Here’s an analogy for you: If Skyrim is your favorite Pixar film, then Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ($15, Xbox Live Arcade) is the animated short before that film. It’s the experience that, while short-lived, sticks with you long after credits of the main feature have rolled. I don’t think I’m too far off the mark by calling Brothers one of the most emotionally rich and meaningful games of 2013. The story is simple: you and your brother must find a live-saving cure for your father, who has fallen ill. Because he is your only living parent, saving his life is all the more important. This leads the two sons on an adventure through a danger-ridden fantasy world.
This review will be short. Not because I don’t have a lot to say about Brothers, but because the simple act of writing about the story would ruin it for you. Think of it like this: how angry would you be if I went to see a movie you’d been eagerly anticipating for the past year, and then rattled off some of the major plot points? You’d be kinda pissed, right? Every scenario in Brothers is something you must experience for yourself to truly appreciate. There are few games I can think of in which the minute-to-minute events are so special.
Brothers isn’t a challenging game, nor is it preoccupied with bombast and big-budget action sequences. It’s not a long game, either (you’ll finish it in a few hours). In fact, it barely passes muster as a video game, in the traditional sense. Think of it as an interactive fairy tale with themes of loss, family, and the ability to overcome fear. It will show you sights that will take your breath away, and put you through moments that will shake you to your core. For crying out loud, developer Starbreeze even found a way to make the controls (you’ll know it when it happens) utterly heartbreaking in the final minutes. If that doesn’t convince you that Brothers is worth $15, I don’t think anything will. Grab this with no hesitation.