I stand alone at the edge of a wooden plank, staring off into the distance at two hanging vines and a tree branch; a massive chasm yawning below me. Farther away, a rope beckons, begging to be climbed so I can move onwards and upwards. At the moment, though, I have absolutely no idea how to get there. So I experiment; I connect one vine to the branch then chop it at its root. No luck. Next, I re-draw the vines to be hooked together, then cut one to swing near me. Nope, not working. Frustration begins to bubble beneath the surface, until a new idea dawns. Draw a new vine here, hook it to a branch there, make it swing as such, and voila! Feeling sufficiently brilliant, I hop onto my makeshift, Tarzan-esque contraption and move on to the next challenge.
Such moments are common in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Playing as Max--a rambunctious young boy who’s accidentally caused his meddlesome little brother to be carted off to a fantasy world laden with monsters and mystery--your only weapon is a magic marker that can manipulate the environment to navigate difficult pathways and conquer complex problems. Featuring devilishly creative puzzles and intense action sequences set in gorgeous environments, The Curse of Brotherhood is a platformer that's just as challenging as it is charming.
Max’s magic marker is the fulcrum of the story. Over time, it gains the ability to move the earth, create tree branches and vines, power plumes of water, and shoot fireballs. All of these abilities combine wonderfully with one another, giving Max just enough tools to move from one tough spot to the next, even if it’s not readily apparent exactly how to make that happen. The puzzles are punctuated by moments of sheer terror, as an array of fantastical monsters chase Max through ever-changing environments. Nearly perfect timing is required to avoid catastrophe. Each area has its own unique, hostile creatures, which take on the characteristics of their environment, such as a lumbering rock beast in the desert and fire-spewing giant inside a volcano. The penalties for falling into their grasp include being swallowed whole, crushed like a bug, or burned to a crisp. Luckily, Max’s constant deaths are never bloody or disturbing; that would damage the overall charm of the game.