A tragedy filled with beauty and a delight for the little things.

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

Brothers: A Tale of Two sons checks off a lot of boxes on my list of things that make a great game: innovative gameplay, great storytelling, gorgeous visuals and a good soundtrack.

Controlling both brothers at once is this game's biggest novelty and one that I never tired of in my 3.4 hours with it. One aspect of controlling both that I didn't anticipate is that it aids in making you as the player feel more connected to both of them. Each brother also has a unique personality that shows up in what gameplay actions each one can and can't take. For example, the older brother can boost the younger one up to the top of a tall ledge and then the younger one can drop down a rope. Even in optional environmental interactions (like blowing into a huge horn) each boy has a different response.

The inclusion of these little details reminds me of the sense of childlike wonder that Studio Ghibli (Hayao Miyazaki) movies do so well to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. It's incredible to me how clear of a story and how rich of a world the developers were able to get across entirely nonverbally. There are voices in the game but it is all in a very simplistic, fictional language. Their meaning is conveyed sufficiently through voice tone and body language. The world itself tells its own story and made me feel like I knew plenty of the lore surrounding it, again, all without words.

It certainly helps that a game so focused on visual storytelling also has great art design. There are numerous benches throughout the game that you can direct the boys to sit on. When you do the camera pans out to show off some impressive vistas. In most games I couldn't be bothered to go sit on a bench yet here I made it a point to seek out each one. The soundtrack packs an emotional punch during major scenes but can be very quiet or absent during others.

With so much positive to say about the game I do have a few negatives. There are a few points where the gameplay gets repetitive. For example you'll climb up numerous cliffs, nets, root balls, etc. and none are particularly challenging or exciting. In general though, they do a pretty good job of changing things up as the game progresses. I also encountered a bug in the PC version of the game where two elevator cranks you'll encounter in the game operate VERY slowly. We're talking roughly 2 minutes for the first one and 3 minutes for the second before you can continue on with the game. You cannot bypass these. Finally, I wasn't much of a fan of the overall tragic tone of the game. I don't mind dark themes but I like them to have a purpose for being a downer besides trying to be different or to tack extra emotional impact to a scene. This is perhaps an area where the nonverbal storytelling is a weakness because I couldn't discern enough purpose to warrant Brothers' somber tone.