We recently got our hands on the XBLA/PSN title, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and came out impressed by its sophisticated gameplay. The developers describe the game as an easy-going adventure which is meant to be played leisurely and without the stress of dying and retrying--but that doesn't mean the game isn't without its challenges. The combination of the game's puzzles and simplistic controls manages to stay engaging as the straightforward situations quickly escalate into complicated mind benders.
Our demo opened in a vast mine, filled with hanging container tracks, industrial machinery, and metal pipes--a stark contrast to the steep cliffs, green wilderness and quiet town we saw in our first look at the game. The developers mentioned that the level being shown was one of the most puzzle-heavy. In one section, the two young brothers came across a raised bridge with moving gears keeping the pathway closed. Upon further exploration of the surrounding area, we uncovered a large pipe we could use to jam the gear. Both brothers must grab each end of the long pipe maneuver it through several tight corners, which reminded us of carrying furniture on moving day.
Another section had us guiding both brothers on separate paths simultaneously. One brother needed to grab onto a hanging chain moving on a conveyer, while the other flipped switches to open up barriers so his brother could pass through. The game has simple controls (with one analog stick and trigger assigned to a respective character), but this particular section felt like the equivalent of rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. The situation forces you to constantly track and control two characters doing two different things, training you to really focus on what your hands are doing. It was quite a unique experience.
With a game as short as Brothers (the story will take you about 3 or 4 hours), the developers are striving to keep all of the puzzle situations from ever repeating. So, maneuvering a pipe through a corridor (as we described above) will only happen once. Every location is said to look and feel different, and you'll also encounter most characters a single time.
The developers were also sure to point out that the camera moves according to how the brothers are placed on the screen, keeping one brother on the left and the other on the right. While this mechanic keeps players from confusing which brother is being controlled by which analog stick, the camera also manages to focus on the beautiful landscapes and fascinating backgrounds. When we worked our way through the mine, the camera gave us an impressive view of the mine's architecture and the working giants digging in the rock with their pickaxes.
For more information on Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, check out our previous coverage on the next page. Be sure to check back for more as we get closer to the game's release on XBLA and PSN in May 2013.
Developer Starbreeze recently showed off its upcoming adventure title Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and it seems to have some interesting ideas. The game is about two young brothers who set out into the world to find a cure for their ailing father. Along the way, players will have to solve puzzles using the brothers' differing personalities and abilities, encounter mythical creatures, and explore mysterious environments.
Big brother and little brother are both controlled by a single player from an isometric viewpoint. The left analogue stick controls the big brother's movement and the left trigger works as his action button. The opposite stick and trigger control the little brother. Both characters have a different personality and abilities from the other. The younger brother is playful and nimble, and the older boy is responsible and strong. These attributes affect the way they interact with the environment and other characters in the world.
Depending on which brother interacts with an NPC or object, you can get different results based on their personalities. For instance, at one point in the demo, the two encountered a white rabbit that was being shunned by his black-furred counterparts. When the big brother interacts with it, he picks it up, puts it down, and nothing special happens. When the little brother interacts with the rabbit, he playfully drops him in a pile of black soot from a nearby campsite, turning the white rabbit into the more socially acceptable color black. It is then accepted into the group--leading the brothers to the path forward.
The brothers' physical abilities affect the gameplay as well. Big brother may be required to give his younger bro a boost up to a ledge, to which a ladder can be dropped to open the path, or the two might have to work together simultaneously to get around dangers. In one area, the brothers needed to get past a guard dog that was watching over recently sewn bales of hay. To safely cross this section, the brothers take turns climbing on top of hay bales while the other distracted the dog by whistling and yelling.
Much of the game’s charm comes from the characters' reactions to each other and the beautiful environments they explore. There is no real spoken dialogue, but the characters express themselves with their own gibberish language and animated, dramatic movements that convey the emotions of the characters very well. The environments are also visually striking. The camera often pulls back to show off the expansive vistas, and the autumn colors, steep cliff sides, and flowing creeks of the level we saw create remarkable surroundings to explore.
Starbreeze mentioned that Brothers will be a bite-sized experience--lasting about three to four hours--and is designed to be played through in a single sitting (much like Journey). Look forward to getting your hands on Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons early 2013 for XBLA and PSN.