Review: Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons for iPhone, iPad
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a refreshing game in story and in gameplay. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, as the action is puzzle and coordination oriented, and the story is…shall we just call it “not a happy one?” It begins with the death of the boys’ mother, as the youngest is unable to prevent her from drowning. We then learn that the father is very ill, and only the “Water of Life” can save him.
This water, of course, is very far way, and the boys—Naia and Naiee—must journey there alone to get it. Because, you know, if there’s some kind of magic water out there that can cure the dying, you wouldn’t want to bottle some of it and keep it handy at the local apothecary.
And so, off the boys go to face dangers both geological and living. Many are Tomb Raider-esque in their design, in that something like lowering a bridge shouldn’t be this difficult (or require sheep), but that’s what makes it fun. The unique spin here is that you control both of the brothers at the same time; one with a virtual d-pad on the left, the other on the right.
I continually found it difficult to remember which thumb had which brother, often causing them to scatter about like those little plastic dudes on an electric football board. Thankfully, the developers took this into account and 1.) made it impossible to fall from ledges (of which there are many), and 2.) only inserted a few levels that require expert control.
Aside from using the d-pads to move the brothers around, they’re also used to grab and swing from vines and ropes, turn cranks, pilot hang gliders, etc. Just when you think you’ve tackled everything the game can throw at you, the developers bring in something new for the brothers to get past, including some very unique boss battles. None of them are hard to figure out; the real challenge is in working with the brothers simultaneously to get where you need to be.
The story also continues to toss curveballs at you, all without any dialogue. The landscape changes in ways you won’t expect (and often without explanation), and the characters you meet—friendly and otherwise—let you know there’s more happening here than is relevant to Naia and Naiee’s immediate quest. And that they mostly didn’t (or couldn’t) get involved was quite refreshing. For instance, late in the game the landscape is littered with the corpses of giant warriors. All the brothers (and therefore the gamers) do with them is use their weapons to clear massive body parts from their path…and acknowledge their stinky feet.
The game is not entirely creepy and depressing, however. Naia and Naiee often goof off as brothers will, and they do a lot of good along their way, helping out humans, animals and…other beings. They also have some pretty trippy dreams…
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons doesn’t score your performance or reward you along the way, but it does give you some achievements to accomplish that aren’t necessary for game’s completion. Be sure you read these before you start playing or you’re likely to miss them along the way. I mean, what kind of jerk would think to drop that kid’s ball down the well?
Unfortunately, there are also some glitches that hurt the experience, such as the ability to get stuck in the environment and have to restart from the last checkpoint. I’ve also read complaints that Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is too short, but I feel it ended at just about the right time from both a plot and overall experience standpoint. The story comes its conclusion nicely, and too much more time with these dual controls and the puzzles would’ve worn out their welcome. Your time within the game will be somewhat short, yes (around five or six hours), but it’s a beautiful place to be during that time, and you won’t regret the journey.
Seller: 505 Games
Requirements: iOS 6.0 or later
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (see iTunes store for model requirements)
Availability: Now at the iTunes App Store