Brothers - Opinion

I played this game a while back but have only recently felt compelled to write this review because of how much people seem to like it, and how much that irritates me. It was described to me as 'brilliant and brave' but I found it to be disappointing and quite predictable in its plot and structure. It has the air, not of something beautifully crafted by an old-hand, but of cack-handedness and cliché. It feels like the work of an incompetent storyteller retreating into a new medium, not for the new opportunities it offers, but for the sake of diminished competition. There are some positives - the environments are nice looking and there is very little repetition of game mechanics. There is a tendency among game designers to stick to a rigidly limited amount of gameplay elements for the sake of readability, but in doing so you deprive the player of experimentation - a cornerstone of the medium. Besides, all of the puzzle elements in this game are tied together by a common language - physics. You pull, push lean and swing. None of this has to be taught because we are already familiar with these actions from real life. I very much enjoyed playing a game where each experience is a new one.

Unfortunately the rest of the game is a let down. The mechanics never deliver on the promise made by it existing as a game, although in fairness, it does try - the bond between characters is meant to be forged by your actions - puzzles that require both brothers to complete. However you never identify with one character due to the disconnect created by you having to control both, and likewise you never form a bond with either as neither are truly external to you as the player. This leaves the story in an awkward place where it feels separate from the gameplay as it plays out in cutscenes in which you lose control - creating distance. The core mechanic too where you control one boy with each stick never stops being confusing and its only saving grace is that the game is short enough for you to persevere despite it.

Also noticeably jarring is the poor execution of the ending - throughout the game you solve challenges as part of a pair - surely the most elegant way of showing loss would be to come across more challenges subsequent to the death of one brother and find yourself unable to complete them, forcing you then to take a longer, harder road. Instead you're bolstered on by the dead boy's memory and are able to complete tasks with one that before required two. Rather than emphasising a point, they design a solution to bypass it, a solution to the very punchline that they have built up to until this point. A bizarre choice.