True adventure games are few and far between these days. Therefore, when something like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons comes along, we stand up and take notice. Developed by Syndicate and Chronicles of Riddick developer Starbreeze Studios, the game features the somber and noble quest of two sons, who are seeking a cure for their dying father. Only the "Water of Life" can save him and the intriguing part is that the two sons must compensate for each other's weaknesses. The press release said that "one must be strong where the other is weak, brave where the other is fearful."
Starbreeze has teamed up with Swedish filmmaker Josef Fares to produce a challenging, heartfelt adventure. There is no violence. There is no gore. And in fact, it goes beyond the standard realm of adventure games by putting you in charge of two characters at the same time. Each son is controlled by each analog stick, and you will navigate them through a series of puzzles via asymmetrical cooperation. Personally, I'm wondering if that will prove awkward; we're so used to playing games where the left stick moves and the right stick looks, that to have two characters' movements assigned to each stick could be…disconcerting.
But if that works as fluidly as one would hope, this could end up being a memorable game. Each puzzle is very different, so each will require you to think along different strategic lines. For instance, one brother might need to distract an angry guard dog while the other brother moves forward, or you might end up using a sheep to run a treadmill, which ultimately powers a drawbridge. Each brother will have a separate "interact" button in addition to their movement, and that sounds simple enough. In addition to the challenging and diverse puzzles, those who appreciate solid characters and story will love the personality and ambiance.
The two brothers really are quite different— the eldest is a little more responsible and practical, while the younger is more extroverted and a tad rash. You must balance the two personalities to solve the puzzles you face, and I find this highly intriguing. If you take a ball from a little girl with the older brother, he'll play catch with her. If you take the ball with the younger brother, he'll think it's funny to toss it down a nearby well. At the same time, the younger son also has a way with animals and is musically gifted. And while the adventure will only amount to about four or five hours, I'm certain you'll become quite intimate with these two characters.
Lastly, there's the beautiful visual display. The presentation appears to be downright gorgeous and the setting is charming and pristine. There's so little like this in video games today, and it kinda tugs at the ol' heartstrings. Heavy Rain had a similar effect but there was definitely some potentially offensive material. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons looks to be harmless, and an intellectual, touching quest to boot. If you've grown tired of shooting everything in sight, or you find yourself pining for something that isn't quite as dark and gritty, give this a try. It'll be downloadable on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live some time this summer.