Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – Preview, Video & Interview
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a new title that looks to follow in the footsteps of the likes of The Unfinished Swan and Journey, combining a bite-sized slice of karmic game-play with an unusual control mechanism. PS3 Attitude were invited to see the game and meet the man behind it.
Before we get into the game, let’s talk about Josef Fares for a moment. Born in Beirut in 1977 and now living in Sweden, Fares has been directing feature films for the last 13 years to great acclaim, winning the Crystal-Simorgh award along the way. In 2006, Variety declared him one of ten upcoming directors to watch out for, and that same year he won the Nordic Council Film Prize for his film Zozo.
So we know two things about Fares already. He’s old enough to have enjoyed the halcyon days of 16-bit games, and he knows how to construct a story for the camera with award-winning effect. What, then, can he bring to the world of video games?
First of all, Fares is very clear with us that this is no ‘film director endorsement’.
“I have been involved in everything with this game – 100%. I know a lot of directors have been getting into the world of video games, but in reality they are just putting their name on the title. I’ve put everything into the game. I’ve been involved in it from the start through the development and on to the delivery”, Fares tells us.
And you can see a lot of pointers in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons that fit well with the mind of a movie director.
First of all, the downloadable title has around three or four hours of game-play, and Fares wants you to play it through in one sitting – just as you would when watching a long movie. This alone helps to strengthen the parallels with Journey.
“I want people to play it once. I don’t want them to keep on playing it again and again. It is designed to be a one-off experience” Fares explains. Again, this is exactly what you would expect from someone so used to creating cinema-bound consumables.
Moreover, everything in the game is accessible and stripped back. The story. The controls. The look and feel.
Let’s take you through the basic concepts for a moment. In Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons you play two characters at the same time. You have an older brother and a younger one and you move them around in a unique way. One is controlled on the left analogue stick, and the other is controlled on the right. That’s it.
You also use two triggers for all interactions. The ‘left-sticked’ brother is on the left trigger. You can guess which trigger controls the brother on the right.
That’s it. No mess. No fuss. No buttons. No complexity.
Moving the two characters simultaneously is not as difficult as it sounds either. We found it particularly easy to control, not once getting confused or stressed by the mechanism.
Visually, the game looks superb. The characters are slightly ‘cartoonish’ but still lifelike, and the environment is lush, colourful and vibrant.
The story is simple but effective too. Your father is clinging on to his life and you have a chance to save him if you can find the ‘water of life’ and return with it. What ensues is a classic journey of discovery, with both brothers using their relative skills and personality traits to solve the pitfalls and obstacles in their way. Oh look – we said Journey again…
Although only lasting a few hours, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons moves along at a comfortable pace. Although we know from the footage we were shown that it does get a little dark and frantic at times, Brothers is full of opportunities to interact with dozens of beautifully crafted NPCs along the road to the ultimate goal. Many of these come with mini challenges and achievements.
For example, when playing through the first twenty minutes, we found ourselves in a hollow that had four black rabbits, one white rabbit and an extinguished camp fire. You could clearly see that the black rabbits were afraid of the white rabbit and constantly ran away from him. This gave us a good opportunity to notice how the two brothers are different to each other in both personality and capability.
The older brother shoos the white rabbit away, whereas the younger brother picks him up by the ears. Of course, you can just walk around with the rabbit and scare the other rabbits away, but that isn’t the karmic way now, is it? A quick visit to the extinguished fire solves the problem for everyone. Pressing the trigger dunks the white rabbit in the ashes and on releasing the now black rabbit, everyone gets along just fine.
That small example gives you a little window into the breadth of interaction in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. When you interact with anything or anyone using either brother, you get not just different results, but you begin to uncover their alternative approaches to life. We won’t spoil the surprises for you here by explaining more – you’ll just have to play it for yourself to see everything the game has to offer.
While Brothers looks very ‘current gen’ in terms of graphics and sound, the mechanics and game-play remind us of a time when they were more important to success than what your games looked or sounded like. That, it appears, is not by accident.
“My inspiration for Brother is born from the world of 16-bit games, like Chrono Trigger and Another World, where it was more about good mechanics to keep you interested, not thousands of character or weapon customisation options to maintain your attention”, Fares explains.
“I also love the way that current studios like Naughty Dog tell stories and understand that as a key element of creating great video games”, Fares continues. “I’ve tried to draw on what made those games excellent, and I hope it shows”.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is certainly looking like a great downloadable title, and has been developed by Starbreeze Studios (the people behind The Darkness and the forthcoming Payday 2). It will be published by 505 Games in the ‘Spring’, with an expected May release date.
Get a feel for the game yourself with this fresh game-play video and then tell us what you think in the comments below…