Review: Brothers, a tale of two sons. #blogjune 26

I’m making hay while the sun shines on the videogame front. In a very real way, my life won’t be arranged around such pleasures for a time to come, and I’m taking advantage of the Steam Summer Sale to score and play through a few cheap games while I can.

I chose Brothers because it included a nifty design wrinkle – puzzles are solved by controlling both of the titular brothers at the same time. Single player coop has been done before – an early favourite of mine was The Lost Vikings, however the standard has been to swap between characters to solve puzzles. Not so in Brothers.

Gameplay was frustrating at first. My left hand controls the older brother (who is about 13, strong and can swim) and my right controls the younger (who, being a slight 9 year old or so, can squeeze through some smaller gaps). I found that while moving around the screen, I had to keep each brother on the same side as their controls or I’d get confused. I also felt vaguely patronised; although I was on a mission to save my (or is it our?) father, the first part of the game was spent trying to exit the village and being heckled by a local bully. I’d resigned myself to quickly trying out and abandoning the effort, when a veil dropped, and I went from grumbling about being reduced to childhood to exploring a rich and beautiful world full of strange inhabitants and amazing machinery.

It turns out it’s the work of an award winning film director, Josef Fares, and it shows. Vistas of both beauty and horror arise and are integrated successfully into play; in the scene below our heroes have to make their way through a recently finished war between giants, including wading through rivers of blood.

Brothers - Giants War

Roger Ebert famously said that videogames can’t be art. Despite my obvious leanings, I see what he was saying – the puzzles in Brothers are well delivered, but they’re still puzzles. That being said, even the puzzles themselves can confront. The brothers find their way blocked by a dead giant – they have to topple him by drawing and then firing a giant crossbow which, hitting his head, knocks him over and out of the way. The younger brother loudly complains in the game’s nonsense syllables, and the older annoyedly fobs him off before they continue their journey.

I’m far beyond a quick play of Brothers at this point. I’m curious to see the end, but like many good stories I don’t want the end to come at all. I’d better get through before baby comes, though.

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About seanmurgatroyd
Library (Shared blog): http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/ Personal including infoculture, book reviews: http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/ Music: http://seanfishmusic.wordpress.com/ Last.fm band page: http://www.last.fm/music/Seanfish @seanfish

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