User Rating: 8 | Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons X360

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a beautiful and sometimes darkly mature echo of the fairy tales that taught us about the world as children. Throughout the journey of two siblings trying to save their dying father, I experienced themes of death and acceptance that hit me on an extremely personal level, visited fascinating dreamlike locations, and interacted with the world in completely unique ways. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is unconventional twin-stick adventure controls often tripped me up along the way, this short storybook walkabout is as attractive as it is affecting. Much of Brothers’ charm lies in its keen skill at nonverbal storytelling. The characters speak in an imaginary and incomprehensible language without subtitles, so it’s up to us to glean information by exploring and interacting with the gorgeous environment. Each area, character, and object contains its own piece of the story, and it's up to you to assemble those bits as you progress through your journey. Sadly, the characters aren't crafted with the same visual love as the world itself. This isn't too big of a problem when the camera is zoomed out a bit, but anytime I was forced to take a close look at a character model pulled me out of the experience quite quickly. Thankfully these close-ups don’t occur very often, and when they do, Brothers quickly replies with something new and amazing. I also adore the brothers' simple, context-sensitive interactions. Because each sibling has a unique set, both feel distinctly quirky. Interacting with a harp reveals that the younger sibling is a musical savant, while the older one couldn't hold a tune to save his life. Similarly, the little brother takes a more playful approach to the environment, while his big brother clearly has his eye on the task at hand. These brief, optional moments of silent characterization perfectly summarize the level of unique storytelling that only video games can accomplish. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons tells a suite of painfully personal and unique stories set in a gorgeous world. It’s a unique twin-stick adventure brimming with imagination that shows in its art and dual-action puzzles. Though it has its fair share of control frustrations, the risky design decisions it does nail help make this game one of my most memorable of 2013.