The second game I purchased during the recent Steam Summer Sale, after Jazzpunk, was a very different experience, but on the whole I preferred it to Necrophone's mad cold-war espionage parody. In fact I would say Brothers ATOTS is one of the best games I've played for quite some time.
It's a fairy tale adventure in which you control two brothers who are on an journey looking for a mystical cure for their ill father, and it has quite a few tricks up it's sleeve. First of all it is utterly charming. The environments are imaginative and stunningly beautiful, the characters are well drawn and animated, and the game is full of little touches that both draw you in and deepen the world. I took a lot of screenshots during my play-through; always a sign that a game is good to look at.
Brother's truly unique control method makes for some interesting puzzle solving, and whilst the game is never too difficult it does ask you to perform some interesting mental gymnastics. You control both brothers at the same time with an incredibly simple control method - the left stick controls big brother, and the right stick controls little brother (you do need a controller to get the most from this game). Other than that each brother has an "action" key, and that's it. The controls are incredibly simple, yet are the whole foundation on which the game succeeds.
At times the climbing, swinging and puzzle solving make the game feel more like an updated version of Tomb Raider than even the recent Tomb Raider reboot did.
As you progress through the fairy tale world the environments and puzzles become more imaginative, and the world becomes a little bit darker. Whilst I would love to play this game through with my son (the first half at least is completely non-violent and full of humour) there are some pretty dark moments later on, such as saving a suicide from hanging themselves, and the themes of death and loss become very strong.
For a game with no dialogue whatsoever the storytelling is not only clear and thoughtful, but incredibly strong emotionally. If a game like The Last of Us has some of the most powerful narrative storytelling in the genre, then Brothers has some of the most powerful gameplay driven storytelling I've come across.
There is one point near the end of the game where simply the action of pressing a button gave me very powerful feelings of loss and hope, a very bittersweet feeling that actually had me fighting back tears. Just from pressing a button. At that point I began to see the genius behind the game's control method, which wasn't just a unique and clever gimmick, but was being used to tell a story in a way that movies and books could never do.
The control method for the game was actually being used to tell the story, and the whole of the game leading up to that point had basically been training for that moment. It was something I'd not seen in a game before and made the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Brothers ATOTS is not a long game. It probably took me three hours or so to play through, but much like Jazzpunk, the experience is definitely one worth searching out (though for very different reasons). It has become one of my favourite games of the last few years. Play it!
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