“This is one journey you will never forget”
I am interested in games with silent narratives lately, so I decided to give Starbreeze’s “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” a try. First and foremost, I do know that this a game from years ago, and I was really late for the party, but I was very much excited to dive into the fantastical world of the game anyways! XD
The game is about two brothers trying to find a cure for their sick, and perhaps dying, father. The brothers lost their mother long before this incident, and now, they would have to risk their lives to obtain a cure, said to be found inside a humongous tree far, far away. Now, in order to reach that tree, the brothers have to traverse the continent, through giants, starving wolves, abandoned fortresses, the frozen continent like the arctic, and more treacherous regions.
I’ll talk briefly about the game’s system first; in this regard, the game employs a unique control scheme and concept, where the player controls two characters at once: the older brother and the younger brother. Aside from the movement buttons, the only other button for each of the sibling is the interaction button, enabling them to grab onto ledges, pull levers, grab and throw objects, or splash water to someone’s face while sleeping (yeah, that can happen!). This makes getting used to the control to take a while at first, but soon players would be able to move the brothers swiftly enough.
Now, the game’s world. I really like how the game presents itself as a seemingly usual world at first, with sheep, a fierce dog, and many people. Later into the game, however, players will discover giants, gryphons, large whale-orca-like hybrids, and other unusual creatures and occurrences. This fantasy-themed world looks even better with the game’s breathtaking visual design! When you reach the top of the cliff from the bottom, for example, you can actually see far down below, still in great detail 😀 . I’m not a person judging a game by its graphics, but having a nice graphical property is certainly a bonus!
As for the gameplay, I really like how the brothers are largely dependent with each other. Most of the time, players spend time solving simple, yet fun puzzles, such as getting one of the brothers to the other side of the gate to pull a lever for the other one so that both of them can pass through a gate. What makes it all the more interesting is the trait each brother has; the younger one can slip through gaps, and the older one is stronger to pull heavier levers, for example. The system is intuitive and fun, so solving these puzzles doesn’t feel like a repetitive chore at all. To add more to the mix, there are hidden side-quests for the brothers to do, such as looking for the three small-turtles for a giant turtle, or freeing a caged bird, all of which might seem trivial, but they are a lot of fun and great additions to the world 🙂 .
Now, the core-value of the review: the story. The characters in “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” can speak, but they talk in an unknown language, which sounds gibberish to me. The game mostly portrays and tells the unfolding events by actions, so we can understand what is happening through the characters’ gestures and movements (such as when a giant beckons for the brothers to follow them, enabling us to know he is escorting them). Even the characters’ personalities are shown through actions! An example include the brothers’ interaction with an inventor. When the older brother talks to him, he shows him the map of the area, asking for direction regarding the miraculous tree. However, in the case of the younger brother, he plays rock-paper-scissor with the inventor, instead (and the result varies from time to time!).
Despite the lack of dialogues, players can understand the story easily, and the story does not disappoint. What starts out simple develops into a richer, more mature narrative, with various creatures and the developing bond between the two brothers, leading to an amazing ending. I won’t spoil anything here, but you have to believe me that for a ‘silent’ game, the story is magnificent!
“Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” is a short game, but it feels more satisfying and meaningful than some of the longer games that I have played. Give it a try, and you won’t be disappointed! 😀
Rating from me: 4/5