Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake Review | PlayStation 5

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons really is an amazing experience and was well deserving of being brought into the new decade with this remake.

By MariDead, Posted 10 Mar 2024

The world of remakes is fairly saturated at the moment, with the feeling that there are almost as many remakes as new releases in recent years. Originally coming out in 2013, Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons was remastered this year with updated graphics, smoother gameplay, and a rerecorded soundtrack. Starbreeze Studio was the developer of the original game as well as this remake, which means they have an intimate knowledge of the game, what worked and what didn't, and could find subtle ways to improve this time around.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons was released onto Xbox Game Pass not long after its initial release and became one of those games that most people downloaded even if they didn't play. If someone mentioned it, you would know it was the game with the strange controls, but this could be the extent of your knowledge.

As the director, Josef Fares moved on to other projects, such as A Way Out or It Takes Two (which won a game of the year at the game awards), many people went to search his back catalog and noticed this little game he had produced a few years before. This gave Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons a second life within the first few years if it was out as many people reinstalled the game, hoping to catch a glimpse of more of Fares' sensational storytelling. Players were not disappointed. 

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons is the story of life, death, grief, and acceptance. Now, that sounds very deep for an arcade-style game with a somewhat gimmicky control scheme. While Josef Fares is a very talented director who tells a very interesting and intricate story in his other games, A Way Out and It Takes Two, it is safe to say that his stories since have focused more on personal relationships rather than the circle of life as a whole. 

That is not to say that personal stories are not an important part of this narrative experience; they are more about life and death as a whole, more than just the tale of the two sons, the brothers who lead the story. Little moments into other stories, one about a caged birdlike creature, the love between two trolls, and even a moment some may miss about a burned-out house, also continue this theme. Life and death play a huge part in nearly every exchange the brothers come across throughout the story. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Village

Because of this, there is an extensive trigger warning at the game's opening. There are themes of death, self-harm, unlawful imprisonment, and suicide throughout the game. That is not to say playing Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons will be a depressing experience. Most of these themes are treated with tact and a hopeful tone that makes them easier to swallow than in some narratives. This review will mention these themes, although it will not go into descriptive detail; please read at your own risk.

The narrative of Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons follows brothers Naia and Naiee. Most players will not realize these are the names of the boys. However, most refer to them simply as the older or big brother and the younger or little one. Naiee is the younger of the two boys and opens the games at a gravestone. There is a flashback that shows the brothers lost their mother at sea. Naiee was on the boat with her at the time when she drowned, showing us that he lost her in a tragic way to drowning. We also know from the boy's age in the flashback, who is almost the same age, that this was a recent event. 

Her spirit comes to him, comforting him as he mourns her, helping him handle his grief. It is at this moment that Naia appears with the boys' father in tow. It isn't clear if the older brother or their dad can see the spirit of their mother/wife or if this is unique to Naiee as the one who saw her drown. Naia is there to tell his younger brother their dad is ill, and he needs medicine from deep in the forest at an ancient tree that will offer medicine for their dad and save his life. From here, the boys begin their journey across this world's vibrant and diverse environment. 

The journey is the rest of the story of Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. They travel first through their small town, having fairly low steaks issues such as a bully blocking a bridge or a vicious dog being in the way of where they need to go. During this bully segment, the player is shown one of the key gameplay elements as well as an important story note: Naiee, the younger brother, is terrified of water. As the game progresses, however, the challenges faced by the boys become a lot scarier and, in some places, so much darker. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Sketch Book

The world of fantasy is opened up. The boys come across some trolls, one of which leads them into a cave with more trolls and even an ogre within it. You control the boys as they work their way through challenges, stealth sections, and various puzzles. Learning the higher steaks of the gameplay but still in a fantastical world that feels very light and fun. Hold on to this, and it doesn't stay forever.

The story starts to show how dark it can be during the first night of traveling; the boys come across a pack of chilling wolves that will attack and kill them if they get the chance. This scene serves as a good point of no return. The game has put its big boy pants on, and you need to, too, because now the brothers can die. The sound that accompanies this scene is fantastic. I challenge any of you to play it and not have goosebumps from both the noise of the wolves and the terrified whimpers of the two boys. 

The motif of death being ever looming is then exacerbated in every scene. This story is truly amazing, and to tell you anymore would be a massive disservice to a fantastic story. Just know the story will be one filled with fantastic beats that explore the inevitability of death in a way that is somewhat joyful. While death is coming for everyone in the game, it does not mean an end and can be a moment of beautiful sacrifice. Keep the tissues close for the later half of this story for sure. 

Most people who haven't played Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons will still know about the control scheme. There are many games that have two main characters that a single player can control, and each offers their own skill set to the player. A standout example is in Resident Evil Revelations 2, where the player can play either of the main story's characters, Clair or Barry, as the ones with weapons, and Moira or Natalia, who offer support through their knowledge or strategic advantages.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Swinging

In Resident Evil, however, this is done by switching between the characters, and their AI will take over when you are not controlling them. Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons works very differently from this. Both brothers are controlled at the same time, with Naia, the older brother, on the left thumb and Naiee, the younger, on the right. Both brothers can move simultaneously in different directions, doing different things, assuming you, as the player, can keep track of both at once.

The mechanic is introduced very simply. Both boys must work together to push a cart, holding their sickly father, down a hill together. This means that the brothers are working to push the cart in the same direction, wanting to go the same way as each other. Very helpful, Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons also keeps Naia, left hand, on the left and Naiee, right hand, on the right. This is an excellent way of introducing the mechanic as it eases the player into what can become very complicated.

By pushing this cart, you will also be exposed to the only other button in the game that controls the boys. This is the interact key that allows the brothers to interact with any item. On a gamepad, this key will be the trigger on the same side as whichever of the boys is already on that side. And this trigger works for everything. Want to climb that? Trigger. Need to grab? Trigger. Throw that rope? Trigger. Save a man from hanging? Trigger. Save a man from what you say? Yes, this game explores death and grief A LOT.

The simplicity of these controls is part of the game's beauty. The challenge comes from the situations these simple controls put you into. For example, an early section with a farmer's dog requires the brothers to climb onto hay bales to evade the dog. They can't outrun it, so they need to make sure one is distracting the dog while the other runs away as fast as they can. The button to shout and distract the dog? Trigger. But you already knew that. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, In the darkness

This is just the first time the brothers have to move at different times to complete a section. In a later section of the game, Naia needs to pull a lever while Naiee is below him, causing a distraction. You have to be aware of both brothers, or Naia will miss his chance, or Naiee will get hurt down below, where he is trapped with their pursuer. 

Another key aspect of the gameplay is found in the differing abilities of each brother. Naia, the older brother, is stronger, able to reach higher, and can lift his younger brother. Naiee is smaller and able to fit in small gaps, such as between bars. He can also climb on his older brother's shoulders, meaning he can often access higher ground first and will have to throw a rope down to his older brother. This means that the brothers will often be in separate spaces and have to work together but not be next to each other. 

This is, again, a fantastic feature as it allows the player to have to make clear choices of how to use each brother and when each is the most valuable in different spaces. They also have to work perfectly in tandem in the water; Naiee has been terrified of the water since witnessing his mother drowning. This means the younger boy has to hold on to his brother, who has never learned to swim when they are in the water. This means that while controlling Naia, you are pressing the action key to hold on as Naiee. After working all on one side of the controller for the majority of the game, this can actually be a rather difficult sequence.

The other way in which the characters can navigate the space is through climbing. These two boys have upper body strength that has never been seen in humans before. They can climb like there is no tomorrow or, indeed, gravity. While a lot of this is typical video game climbing, with the Nathan Drake reach, which indicates a jump is small enough for the player to make it over. In one section, the strength of these boys is taken to a ludicrous level as one boy holds a wall with just his hands while the other swings from beneath him on a rope, grabbing the next handhold.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Coop

While being a little ridiculous, this is actually a very fun section of Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons as the boys have to work together in a new way, navigating a vertical space while tied to each other, swinging through the area rather than just climbing it. This new mode of transportation means the section isn't one of boring climbing and is, instead, one that is incredibly memorable to those who have played it. This section is also preceded by a section where the brothers fly a plane through a magnificent valley. Again, they prove their incredible strength by holding onto a soaring plane with just their hands.

The other main part of the gameplay is the puzzles that the player must navigate to progress through the game. These can range from using gears to change how a machine works to pulling levers in a specific sequence or luring foes into certain areas with one brother while the other triggers a trap. The puzzles are so much fun, and they add some variety to the gameplay, which is an amazing addition.

The only other buttons in Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons are the bumpers, which move the camera around. This is a very effective way of navigating the POV, as the thumbstick would normally be used for this, but brothers are being used to move the brothers. This means that, while the camera can be roasted around the two boys, the pitch of the view is never changed by the player.

This is not an issue for most of the game. While not fully top-down, the camera is high enough throughout the majority of the narrative that the space around the brothers is both easy to see and explore. However, there are a few sequences where the camera moves and completely throws the controls out of whack. An example of this is when Naiee tumbles into some deep water and has to be rescued by his brother. The view pulls to one side to create a stunning image; however, it makes navigating the depth nearly impossible. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Boat Mission

I found this happening in only two moments, both of which were short enough that I took a few seconds to readjust before moving on. This is by no means a game-breaking element of the gameplay, but it can be frustrating for those who struggle with navigating the space in 2.5D games, so it is well worth pointing out. 

In addition to the remaster of Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons, a two-player mode has been introduced. This allows a second player to play on their own controller, controlling one brother each. While the story of Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons is amazing and a wonderful experience, no matter how it is experienced, a lot of the fun can be found in the unique gameplay that both brothers bring to the table. 

The gameplay in Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons is a fun and unique experience that is truly enjoyable. It is unique and is a massive credit to director Josef Fares, who went on to create split-screen games A Way Out, and It Takes Two. The gameplay in this game is an impressive prelude to what will come from his future work. That is not to say that this game works only as a demonstration of what is to come. It is, instead, a fantastic game in and of itself that is well worth playing through.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots

The aim of most remakes is to improve the graphics, and this is definitely done to a fantastic amount in Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. The updated character models hold so much expression, and you can tell what everyone's thinking and feeling, even those who aren't human. The scenery is also beyond beautiful. The stunning setting of the land becomes stranger yet more beautiful as the boys move on in the story. There are amazing opportunities to look over this scenery as the boys can come across benches where they can sit and look over the amazing views. It is an amazing feature of the game which shows off the sensational visuals in this game.

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons had a completely rerecorded soundtrack to improve the audio quality for the remake. As someone who loves the original game and replays it often, I find the improvement very noticeable. The music is like night and day from the old game. Not only is the quality vastly improved, but some of the emotional moments appear to have been remixed to allow the soundtrack to really shine in the parts of the game that have a large swelling moment of music.

The voice acting in Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons is very unique. The characters don't speak any discernible language; instead, a made-up one is fully invented for the game. This does not cause any confusion, however, as the acting through the unique words are still clear in their intent, allowing the player to fully understand what is being communicated between the characters. This is done through not only the incredible facials but also the amazing voice acting that shines despite not having the words many would think necessary to tell such a wonderful story. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, Review, PlayStation 5, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons was already an incredible game. The original graphics were just dated enough that the larger, higher resolution screens we have available to us today were causing some of the beauty to be lost, unable to stand the test of time. The updated version not only adds to the incredible scenery but also allows the nuance of expression that adds to the already amazing storytelling.

The gameplay is unique and invites a challenge that will hook anyone into the fun and exciting gameplay. The puzzles offered can be hard to work out, but not so much that players will be unable to move on with the game. It really is an amazing experience and was well deserving of being brought into the new decade with this remake. 

Mariella Deadman (@MariellaDead)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX
Publisher(s): 505 Games
Developer(s): Avantgarden
Genres: 2D Platformer
Themes: Puzzle, Casual, Adventure
Release Date: 2024-02-28

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