Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons: preview

Film director Josef Fares has joined with developers Starbreeze to create a new digital only title, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

Imagine the humour and storytelling of Fable mixed with the control scheme of the recent Nintendo Land Animal Crossing mini game (played with only two people) along with a puzzle game such as Lostwinds and Journey and perhaps you have an idea of what makes Brothers. The two brothers are seeking a cure to save their father and you need to guide them in their quest.

We had the opportunity to play through an early build at a preview event. The early puzzles are not particularly challenging, but ease you into the main mechanic which you will be utilising throughout the game where you control one brother with the left control stick and left trigger, and the other other brother with the controls on the right side of the controller. The camera is certainly being challenged as it has to adjust constantly as you move your two playable characters in opposing directions. On the whole it fairs pretty well. However, Starbreeze have wisely added user control to the camera via the shoulder buttons.

We experienced a puzzle which involved crossing a field. In the field are a number of haystacks and climbable rocks. Stopping you crossing the field with ease is an attack dog (cute to look at, but fearsome if it gets to one if your characters). The ‘puzzle’ is how to utilise the two different characters simultaneously to cross the field without being mauled. You move one character to safety whilst distracting the dog with your other brother.

When we managed to get into a conversation with Josef, it became clear that he is very proud of the small embedded stories littered across the game. He stressed that very few moments of gameplay are repeated throughout the entire three-to-four hour game experience. Each scene should stand alone without becoming a repeating theme punctuating the game with a regular rhythm. With regard to those small stories, these are moments of interaction which are short stories in their own right. Each brother can achieve different results by interacting with non player characters, animals and scenery. Some interactions will be heart warming, some sad and many comedic in tone.

Starbreeze claim three to four hours of gameplay, with few reused puzzles. However, whether the game will hold our interest will depend on how the core puzzle mechanic evolves, in addition to the narrative hooking you in. Do we care and will the story have enough twists and turns to keep us wanting to complete the next dual character puzzle in the next scene?

Visually it is a cross between Fable and Lostwinds, but we are told that later levels become much darker and more gritty. The sound design and music is gentle and absorbing. Could this be the next Journey? Visually it is far more traditional, so it won’t have the immediate impact based on its looks; however, its gameplay could draw people in. It’s engaging and interesting based on the small section of gameplay we have seen so far.

Watch out for the Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in May 2013.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to

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