BROTHERS REVIEW

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons Remake Review – Sibling Revelry

Anything for my best bro!

Before Josef Fares was a Game Awards-decorated lead on It Takes Two, and long before he ever voiced his displeasure of the Oscars over a hot microphone, he cut his teeth on a little game called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which was developed by the now-defunct Starbreeze Studios. Unlike Fares’ later works, including A Way Out and the aforementioned award-winning It Takes Two, which have all been built around cooperative play, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons tasked the player with controlling the siblings in tandem, using a novel twin-stick approach to create a sort of “single-player co-op” experience. 

BROTHERS REVIEW

Your objective is to navigate a solemn fairy-tale world controlling both brothers at once. The left stick and trigger controls the older, stronger brother who can utilise his braun, while the right side of the controls is for the younger, more world-weary brother who’s far nimbler and wily. Much of the game’s design is puzzle driven, with the tasks being regularly designed with a turn-based approach in mind as to not overwhelm the player with over-complicated scenarios, including luring and evading a snarling farm dog and trading off being an anchor point for the other brother as they swing on a hip-attached rope.

In its time, it achieved so much through how it handled interaction and drilling home every thoughtful meaning given to it. Despite being very much together throughout, the particularity of each brother’s own capacity managed to create a believable symbiotic reliance on the other that made the journey utterly engaging and wholly sold their brotherhood. 

BROTHERS REVIEW

Though it’s absolutely viable and, I’d argue, recommended to enjoy Brothers as a single-player experience, local co-op features as a rather special addition in this remake. It’s a lovely story to share with somebody, however once the charm of controlling both brothers at once is gone, A Tale of Two Sons becomes a rather humdrum two-player puzzler that offers little that feels new, especially in a world where Fares has gone on to expand upon Brothers’ foundations in his work with Hazelight. So while options are a fine thing, I do think co-op does rob the game of part of its impact because you no longer feel the kinship of Naia and Naiee through your dual-command. 

I do acknowledge there’ll be people who found, and maybe still find, Brothers’ rather atypical control scheme unplayable or unnecessarily challenging. Even my own lizard brain suffered from occasional misfires where I’d lose track of my thumbs, as silly as that sounds, if the brothers drifted to opposing sides of the screen. Obviously it’s already a test of motor skills and coordination, though there’s definitely an element of spatial awareness that’s tested constantly. And perhaps if all of that feels too much, therein lies the use case for local co-op though I’d encourage players to try and experience the game as originally released first and foremost. 

BROTHERS REVIEW

As a remake, A Tale of Two Sons really does feel like a beat for beat recreation, and if it veers from the established path it’s hidden well enough that it didn’t catch me off-guard as new. As is always the case, it’s a bit of a rose-tinted glasses situation because it feels like the same experience, however Avantgarden’s remake does seem more refined in terms of AI and other physics behaviours that have naturally improved over the last decade. Outside of bringing it up to standard, Brothers is a sterling recreation of an earnest, solemn fairy tale that still, a decade on, has several emotional highs worth exploring. 

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An ailing father might serve as the impetus for the boys’ adventure in Brothers, but there are so many stories you’ll encounter along the road that really service the game’s many throughlines including, but not limited to mourning, grief and adversity. For a short game, Brothers makes its shots count and wrings feelings from every microcosmic story that’s pulled into the orbit of a rather simple tale of two boys trying to save their dad. What impresses me the most is how it manages to do all of this through the power of gesture and a handful of disposable lines read in a gibberish blend of dialects. 

BROTHERS REVIEW

Having sampled parts of the original again prior to reviewing the remake, it’s clear that there’s a day and night difference when it comes to the game’s presentation. Though improved, I wouldn’t call it a stellar looking game. The people you encounter throughout are so-so, the beasts of myth that darken your path look fierce and worthy of panic, while the world itself is the clearest improvement in terms of the game’s fidelity. Things like foliage and lighting create a striking backdrop for the journey. Of course, things are a little pared back when opting for performance mode but that’s likely to spare you the pop-in and juddering that can mar the experience in fidelity mode. 

When it comes to delivering on the story’s devastating moments, there’s a huge assist on the soundtrack’s score line. Reimagined and re-recorded by a full orchestra, the arrangement is more than serviceable when it comes to tugging on the heartstrings during the game’s many powerful moments. 

BROTHERS REVIEW

Although there’ll be people hesitant to double dip, there’s no question that this remake of Brothers is the absolute number one course of experiencing this quaint, heart rending fairy tale. As a faithful recreation of the decade-old original, the premise of Brothers still holds up today and, in a lot of ways, feels like a blueprint for Josef’s duology that reinvented what it can mean to be a co-op game. 

BROTHERS REVIEW
Conclusion
Just as it was ten years ago, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a succinct, yet economical, adventure that wastes no time in delivering a beautiful and devastating co-op experience that, through this remake, can now be shared with another—even if that dilutes the game’s novel concept as a result.
Positives
Still as quaint and moving as it was a decade ago
The novel twin-stick approach still holds up
Looks so much better rebuilt in Unreal Engine 5
Negatives
Though options are good, local co-op robs the game of its identity
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