Brothers: A Tale of Mediocrity

This past Tuesday, the new free game on offer through Playstation Plus was an Indie title by the name of “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons”. I recall reading praise for the game, Metacritic has it scored at an 86/100 (excellent by most definitions) and the user ratings are hovering at 8.5/10. This is one of the many times I have seen a score not reflect my feelings for a game, but this just seems like everyone is being far too generous. Typically my feelings go the other way, where a game that scores low is actually a gem.Creating a game is no easy task, and I know that project development takes time, money and manpower to accomplish — all of this before actually getting to work. Developers don’t green light something unless it seems like a good idea, and in turn will make the company a profit. I fail to see what the grand scheme here was; I am lost as to what everyone else is so in love with.

Let’s start with the normal breakdown:

The graphics are stylized, in that they are somewhat cartoonish, but still realistic enough. There are some fantasy tropes (orcs, ogres (or are they trolls?)), and they are many cut scenes intertwined through the adventure. Overall I liked the art direction, even if it was a little too cute/family-friendly/G-rated. This is probably the best part of the game when it comes down to it, as I have complaints everywhere else.

There’s gonna be spoilers here, fair warning. This game isn’t new, so the story has been out there for a long time, if you haven’t played the game and want to see for yourself, skip this section. The story in this game is a bit hard to follow. I’m not entirely sure if the designers are from another country and as such the language being spoken is foreign, but for the most part it seems like gibberish. Not to sound insensitive to other languages, but it really sounds like gibberish. This leaves the player to infer what is really going on. Hand gestures are great, and I am smart enough to infer what is happening, but regardless of if a different language is being spoken or it is just gibberish, I feel like it broke the immersion. I think subtitles would have been in order, or some narration, anything really. It irritated the shit out of me having to guess why we were climbing a castle in the middle of nowhere, or helping sea turtles reunite with their mother. Anyway, you are two brothers, your mom died when the little bro failed to rescue her from drowning, and your Dad is sick. You have to go on a journey to get some shit and make him better. That’s the arc in a nutshell. There is talk of how the game is emotionally charged, and that people who have played through it were “touched” in some way. I felt absolutely nothing. Perhaps I’m a cold-hearted bastard, or perhaps I’ve seen all of these tired cliches before. There wasn’t anything here that made me feel connected to the characters. Add in the fact that the game clocks in a 3 hours to complete and there’s absolutely no replay value (unless you want to play for trophies), and this story was mediocre at best.

The gameplay relies on the controller’s two sticks, and two buttons, L2 and R2. As simple as that is, controlling both brothers at once can be challenging at best, frustrating at worst. The concept is neat and all, but when you have to control both brothers through some tight spots, you’ll be lucky to not be throwing your controller. Honestly, I didn’t have that much trouble and I completed the game quickly, but it was still enough to be frustrating. There is no combat, puzzles are pretty easy, but jumping and  climbing are at a premium. Getting the trophies were easy as well, I was at 100% by the end of my 1st playthrough, and have already uninstalled the game.

Overall I can’t say that the game was really worth my time. I don’t think it’s worth yours either. If it wasn’t so short and easy, I wouldn’t have even bothered to complete it. On the plus side, the adventure itself had some high points, some interesting concepts, and was polished enough. I just don’t see the point, so it all fell flat for me. I would give it a 4/10, there really isn’t anything going for it. Did you play the game? What did you think?

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