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Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons Remake Review

How do our brothers grim fare a decade later?

Remakes and remasters are a prominent part of the current gaming landscape, but I’d be lying if I said that I thought Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons would be likely to get a remakeover. It’s not exactly an obscure title, having garnered quite a bit of praise when it first released on the Xbox 360 and after its subsequent spread to other platforms, but it still felt like one of those moments in time that was perhaps destined to remain so. But here we are just over a decade later, with a remake of the title replete with fancier graphics, better performance and a new co-op mode. But given it’s essentially the same experience with some bells and whistles, does Brothers feel like it stands up in the modern era?

A troll takes a brief respite from posting on 4Chan

Brothers follows the tragic tale of two siblings who lose their mother to an accident at sea. Bad turns to worse as their father falls gravely ill, with the local doctor informing them that only the water found at a mysterious tree can heal him. I say inform, however all verbal interactions involve a made-up language loosely based on Arabic, and it’s largely up to the player to follow visual and emotional cues to make sense of things. With a map to the magic tree grasped in the hands of the older brother, the two set off on a perilous adventure across a fantastical land to retrieve the cure for their father’s illness.

While there are light puzzles and several climbing sections to navigate, Brothers is largely a sedate experience, relishing the chance to show off its vistas and gently usher you forward at a casual pace. Here, the reworked graphics do a great job of bringing the environment to life, and the world feels infinitely richer and more vibrant thanks to the extreme visual facelift. The art direction retains its rounded cartoonish style, but the brothers and denizens of the world now have much more defined features, including some meticulously crafted hair on the younger brother (something I’ve been obsessed with as a fan of Square Enix for some time).

Little brother doubles quite nicely as a hamster

The most unique aspect of Brothers is its control scheme, whereby the left stick and trigger control the movement and actions of the big brother, and the right stick and trigger are designated to the younger of the two. There is an added co-op mode that allows two people on the same couch to control one of the brothers each, but I still think this is much better played solo (incidentally I also completed Portal 2’s co-op missions solo with two controllers but that’s a story for another day). Despite a few instances where cooperatively controlling both brothers at once made me want to reboot my brain in safe mode, it’s a neat mechanic that’s fairly well implemented in some relatively placid puzzling and platforming. I would argue that the variety of puzzles feels a little light, but again this is largely a short and meditative experience that isn’t really designed to be frustrating.

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The game dallies with some fairly dark themes, with much of the land across which the boys venture infected with a pervasive sadness. Magical creatures such as trolls can be handy allies or cruel tormentors, and there are even heavier themes around suicide and ritual murder that feature throughout. While you can stick to the beaten path and knock over the game in a single session, there’s value in exploring the smaller side stories of the world to better immerse yourself in it. There may be no real gameplay benefit in doing so, but helping out the beleaguered local human and animal life and bringing some goodness back into the world does make you feel a little warm and fuzzy.

I very much enjoyed revisiting Brothers, but my relatively controversial take is that in the modern age it doesn’t quite strike the same profound notes it once did. As both an older and younger brother myself, I still struggled to fully dial into the dynamic between the two intrepid adventurers. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the likes of the stellar protector/protected relationship in A Plague Tale, or maybe my cold dead heart needs a defib, but despite recognising the events on screen as being objectively sad I wasn’t fully sold. This is with the exception of one particular moment that is so brilliantly executed that it manages to focus the sibling relationship in a truly deep way, but the ending still doesn’t quite know what to do with itself despite this extremely strong moment.

Final Thoughts

While personally I don’t think Brother: A Tale of Two Sons Remake feels like an essential release, it’s still a welcome and faithful reimagining. Its gentle pace and dark themes are sure to inspire many to spend a few hours traipsing across its beautiful magical land, even if I believe that those dark themes don’t ultimately crystallise into something truly cohesive. The visual makeover is at least profound and breathes new life into the title, and this is certainly the definitive way to experience the tragic yet heartwarming tale of our two suffering siblings.

Reviewed on PS5  //  Review code supplied by publisher

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Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons Remake Review
Brohemian Rhapsody
A significant visual upgrade makes this faithful remake the best way to engage with this tragic tale, even if its simple themes still lack a little nuance.
The Good
Visually stunning makeover brings the title into the modern era
The control scheme is unique and well implemented
An incredibly emotional moment brings the brothers' relationship into focus
The Bad
Puzzle variety remains a little light
Dark themes are just that, but they don't all come together cohesively
Ending still flounders
7.5
Solid
  • Avantgarden SRL
  • 505 Games
  • PS5 / Xbox Series X/ PC
  • February 29, 2024

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Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons Remake Review
Brohemian Rhapsody
A significant visual upgrade makes this faithful remake the best way to engage with this tragic tale, even if its simple themes still lack a little nuance.
The Good
Visually stunning makeover brings the title into the modern era
The control scheme is unique and well implemented
An incredibly emotional moment brings the brothers’ relationship into focus
The Bad
Puzzle variety remains a little light
Dark themes are just that, but they don’t all come together cohesively
Ending still flounders
7.5
Solid
Written By Kieran Stockton

Kieran is a consummate troll and outspoken detractor of the Uncharted series. He once fought a bear in the Alaskan wilderness while on a spirit quest and has a PhD in organic synthetic chemistry XBL: Shadow0fTheDog PSN: H8_Kill_Destroy

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