Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is not a spectacular looking game. There is little in the way of combat or extensive gameplay mechanics. However, what it does do is make the player feel a certain way. I had the same type of feeling when I played Gone Home earlier this year. This game extracts emotions from the player without it ever feeling pandering. And those emotions are strong.
The setup is that you play as two brothers whose father has become ill. After taking him to the doctor, the only way to save him is to travel far away to retrieve something that is his only hope for survival. One thing of note is that there is no intelligible dialogue in the game. Voice acting sounds like jibberish (think Sim-lish) but you understand what is happening through the characters’ body language and this design choice makes moments more intense than they would be if regularly voiced.
Gameplay is the most unique aspect to Brothers as you control the titular brothers with one controller. The left joystick and left trigger controls the older brother’s movement and actions, respectively, and the same on the right side for the younger brother, and that is it. This does take awhile to become accustomed to and the boys on my playthrough fell more than a few times while platforming. However, throughout the game, this mechanic turns into a bond. I found myself always leading with the older brother just in case there was something dangerous around the next corner. I’m not sure if this was just my mind playing tricks but the older brother seemed to move faster so I would hold the joystick only halfway so that his little brother could keep up. This was a fantastic implementation of this game mechanic and, at the end, it really can affect you.
From a graphical perspective the technical aspects are not overwhelming, but the artistic direction needs to be commended. At the beginning it looks like nothing more than standard fantasy fare, however as the game progresses there are things that I did not expect to happen in terms of locations and the dramatic change in tone from the early minutes of the game.
The music was usually understated but served its purpose in setting the tone for whatever area the brothers might be in whether that was a village or a snowy tundra. As said earlier the voice acting is more sounds than actual words, but much like in the same vein as Journey and Shadow of the Colossus, it is incredibly effective at showing the tone and gravity of any given situation.
Brothers is not a long game with my playthrough being around two hours long, but it was the perfect length. Beyond the main story there is not much else to do once it is finished besides going back and getting any achievements missed on the first playthrough. However, if you are looking for an emotional journey through an interesting and unexpected world, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is worth every penny and is one of the best games to come out this year.