their cinematic outputs far outweigh their video game analogues. So what could a film director possibly show me in a video game that would impress me during the busiest season in our medium? Well, it turns out that Fares was prepared to debut a downloadable title called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and that it was about to command my utmost attention."
GamesMaster 's James Nouch rated a preview of the game 2/5 saying, "Brothers is a charming, emotive adventure that flows at its own rather sedate, pace", but in their final review GamesMaster gave it a 91/100 writing, "Short but immensely satisfying, it's Ico meets Limbo in Fable's world. In a word: spellbinding." Edge gave it a 7/10 in its review. It praised the visual style, pace and story, as well as the controls, saying that the control scheme "understands what it means to communicate meaning through interaction"; but it criticized Starbreeze's lack of confidence in making an art game. UK's GamesTM magazine gave Brothers a score of 8/10 in its review in issue 137. Joystiq gave it full score in its review, 5/5. Joystiq's Ludwig Kietzmann says: "It's rare for a game to forge a connection so strong, and even rarer for you to become the connective tissue." Official Xbox Magazine UK praised the game and its touching story and inventive controls. They gave it a review score of 9/10. The Digital Fix also praised the game and gave it 10/10, with Rob Kershaw writing "Brothers is nothing short of a triumph, glowing brightly in the embers of the dying fire of this console generation and reminding us all why we started playing games in the first place."GameTrailers.com rated the game 88/100 in their positive review, writing "A Tale of Two Sons rubs elbows with Ico and Journey, though the setting and style are a bit more traditional." Sweden's biggest gaming site FZ.se honored the game with 5/5 in its review, describing it as a masterpiece with a very touching story, extremely beautiful landscapes and inventive, well implemented controls.
Both IGN and PC Gamer forecasts that Brothers can be one of the best games of 2013. IGN states this with "It's no secret that we love Journey. It was our Game of the Year for 2012, after all. And we quite love Fable too [...]. So to combine the two into one cinematic, story-driven experience – one written and directed by a decorated Swedish filmmaker – meant our interest was piqued. And after we saw the game, we knew: this is going to be good. Really, really good." PC Gamer said "this could easily shape up to be one of the indie darlings of 2013." TotalBiscuit named the game his "Game of the Year 2013" and highly recommended it to anyone who has the means to purchase it, calling it "...the best game I have ever played." The game won the "Best Innovation" award while nominated for "Best Family Game" and "Best Story" at the 2014 BAFTA Video Games Awards.
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