I played Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which originally was released exclusively on Xbox Live, only later to make its way to the Playstation Network, which is where I of course picked it up from to play. I had heard a lot about this game, especially for being one of those games that you just need to play to fully experience, as any review, preview or write up couldn't possible do it any justice. I knew of the basic gameplay mechanics, and that the story is unforgettable, but other than that, I went into the game blind.
This last year or two has been filled with games that evoke emotions or feelings that video games rarely touched upon in years past. The art of storytelling and capturing a narrative through interactive game play has been the golden ticket to success for games recently, or so it seems. While spectacular graphics and other elements that go into games are always important, the storyline arch, the journey to the completion of the story and emotional connection made when it all comes together has driven the industry to change its way of thinking towards what make games good, and surprisingly, the the independent and smaller development studios are leading the charge.
When I decided to play Brothers, finally, I had taken a sick day from work. Fighting a nasty head cold/sinus thing/flu bug, I just needed a day of rest. I'm usually not one to take days off because I'm sick, but because I have a stockpile of days to take before the end of the year (because they don't roll over into next year), I figured this day was as good as any to start chipping away at my vacation time. I originally planned on playing a bunch of games, working on my insane backlog and such, but apparently my body decided that I actually did need some rest after all. At some point, however, I decided that of all the games I had to choose from, Brothers was going to be the one to consume my attention for the day.
At first I questioned my decision, as I thought about quitting several times, because honestly, it just wasn't grabbing me. You play as two brothers, controlling one brother with one analog stick and the trigger of that side, and the other brother with the other combo of analog stick and trigger. It's pretty straight forward and simplistic on paper, but man, it takes every bit of concentration to pull it off with precision. Even by the end of the game, I still found myself bumbling around, forgetting which stick controlled which brother. The worst is when you get the two brothers on opposite sides of the control scheme. It's pretty much mind numbing brain overload at that point, until you get it corrected.
The scenery in this game is breathtaking. So much so that the developers placed benches all along your designated path through the land for you to sit your characters down and literally just gaze off into the distance, taking in the magnificent artwork doubling as landscape. The brothers themselves and environment you actually interact with aren't exactly graphical benchmarks, but the overall look and feel of the game is quite beautiful. There is actually one moment with killer whale lookalikes, jumping out of the water, that made me say, "wow," for whatever that is worth.
There are some really awesome scenes that I wish were fleshed out more, but obviously couldn't be considering the narrow scope and smaller size of the game. Without spoiling too much, the inclusion of mountain trolls, slain giants and a frozen village were awesome, and I wish I could have explored more or at least gotten more context to what I was traversing through. There was also a moment that caught me completely off guard - involving a man and a tree - that was timed perfectly, as I was just starting to get bored with my experience when I came about it. Whether or not the timing of that scene was intentional, I appreciated it being there and bringing me back to caring.
At some point, I just decided that I was going to finish this game, regardless of how much I was engaged in it. By the time I reached the end, however, I had a couple of OMG moments, where I just sat there silently as I didn't know how to react or what to think. I was just trying to sort out my feelings and emotions about what I just saw happen, what I had to do as a player, and how it all ultimately wrapped up.
Brothers has an ending to its story that completely fits the bill of needing to experience it for yourself to fully grasp. While I wish the journey to that point was more engaging, I enjoyed enough of it to keep pushing forward, thankfully to the awaiting payoff, that was completely worth all the frustration of controls and points of boredom along the way.
Go play it. Now, later ... whenever you feel the right time is. But you need to experience it for yourself. Trust me.