Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Jesus Christ.

Brothers is beautiful and underappreciated. Over the course of its story it does things I’ve never seen a game do. It communicates things through the experience of play that old art forms literally can’t communicate. The gameplay and puzzles are quite basic, as it relies on old hallmarks of 3D platforming, and it’s expected that players will struggle just to walk around. But as a storytelling device, the gimmick is used masterfully. It’s a rare example of true interactive storytelling.

Penny Arcade said as much. I figured they were overhyping it: they said good things about Bravely Default, and that was, well, not the best. And I never heard anyone I knew talk about the game, so I assumed it would just be kind of good. But no. I feel that playing Brothers is mandatory for anyone with a Steam library. There’s not a lot I should try to say about it, but I hope others will understand the intent by the end of the game and it will move them as it moved me. I choked up by the time I was done.

What I can freely say is that the environments are gorgeous. Paddling a boat through a half-frozen river, I found myself stunned by the beauty of my surroundings. When we (we? that’s interesting: my pronouns are changing) moved through the aftermath of a great battle between giants–as with the Milky Way, seeing a giant always seems to trivialize one’s personal concerns–it occurred to me that the level of wordless world-building may be on par with what Dark Souls does, if not in fact directly inspired by it. That said, having to work so much harder for it in Dark Souls is part of its own distinct power as a game–kind of like what the music in Super Hexagon does–which has little to do with how Brothers finds its own success.

This game is amazing, and whatever flaws it has, it is a mandatory experience for anyone whose tastes are similar to the reviewer’s. Things like frequent crashes or graphical issues do not even begin to make a dent on this score, because the soul of this game contains something eternal. It approaches perfection.

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