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.