Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Switch Review — Some Things Are Better Left in the Past
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons for the Switch should've been an exciting time, but this wasn't the case.
It’s been six years now since Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons first appeared on the Xbox 360’s marketplace in 2013 and since then the game has graced the screens of numerous other devices. Payday 2 developer Starbreeze Studios–who sold the rights of Brothers to publisher 505 Games–captured the hearts of players everywhere with its emotionally charged story of brotherly love. Now, with the Switch version ported by Turn Me Up Games that includes a co-op mode, how well does Brothers fair in the vast ocean of other local multiplayer titles? Largely, not all that well.
Josef Fares is affectionately remembered for his epic outburst at The Game Awards a few years ago but he is also known as the director of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Even though Fares was against the idea of Brothers being a co-op adventure telling Game Informer that he’d “rather cut my hands than do that,” here we are with a good old fashioned couch co-op game, which I’ve always been a huge advocate for.
The narrative of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons revolves around two brothers named Naiee and Naia who have no choice but to take on the harrowing endeavor of trying to save their ill father by going off and gathering special water from the Tree of Life, as this is the only thing that can keep their gravely sick father from death.
When Brothers initially launched, you manipulated each brother’s movements at the same time but 505 Games decided to make the most of Switch’s heavy support for local multiplayer games by dividing control between players, although you can still play solo if you wish. At first, navigating one of the brothers while my gaming partner took charge of the other, was a really clunky experience. It soon became more manageable after a while, but not particularly enjoyable due to some movements like hanging and swinging not being very responsive, ultimately leading to my demise off a cliff or sliding face first off a wall.
Also, being in such a tight-knit environment without any place to go other than the path became quite frustrating. Controlling only a single brother, I sometimes got confused on which one I was leading to a few heated words on why I wasn’t moving or why I was going in a different direction.
Thankfully, this was the only time that I felt somewhat confused as the gameplay is extremely basic with puzzles that don’t require a lot of skill, if any. The dialogue between Naiee and Naia was initially quite cute but, like so many things in this title, it began to grate on me with the gobbledygook language with no subtitles. Although I do understand that this game is more a story being told through animation rather than conversation, I still found it irritating at times.
I do, however, love that each brother has their very own personality and skill set that shines through, especially when they approach a stranger on their journey. While one brother may not get any information out of the newcomer and is told to go away, the other sibling may use their charm to further them on their travels.
As endearing as the story is, there is a much darker side to it that you witness as you progress further. One of the more poignant scenes is when you stop a man from hanging himself as one brother climbs the tree to cut the rope and ultimately saves his life. This brutal moment was then ruined when the cut rope was still sticking straight up out of the poor man’s neck like some kind of bizarre fashion accessory. Naturally, this destroyed the moment entirely and in turn, what was a very somber moment developed into a dark comedy act.
The graphics in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons have not been enhanced for the Switch version and it’s almost exactly the same as when it first came out. Personally speaking, I felt it could have done with a little makeover (provided the Switch would’ve allowed it) as the overall environment felt very dated. Especially when zoomed in, you really noticed how poor the textures are. For a game to mainly focus on environmental storytelling, Brothers lets itself down in this aspect due to not aging well. That’s not to say that there weren’t any visually beautiful moments but these, in my opinion, were far and few between.
I’m a huge lover of local co-op but I was unfortunately left unfulfilled, annoyed and quite frankly bored after my playthrough with a friend. There is very little room for replayability but if you are looking for a simple, short, and non-demanding game to tide you over for 3 hours, you may enjoy Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
My suggestion would be to invest in something a lot more engaging and more extensive like Unravel 2 or Overcooked 2 to satisfy your couch co-op desires. It pains me to say that the implemented co-op feature has defeated the whole purpose of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and it should have been left how it was — in the past and untouched.