Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a downloadable game available through Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, and Steam for PCs. It's a puzzle and platforming game with almost no violence, though in one dark scene players will traverse a bloody battlefield filled with the bodies of dead giants. Plus, the notion of death plays a significant role in the game's sobering fantasy story. One of the things that makes this game special is that these two brothers make great role models. They only get into one fight with an enemy and spend the rest of the game figuring out puzzles and trying to help people. They love, cooperate with, and help one another throughout.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- solving puzzles
- moving beyond obstacles
Engagement, Approach, Support
If the dramatic opening scene doesn't intrigue players, the unique two-hero mechanic probably will. This is the sort of game that grabs players by dint of its sheer unusualness.
The puzzles are baked in to the action, allowing players to use their experience to figure out how to overcome obstacles. Players also will learn about good brotherly behavior via examples set by the characters.
Basic instructions are provided within the game. There's no official community for support, but fans and third-party websites have created their own walkthroughs.
What's it about?
BROTHERS: A TALE OF TWO SONS is the fantastical story of older and younger siblings on a quest to retrieve medicine from a magic tree with the power to save their father. The two brothers, who experience a terrible tragedy in the game's opening scenes that leaves one deathly afraid of water, aren't warriors or sorcerers. They don't go around getting into fights. They're just kids who use teamwork and wits to solve problems -- moving obstacles, operating machinery, climbing up ledges -- and help people. It sounds much like any other game with navigational puzzles, but the twist comes in that you're always controlling both at the same time. The left thumbstick moves the older brother, the right moves the younger, and the corresponding triggers are used to interact with objects. The brothers are consequently quite dependent on one other. Many tasks can only be achieved by making both perform actions at the same time. Working alone, their abilities are greatly diminished.
Is it any good?
The brilliance of Brothers is that it uses its play mechanics to establish a connection between the player and the characters. More than that, it makes players feel, to a degree, what the characters feel. This is seen most clearly in a scene in which you have control over only one of the brothers. By this point in the game you've spent so much time with the two in tandem that the lack of one brother feels wrong. Everything is more difficult. Tasks are less fun. You become lonely. These are the exact emotions being experienced by the sole sibling. It's a heartfelt -- and heartbreaking -- moment of interactive storytelling.
The rest of the game is equal to this experience. Getting used to controlling two characters at once can be a bit tricky but is never too tough. And the world, marked by beautiful skies and colorful lands filled with fantastical creatures, is a visual treat. The adventure lasts a brief three hours, but they're three hours you won't soon forget.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what it is to be a sibling. How do you and your sibling(s) get along? When have they helped you or you helped them? Can you imagine life without them? If you don't have a brother or sister, what do you think it would be like?
Families also can discuss the concept of loss. Has anyone close to you ever died? What did you do to deal with your loss? What sort of advice would you give to someone else going through the same situation?
What is the impact of violence in the media? This game has a very bloody scene. Was it necessary?