Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake is a Great Experience for Newcomers

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Iain McParland
| March 7, 2024
hello world!

Hazelight Studios, the developers behind the brilliant It Takes Two, are no strangers to emotional damage. I mean, the elephant scene alone keeps me up at night. Before It Takes Two came Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, an adventure first released in 2013 on PS3 and Xbox 360. 

Shock! Horror! In this time of remasters and remakes, this classic is following suit with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, brought to you by Avantgarden and published by 505 Games. This puzzle platformer follows a pair of brothers on an epic journey to retrieve medicine for their seriously ill father and can be played solo with one controller or local co-op.

If you thought It Takes Two hit hard, you ain’t seen nothing yet! 

However, if you have already experienced Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, there may not be enough of a reason to return. 

Story and Gameplay

Don’t get all mushy on me!

The story revolves around two brothers, Naiee and Naia, who, after the loss of their mother, are now faced with a critically ill father. His doctor sends the two sons on a quest to retrieve much-needed medicine, which is only found within a mythical tree. The brothers’ journey takes them through treacherous terrain, meeting mysterious strangers and befriending benevolent creatures. Danger is never far in this three to five-hour adventure.

When playing solo, the controls can be fiddly. This was how the original was meant to be played (as co-op was not available previously), but it takes a brain that can multitask to traverse the world. Playing on PS5, the right stick controls the younger brother, with R2 being his interact button. The left stick controls the older brother, with L2 being his interact button. You have to negotiate most of the game controlling both brothers simultaneously. When they’re on the ground, it’s not so bad, only causing some silly-looking running into walls, but when they’re climbing, it’s a bit more precarious. 

Needless to say, Naiee and Naia have fallen to their deaths on more than one occasion.

The brothers can interact with various characters and objects throughout your playthrough. In fact, although they aren’t marked in any way, there is something akin to side-quests. I stumbled upon some of these by accident. When I was being purposely mean, I threw a boy’s ball down a well and a trophy popped. MWHAHAHAHA!

There isn’t any combat, but there are what I would consider boss battles. These enemies can be defeated by solving puzzles after determining their weaknesses. 

Visuals and Sound

Time for a little sit down

The visuals are greatly improved from the original and add to the overall experience. The Hazelight release didn’t look terrible, but this is another level. Extra care has been taken in the environments and lighting, and it’s a very noticeable upgrade. 

But it can be difficult to actually see the beauty of the game because of one reason: the camera. Most games these days use the right stick to control the camera; it’s one of those universal gaming language things developers seem to have agreed on at some point. As I’ve already said, the right stick controls the little brother, meaning the camera is moved by R1 and L1. It’s the same in the original. As was my perennial annoyance of wrestling with it. It’s either too slow, too fast or stuck on invisible walls. It can be infuriating!

The soundtrack is as beautiful as ever. Gustaf Grefberg did a fantastic job evoking the right emotions for each moment; it’s haunting in sad moments and has a sense of wonder during lighter moments of exploration. Voicework doesn’t seem to have been re-recorded, but it does a serviceable job despite using a fictional language.

How Good is it as a Remake?

Damn you, glider section!

So what’s new? Why, if you’ve already played the original, should you buy the remake? The graphical overhaul is great and all, but I played the original on PS4 last year, and I don’t remember being off-put by the visuals, dated as they were. The remake is undeniably beautiful, but the original wasn’t ugly by any stretch.

Local co-op mode is a welcome addition, emulating Hazelight’s more recent games. However, Brothers is slightly different. Without spoiling anything, there are a couple of parts in the story that do not work as a co-op game. 

There were opportunities to improve aspects of the game that were not capitalized on. I remember certain sections of platforming being extremely annoying in the original. To climb, you press and hold either the left or right trigger (L2 or R2), hold up, let go, and then quickly hold the trigger again. It’s pretty fiddly and doesn’t look very smooth. Similarly, you have to hold the trigger when you need to hold onto chains or, in one section, a glider. I needed to pause in the middle, which broke the button input, meaning I instantly fell to my death on resuming. Some further additions in accessibility would have added to the repackaged product.

Incremental, quality-of-life improvements would have been welcome ones. But little in the way of functionality has made it into the game.

The remake does, however, have a shiny platinum trophy to earn as opposed to its platinumless predecessor. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Summary

These guys are strong!

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake is a good game. The original was a good game, and this is basically the same. It would be disingenuous of me to say otherwise. It has a hard-hitting narrative, fun puzzles, great overhauled visuals and an emotive soundtrack. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a must-play. 

As a remake though, it doesn’t do enough to set itself apart from the original for me to recommend early adopters to shell out for this version. The beauty of this game is its story, which has not deviated from the Xbox 360 era. 

It’s a little disappointing for a fan of the 2013 game. However, if you haven’t yet experienced Brothers, this would be the way to do it. The remake loses nothing of the original’s charm and improves upon the visual and oratory experience immensely. 

Ok, I’m off to earn the platinum. Don’t judge me!

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake is available on PC, Xbox Series S and X and PS5 right now for $19.99.

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