''Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons"
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher: 505 Games
ESRB Rating: T, for Teen
Grade: 4 stars (out of 5)
The Xbox Live Arcade and, similarly, the PlayStation Network continue to provide a breeding ground for incredible titles with distinct perspectives and gameplay ideas. "Brothers" might not soak up a weekend (OK, it might barely soak up a night) of your time, but its adventure demands your attention and appreciation.
With their father in poor health and in need of the fabled "water of life," it falls on two siblings to traverse a beautifully rendered landscape for the cure. The plot takes on some grown-up themes, and from the get-go you feel the weight that these two boys carry as they push forward, discovering their own bravery and courage.
The control scheme instantly grabs your attention. You control both brothers, but not by toggling between them. Instead, each analog stick controls a brother, and this creates some compelling (if frustrating) gaming.
The various scenarios test your focus and dexterity. You may have to simultaneously navigate one character onto a platform while another character must cross a bridge. In another excellent scene, the two boys are attached by a rope and use each other as counterweight to swing along a cliff. Each scenario requires your left and right brain to work as one (when typically we gamers are a "run forward, shoot gun" sort of folk). By game's end I was imagining how the style in "A Tale of Two Sons" could be a test for a future high-profile release.
The game looks like it's taking cues from the "Fable" franchise, and no one could complain about that. Detailed environments, a wonderful sense of place and time, and interesting characters pop in and out as the brothers make their journey. If only the developers had invested in some voice acting instead of relying on that emotive noise stuff that "Fable" and "The Sims" are known for. Even in a game like "Brothers," which lasts less than four hours, it gets on your nerves.
''Brothers" instantly engages you and keeps you invested throughout the action. "A Tale of Two Sons" is a must-play for Xbox and PlayStation owners.