Brothers- A Tale of Two Sons PS4

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About a year ago ColonelFancy and I were talking about the next co-op for Tekizen and I to tackle, when he brought up a game I had never heard of, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. I was a bit put off by this suggestion as he began to explain the premise. I was looking for a couch co-op, not a single player co-op. For that matter what in the heck is a single player co-op…doesn’t that entirely defeat the purpose? I could work with myself, but really could I? Little did I know that a little over a year later this little indie game would be one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had in my long history of gaming.

There will be spoilers near the end of this review, there will be another warning before that point. You have been warned.

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What makes brothers so unique is the way the player controls both siblings simultaneously. The older brother, Naia is controlled by the left analogue stick and corresponding trigger button. The younger brother, Naiee is controlled by the right analogue stick and matching trigger. The controls are simple, but if you ever tried patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time, then you know how tough this actually is. Little Brother spent a lot of time running into walls. Using the right analogue stick for movement was awkward for quite awhile. Getting used to this was the cruelest trick a game has EVER played on me.

Brothers : a Tale of Two Sons_20160921175454One of the cool things about the world of Brothers is the way they interact with it. The trigger buttons are used to interact with all manner of things. Each boy will react to things differently. Often the older of the two acts more mature, while the younger is a bit of a prankster. There are various animals, items, and denizens of the world to play around with. It is a bit fun experimenting with what you are allowed to do here. You can even sit on benches to view beautiful landscapes.

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It gets a little crazy when the game forces you to use both analogue sticks, as well as both triggers at the same time. This happens occasionally when both brothers are climbing, or solving some puzzles. It is ridiculous, fun, and feels pretty rewarding when you achieve what you were attempting to pull off. I died more than once, because I accidentally let go of a button. The game makes rules for how things work, and then breaks those same rules to keep you guessing. I was continuously adapting to the next situation.

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The story starts off on a simple premise, the two sons take their ailing father to the local healer only to find that he is dying. Yet there is hope. If the boys can bring back water from the Tree of Life, their father can be healed. Of course this is no easy feat. The boys must go on long journey, and overcome obstacles of grand proportions to succeed.

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Along the way the brothers meet a handful of interesting characters that will help, or hinder their progress accordingly. Most of these characters have their own story to tell. It is simply magical saving them, or giving them hope to go on.

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Brothers has its own language, one that we are not meant to understand. I feel that this keeps the game from being bogged down by needless dialogue. The way the characters speak, their body language, and context in the game tell you what you need to know, and sometimes more than you want to. Their interactions are both heart warming, and heart breaking. On the note of language, it is speculated that Naia and Naiee are their names, because they say this to one another often. I am not entirely convinced that it doesn’t literally mean “older brother” or “younger brother”. I do like the way it sounds though, so I went with it anyway. I don’t feel like there is a single scene in this game that would have been more powerful with an understandable script.

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There is so much of this game that is left to the imagination. What they are actually saying isn’t the only mystery. In Brothers it feels as though the characters are a part of the world, as opposed to the world being there for them. In so many games the world seems to interact with the characters, not vice versa. You go to a place, and a thing happens. That happens here too, but there are many places that they will visit in which the “thing” has already happened. The brothers merely witness the results. The player is left wondering why this particular thing happened. The narrative never tells you, you simply or imagine the possibilities. It is left up to the player.

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Each chapter features new challenges. Some are straight up platforming levels, whereas others have you solving puzzles. The game continues to change this up all the way through. Every single level is designed to make the brothers work together. It is not only integral to the story, but to the overall experience. Neither character is more important than the other. I feel like these two are very close as siblings. The entire game comes off like the fall of trust game. If you don’t know how this works, typically one person falls backward with the trust that one or more behind them will catch them. These two clearly put a lot of faith in each other.

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As the story unfolds, tugging on the heart strings along the way, a beautiful soundtrack plays in the background. Each track clearly conveys the emotion that it wants you to feel. Sometimes it is joyful, others it is downright haunting. I can still hear “that one” song tormenting me days later. Now that I know the name of it I know why.

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Above all else where Brothers truly excels is the experience you have playing it. As I played I had a blast solving puzzles, climbing ledges, and befriending trolls. There were moments where I loved the game, and moments where I loved it more. There was even a point playing it where I turned to Tekizen and said ” Man I love this game!”, and mere seconds later I was tearing up and telling her “Dammit, I hate this game!” Even when the game pushed at my emotional boundaries I was still entirely on board. I am actually eager to play it again.

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While gushing about the game to ColonelFancy I learned that he had only played the demo, so I promptly sent him my copy off to him. I also mildly berated him for recommending this emotional smorgasbord without properly warning me what I was about to venture into. I told him that this game was easily a 9/10, but as I thought about it more I couldn’t see a reason to deduct that single point. In my mind Brothers is perfect so my final score is a solid 10/10.

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If you want to know more I am not done yet, but below there be serious spoilers. If you have not finished this game I highly recommend that you do so before reading this next bit. Everyone else, this way please. V

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The world of Brothers is interesting indeed. It starts off bright and colorful, a whimsical magical world, but as you proceed it gets gradually duller. As the game progresses the world takes a very grim turn. I had spoken about situations that are left up to your imagination.

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These are two that come to mind. The battle of the giants.

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As well as the frozen village at war. What happened in these places? I have my guesses, but it is very cool that the game never fleshes these out. It is very akin to travelling to a neighboring town. You see it as it is, but you don’t know about its day to day proceedings. You know there are people involved, but you don’t know them.

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As for the characters that you meet, and the feelings attached to them, here are a couple of situations where I felt strongly for them. It didn’t take a flashy cut scene, or an Oscar worthy script, just some characters interacting on a basic level. This first one is the troll that helped you near the beginning. He was willing to help, but wanted your help in return. His lady was in distress (and bees). She needed our help. It wasn’t this, but when they met back up that was amazing. I was sooo happy for them.

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The next one was a fellow who wanted out. His family died in a fire, and he had nothing left. We gave him hope. It was terribly sad.

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Each of these scenarios brought tears to eyes, and each one only got more intense. The third was my little griffon friend. I saved him from death in a cage. He showed us with a ride through the clouds how grateful he was for his freedom, only to die seconds later. I was mortified. This was the moment that I loved and hated this game in quick succession.

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This is your absolute last chance to back out!

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Really though, I created this spoiler portion because I wanted to talk about the impact this game had on me. It was a feeling that I had never experienced before, and likely never will again. There have been many games in the past where I have mourned the loss of a character, but never like this. Brothers spends the entire game forcing you to work together. You have to learn to control that rascally little brother with that right stick.

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By the end of the game playing both brothers feels entirely natural, so when they remove Naia from the equation you are left with only the right stick. It is awkward all over again, and through your connection with the controller you literally feel the loss of your sibling. It feels as though your right arm has been removed. It is heartbreaking in way that I don’t feel can be explained. It has to be experienced.

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It still only gets better. Naiee is forced to return alone. Early in the story we learn that he is deathly afraid of water. He was unable to save his drowning mother, and water is nothing less than traumatizing to him. When he gets back to the river near the village he can’t cross it. He cries and looks for another way, but there isn’t one. The game gives you no clues, but after awhile I pushed the left trigger. I don’t know why. I just did. I heard Naia’s voice, and Naiee started to swim. With the strength of his brother he overcame his greatest fear. The last half hour of this game was overwhelming, and beautiful. Watching the younger brother grow along the way, and seeing this play out was simply amazing.

A few other thoughts and confessions.

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About Topiki

I am a crazy anime fangirl. I love music, movies, and video games. I frequently attend concerts, and conventions. I make all my own cosplay. (Which is a work in progress) My biggest hobby however is collecting solid tangible things. Cds, dvds, figures of all shapes and sizes, cards, and any other random related goods.
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One Response to Brothers- A Tale of Two Sons PS4

  1. Tekizen says:

    I know that I really should play this game, but having had watched you play it I just can’t make myself deal with that level of emotional stress.

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