E3 2013 Preview: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a joyously puzzling adventure
Up until E3, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons wasn't even on my radar. That's actually quite strange as it's exactly the type of title that usually gets my attention. Thankfully, after playing the game at E3, all has been rectified and I am now really looking forward to playing the full game. And if you dig puzzlers, you probably should be, too.
Published by 505 Games and developed by Starbreeze Studios, Brothers is due out exclusively for Microsoft's Summer of Arcade promotion and will launch sometime between July and August.
You take on the role of two siblings, aptly named Big Brother and Little Brother. The duo must set out to seek a cure for their dying father's illness. Each brother has his own strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out how to approach different puzzles with the two is key to progression and survival. Brothers has been compared to Journey in the past, and while I certainly see how some folks would say that, I'd say it reminded me of Papo & Yo just a tad more.
The most intriguing aspect of Brothers is easily its control scheme. All you primarily use are the analog sticks, triggers for the camera, and an action button, but there's still a slight learning curve. The left stick controls Big Brother, while the right stick controls Little Brother. I was able to get the hang of this setup for the most part, but there was a moment where I switched the two from left to right and right to left, and I had to get my bearings and reposition the characters so I could alleviate myself of any confusion.
Of course, I'm not complaining about the controls, nor am I saying that they felt faulty. Quite the contrary, actually. Part of understanding Brothers is grasping the controls. Though they seem simple at first, you have to understand that one stick serves one purpose while the other serves a different purpose.
One of the sequences I played through featured an open area with a guard dog and several platforms. Here, I needed to distract the fierce pup with Little Brother as I sent Big Brother into the guarded area and onto a platform. I then called the dog over to Little Brother and guided Big Brother onto another platform on the far side of the field. I continued this pattern until both brothers were at the other side of that particular area and free from harm.
Another puzzle I tackled featured a high ledge with a damaged ladder made of rope. Big Brother got on all fours and acted as a step for Little Brother, who climbed the top part of the ladder and then dropped a rope for Big Brother to ascend. Along with the dog sequence, these were just two of the simpler puzzles in the game. I was told by a 505 rep that the later parts of this adventure would include more challenging brain-teasers that would put the two characters to work in complex ways.
Thus far, Brothers has received quite a bit of positive press, and there's a reason for that. The game seems like an endeavor with a lot of drive and passion behind it. It's great to see Starbreeze, who previously worked on the Riddick, Darkness, and Syndicate franchises, stepping out of its comfort zone and doing something boldly different. Brothers is definitely on the right track to providing a thoughtful, feel-good experience when it hits Xbox Live Arcade this summer.
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.