As remakes become more and more frequent, the question must be asked: Does this game need a remake? That was certainly the case when 505 Games announced a remake for Josef Fares and Starbreeze Studios’ 2013 title Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which is being developed by Italian studio Avantgarden SRL. But upon further reflection, and those who have played the original will likely agree, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game that you must experience thanks to an emotional narrative that packs a punch and unique premise that sees players control both characters with a single controller. Ahead of its launch on February 28, I was able to go hands-on with the first hour of the remake, and it was here I understood that a modern rendition makes sense.
Avantgarden’s work is a by-the-book remake – a modernised carbon copy of its predecessor – insisting that they wanted to enhance the original experience. The brothers still talk in their incomprehensible gibberish that is about conveying the severity of a situation, puzzles have the same solutions and the world follows the same blueprint, but it’s all been brought up to modern standards. Frankly, I am glad they’ve taken this approach and not attempted to change what worked 10 years ago, allowing new players to take in Josef Fares’ vision as he designed it to be played.
Given Brothers is heavily story-driven, I’ll keep the narrative notes brief. The opening of the game sees two brothers tasked with finding the Water of Life, the only remedy that can cure their seriously ill father. The siblings must work together, each having their own strengths and weaknesses, if they are to save their old man. The older brother is stronger and can lift his younger brother to higher areas or carry him while swimming, while the younger brother’s smaller size allows him to slip through gates and sneak about.
You can tell that Avantgarden has put a lot of care into making the remake, and it was a pleasure reexperiencing the visually overhauled fairytale world of Brothers, which is now full of detail that brings it to life in a way that the technical advancements we have these days allow. Thanks to Unreal Engine 5, the village feels denser, forest areas are smothered in lush greenery and enticing flowing rivers, and the new dynamic lighting really helps bring out the best of these new details.
One of the knocks on the original was that the controls were a little bit clunky, and the remake alleviates this by tightening up the controls and making them feel more responsive, as well as including all-new animations. That doesn’t mean that the controls are easy to master, and it does take some time to get used to controlling both characters at once, especially when one brother needs to turn a crank and the other needs to hang on for dear life. Furthermore, the camera angles have been vastly improved and players can rotate the camera if need be, allowing the brothers to explore their surroundings easier.
The fairytale world of Brothers looks magical thanks to Unreal Engine 5
Although Brothers is primarily a single-player experience, Avantgarden has added the ability to play through the story in local co-op, however I did not test this while playing the preview build. I can see a lot of people choosing this method of playthrough, but I do wonder at what narrative cost this will come at. Either way, it’s great that it’s an option.
I’m loathe to say that the remake is the definitive way to play Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, as each version is a product of its time. But for those who have played the original, there are enough improvements across the board to make another playthrough more than worthwhile, and it still has one of the best narratives I’ve experienced that will hit as hard as it did the first time. With the updated visuals and improved controls and camera, first-time players are in for a treat and an emotional gut punch.
Previewed on PC // Preview code supplied by publisher
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons releases on February 28 on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG).