The Next Journey? Preview: Brothers

Imagine the humour and story telling of Fable mixed with the control scheme of the recent Nintendoland sweet 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.

Published by 505 games, developed by Starbreeze  Studios with the story and vision being driven by a film developer Josef Fares, Brothers is a digital title coming to consoles and PCs this Spring. You control two brothers as they complete a quest to help their father find a cure. You do so by controlling one with the right control stick and trigger, and the other with the left control stick and trigger.

One puzzle we experienced involves 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.

The early puzzles are not particularly challenging, but ease you into the main mechanic which you will be utilising throughout the game. 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.

Throughout the game there 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. When we managed to get into a conversation with Josef, it became clear that he is very proud of these small embedded stories. He stressed that very few moments of gameplay are repeated throughout the entire game. Each scene should stand alone without becoming a repeating theme punctuating the game with a regular rhythm.

Whether the game will hold our interest will depend on how Starbreeze Studios have developed and evolved the core puzzle mechanic in addition to the narrative hooking you in. They claim three to four hours of gameplay, with few reused puzzles. The two brothers are seeking a cure to save their father. 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? With a film director involved who clearly loves games (he was keen to reference to us all his gaming references!), perhaps this has a solid chance of achieving it’s aims.

The title is very attractive to look at, a cross between Fable and Lostwinds with the music being serene and gentle. We are told that later levels are much darker and more dramatic.

For those wanting a gentle, light degree of stimulation Brothers could be an enticing way to pass away a few hours if priced appropriately on the digital stores.

Watch out for the Brothers in May 2013.

Available for XBA, PSN and as a digital PC title.