Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons could be this year's Journey. Just like the wonderful PlayStation exclusive, it's a short but incredibly meaningful adventure that manages to present its storyline without relying on traditional forms of dialogue. The characters do communicate with each other, but only in a garbled, nonsensical language that’s somewhere between Lebanese and Simlish. Despite this, you’ll find yourself understanding exactly what they’re trying to say and empathising with them all the more as a result.
I was initially a little peeved when I realised the game doesn’t support co-operative play, despite appearing to be so perfectly suited for two players. Instead you control both characters yourself using a different analog stick for each brother, and as the puzzles you solve are usually quite straightforward, the challenge comes from trying to direct both brothers through different tasks at the same time.
It’s very satisfying when this goes to plan: Big Brother will rush to pull a lever while Little Brother distracts an enemy before slipping through some railings to escape. With that said, even when you get towards the end of the three-hour adventure, the controls still don’t feel entirely natural. I was forced to stop and get my bearings more often than I would have liked.
Brothers is a game that relies on the player’s understanding. After briefly explaining the setup, it prefers to avoid the abundance of tutorials that other titles rely upon. Big Brother will point you in the right direction if you get lost, but for the most part, you’re presented with challenges and left to get on with it. Fantastic.
There's times where it all suddenly clicks, be that how the hang glider works, or a boat, and you’ll find yourself grinning like an idiot - such moments would have been lessened by a helpful popup. Admittedly the opposite can also be true, but I’ll happily trade 10 minutes of frustration for those brilliant instances where everything just slots into place.
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8 / 10
- It’ll make you sad in a good way
- Tells a story through gameplay rather than dialogue
- Intelligent puzzles that rely on using the brothers’ different skills to succeed
- The controls never feel entirely natural