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Review

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • X360

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a dark, emotionally charged adventure that's a masterclass in doing more with less.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons begins and ends with death--and what's in between certainly has its fair share of dark, dysphoric moments. So, as one might expect from such morbid subject matter, this isn't the kind of game you can just play for an hour and expect to wash over you. There's a certain amount of emotional investment required to get the most out of A Tale of Two Sons' grand adventure, but--despite a few slip-ups along the way--it's more than worth it. There are moments here that can squeeze a tear from the iciest of souls, or leave you gawking at the screen in amazement. It's a story that's told with heart, elegance, and a lightness of touch that make exploring the vast vistas of its fairy-tale world utterly bewitching.

Part of the charm of its story lies in what it doesn't tell you. There's no discernible dialogue, for instance, with only a Simlish-esque garble for you to interpret. There's no text either, and cutscenes are used sparingly; more is done with less here than most narrative-driven games would ever dare to attempt. The opening scene, a grand sweeping camera pan onto a brother in tears by a gravestone, sets the tone. From then on you're at the mercy of garbled dialogue and the expressive mannerisms of the two starring brothers to push you on to finding a cure for your debilitated father. Shoulder shrugs, the odd pointing of a finger, and the concerned yells of the brothers keep you on the right path.

You certainly need guidance too, as navigating the pair through the Nordic-inspired world is a challenge on both a cerebral and technical level. The latter is due to your ability to move the brothers independently of each other using each analogue stick. This is very much akin to trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time--a tricky task, and even when you do manage it, chances are you won't be able to do it again five minutes later. It's a clumsy experience that you never quite master. But it's that very clumsiness that has been cleverly exploited to create puzzles.

The puzzles themselves aren't all that difficult to decipher, but the challenge comes from actually performing the required solutions. They start off simple enough, relying on the individual strengths of each sibling; the smaller one can squeeze through tight gaps to open doors for his brother, for instance, while the larger one's brute strength lets him pull large switches and activate bridges. Soon, though, you're forced to think a little differently; often this means splitting the brothers up.

For instance, you might have to use one brother to pull a set of chains while the other clings on for dear life and hops off at just the right moments to avoid obstacles. An inspired climbing section sees you swinging the brothers from each other via a piece of rope onto different hand grips. This makes them sit on opposite sides of the screen compared to their corresponding thumbsticks, making it very tricky to try to swing them back again. It's a challenge that messes with your head as you perform all manner of confusing finger gymnastics to see the pair safely to their destination.

The brothers are certainly put through a lot in what is a relatively short three-hour experience. But it's the close scrapes, the wonderfully eccentric characters they meet along the way, and the sheer enormity of their undertaking as they scale vast mountains and take on vicious beasts that further strengthen the relationship between the brothers, and indeed yours with them. And remember that it's all accomplished without a word of proper dialogue, and nary a hint of drawn-out exposition in sight, a testament to the tight direction and grand cinematic feel that envelop each and every frame.

That's the true aim of A Tale of Two Sons. Sure, the puzzles are suitably challenging and mighty clever in places, and the imposing environments are beautifully realised, but it's all there to build those emotional ties, and create moments that hit you right in the pit of your stomach. Brevity is the only real misstep here, and you can't help but feel that with a little more time to build up the characters those emotional highs would have an even greater impact. But it's not enough to detract from what is a great achievement: an ambitious, emotionally affecting adventure that's short, but oh so sweet.

The Good
Expertly told story
Grand, beautiful visuals
Clever puzzles that flex the mind and fingers
Heart-melting moments
The Bad
Short length leaves too little time to connect with the lead characters
8
Great
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Discussion

383 comments
dedoporno
dedoporno

"begins and ends with death"? Really? This is how a review is supposed to start? I'm glad I came here to see what people think AFTER I completed this piece of story-telling art. And yes, the game is short, but I for one had enough time to start caring for both lead characters, because I took my time with them, their adventure, their different ways of dealing with the stuff they encounter and so on. The game is brilliant!

ShimmerMan
ShimmerMan

AHah wot is happening with this review... they should of edited this long time ago. Was going to buy the game but honestly as the game is short and mainly focused on the story. And now that I know both the beginning and the ending of the game before I've even started to play it, what's the point?

VincentAntonio
VincentAntonio

 Thank you for the spoiler, why someone with so little common sense and lack of etiquette is writing reviews?

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

Even if a tragic ending was predictable, why you would choose to write about it in the review is beyond me

Mangaas
Mangaas

Dear Mark Walton,  please never review a game again.

Sincerely,
-everyone who doesn't want the ending of a game spoiled, without warning, within the FIRST sentence of a review.

G'day

raver_mark
raver_mark

People read a review before they play a game thats the point of a review. Why in the world would you give away the ending.

I just dont understand this guys logic or thinking.

the whole point and experience of this game is lost after reading this review.


raver_mark
raver_mark

worest review ever. Who ruins a whole game by telling the end in the first 10 seconds of a review. A moron.

what a waste of a game.

yossimitsu
yossimitsu

full of soul, this game. I loved it. so sad and sweet!

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

 God this game was so good its left me speechless.I'v played nearly all next gen titles and this for me was truly next-gen,although it wasn't even there on next gen machines... The thing they did with one controller controlling two characters made me go,,,whoa!!,(and i haven't gone whoa in a quite a while in video games)...i mean next gen should be about new ways of playing and immersion,not about better renders and dynamic shadow effects on guns.

The rest of the companies spewing out generic games like potato chips, should take a lesson from this seemingly modest game. 

A triumph of a game and my personal game of the year, this game has restored my hopes on the potential of gaming...and it's for $5...!!!, fuck you 60$ games!!!..

tomouse84
tomouse84

The spoiler in this review robbed me of some of the emotional impact at the end of the game. Once you're expecting it.. you're waiting for it. A bit of a shame. All in all a sweet game.

joey2010
joey2010

Just ONE (Not so serious) down side and the game gets an 8? DEAR LORD!

samus_my_life
samus_my_life

such a great game i'll never forget it :) 


love it 

Ahmed_Abdelatif
Ahmed_Abdelatif

Does anyone need to tell GS staff the meaning of the word spoiler ?

juboner
juboner

waaah u ruined my xbox arcade experience that was 5$

skrypa
skrypa

This game is simply a peace of art.. the music, visuals, voice acting and story are beatifuly put in sintony..It is the only game I remember that put a smile on my face and at the same time tears in my eyes..I cant recomemd it enought!Just play it without a hurry and enjoy every single vista and moment!Besides, the achievements on steam were very meaningfull, dont forget to try them!

iBuSHiDo
iBuSHiDo

Oh man, I just finished this game like 10 minutes ago. I wanted to see what people had said about it. Glad I played it before seeing the review. It's definitely in my top ten for the year. I want to say it's a great little game, but at the same time it did feel like a big adventure, even though I beat it in roughly 3 hours. It was a little tricky at times to control them both, but nothing you can't handle if you stop and recalibrate yourself for a sec. I also really loved how they used that mechanic later in the game in such a powerful and meaningful way. It's definitely a short and sweet kinda game. I do feel that if it were just a bit longer so that they could have developed the characters just a bit more then it might have made it even better, but at the same time I liked how some things were vague and how the dialog is left for you to feel rather than literally interpret. So I can't say I'd definitely prefer either more or just enough, but as it is I really enjoyed it and hope to see more games made with such a focused vision. 

Bowser05
Bowser05

I agree with this review 100%. I bought it based on what Mark wrote...and I don't regret it at all. Beautiful game. I would like to ask that you don't express spoilers though, Mark. With how emotionally charged the game is...a statement like your first sentence ruins the whole ending. I'd highly appreciate it as would many others if you at least rephrased that.

FinalFighters
FinalFighters

i just beat the game today. Man, that was a sad tale. i cried a little..but overall it was fantastic. 9/10

meatz666
meatz666

Thx for the spoiler, asshole.

fend_oblivion
fend_oblivion

Easily one of the best games I've played this year. If it weren't for that stupid spoiler in this review, I could have enjoyed the game better. This is like someone spoiling The Usual Suspects before you watch it.

RHA09
RHA09

This game deserve 10 if they added more levels. I gave it 9.5. Ooh 9.9 if possible

leeti
leeti

Definitely one of the best games I've played recently. Beautiful and fun.

Arther-la-Blunt
Arther-la-Blunt

I consider the first sentence to be a major spoiler.

franzito
franzito

Just read Chris' article, wow! Worth checking.

Gegglington
Gegglington

great game one of the best this yr just is it just me but controlling the brothers i seem to revert into playing a 3rd person fps type of thing im like snap out of it end up wanting to control the little bro with the left stick when needed

olleost
olleost

You just spoiled this game with your spoiler. Now i will spoil it too...

Andyf1ghter
Andyf1ghter

What sort of an idiot starts a review with a huge spoiler?


Wolfkcing
Wolfkcing

Played it. Loved it. But why is this review still here with a big a** spoiler in it? was this half a**ed clever line worth possibly spoiling the game for everyone? What's going Gamespot?

ashdragon1
ashdragon1

Begins and Ends with death is the start of the Video?? Seriously? Were the first words coming from your mouth, i automatically stopped watching the video right then.  Way to F up a Review video!  If someone hasnt seen a new movie you dont tell them the ending right away Jerk.  worst review of the year automatically. This and the guy that did the ducktales review.  In fact I dont trust Gamespot with reviews anymore, you need an entire new team of reviewers!

Wolfkcing
Wolfkcing

looking at the comments and having watched the review video I'm still not sure if that was a spoiler there right off the bat or not. Maybe it becomes very obvious? I don't know. I'm reluctant to spend another second on this page now looking at comments or the review.

 but if it was a spoiler I have to say I am very freaking disappointed gamespot.

LordCrash88
LordCrash88

Sounds good, but I'll wait for the PC version. :)

jefferson1964
jefferson1964

why would the ending to the story be the first thing in the article....

fatherofsword
fatherofsword

What is it with spoilers in GS? first it's Kevin (which I don't watch his reviews because of the spoilers) and now this idiot just spoiled the ending in the beginning of the video?!! WTF?!

mikz_nyc
mikz_nyc

@raver_mark  Thank God i didn't read the review yet,i came straight down to comments,sorry to hear that man

Renoo27
Renoo27

@tomouse84  Agreed. I can imagine that being annoying. It's why I don't read/watch reviews of games I'm already intrigued by. 

disneyskate
disneyskate

Lol, shut up. Just because he only mentions one downside doesn't mean there aren't more, and it doesn't mean it deserves a 10. Even if it were all positive, that doesn't make it amazing enough to be a 10. It's a great game and all, but with the short length and disconnected story (although it's still well told), it's certainly not perfect.

neroist
neroist

@jubonerYeah experience full of heart, soul, beauty, and originality. This game has more of those then any Nintendo game ever made...for just $5.

iwannagoflorida
iwannagoflorida

@iBuSHiDo I totally agree with the dual stick mechanic and how they utilized it in the later part of the game.  Very powerful stuff.  I just beat the game ten minutes ago and now I'm gonna go curl in a ball and cry.  

Arther-la-Blunt
Arther-la-Blunt

@ashdragon1 I agree that the review starts with a spoiler, but the worst review of the year goes to McShea for the Last of Us.

ashdragon1
ashdragon1

@fatherofsword as of now i dont trust these idiots with doing any reviews,  i used to like them but definitely not recently, id like to see an apology letter on their main page for this crap, but we all know they wont as most companies dont take this to heart or care.

disneyskate
disneyskate

No, no it doesn't. That's just stupid. The story is great, but like the reviewer said, you really don't connect with the characters," because of the short length, and that leaves much to be desired, especially in some of the more emotional scenes. Zelda is more emotionally connecting and filled with soul, especially Twilight Princess.

fatherofsword
fatherofsword

@ashdragon1 @fatherofsword I agree, I used to look forward to their reviews, now I try to avoid them until I play the game, unless it's a game I don't know anything about.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has players take on the role of two sons must set out on a perilous journey to bring back the Water of Life to their ailing father.
    8.5
    Average User RatingOut of 421 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
    Developed by:
    Starbreeze
    Published by:
    505 Games, Spike Chunsoft
    Genres:
    3D, Open-World, Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Violence