Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake review – Older Brothers, younger look

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake is a beautiful but seemingly unnecessary reimagining of the fan-favorite adventure game originally published in 2013. The graphical facelift on offer in this remake is impressive, but some annoying bugs and somewhat meaningless changes hold this from being an essential purchase, especially if you’ve already enjoyed the original.

Originally released eleven years ago by Starbreeze Studios and directed by the now legendary Josef Fares, the original Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons launched to critical acclaim. The remake, developed by Avantgarden, appears to focus on two main upgrades to the original: improved graphical fidelity and performance, and the addition of couch co-op. Of course, there are other additions and changes in this remake, such as a re-recorded soundtrack, but the bulk of the changes are related to presentation and cooperation.

The original Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and the remake share the same story, as any faithful remake would. Centered around a pair of inseparable brothers, the main story of the game focuses on the duo’s journey to save their single-father’s life. After falling ill, the father of the sons can only be healed with the water of a magical tree, located far across the realm. The pair must embark on an adventure through dark forests, perilous caves, towering mountains, and snowy tundra to save their family. The story here is nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster, with plenty of heartwarming and heart wrenching moments that should be experienced at least once. A few scenes have been tweaked from the original, but the main adventure remains largely intact (which is appreciated, as the original is quite good already).

The 2013 version of Brothers is a single-player game. The player controls both brothers with each side of the controller, with a trigger and joystick assigned to each son. The Remake stays faithful to this style of gameplay, with the exact same single-player controls as the original. However, the remake adds the ability to play through the entire experience in couch co-op, using two separate controllers. Local two-player is a fun and enjoyable experience that forces you to rely more on teamwork than coordination. Additionally, any game that includes local multiplayer gets bonus points from me since it is a genuine rarity in recent years.

That being said, I thought the inclusion of local play was an interesting choice; so many moments rely on single-player controls to properly convey story beats and gameplay challenges. The game is fundamentally about controlling both brothers, so playing with two people robs you and your partner of some of those moments. Heck, the entire game culminates in one beautiful trigger pull, which packs infinitely more of a punch when playing alone. I would recommend experiencing Brothers in single-player mode once first, then circling back for a second playthrough with a friend. The game is only around three hours long after all.

The Remake was built using Unreal Engine 5 (UE5), which I believe to be both a blessing and a curse. In terms of environments and atmosphere, UE5 provides a real visual treat. The stunning vistas from the original return here in grandiose fashion, but with a facelift that helps to fully realize the children’s book fantasy setting. The high resolution textures shine in both stunning daylight and fluorescent moonlight, providing a perfect backdrop for the intimate adventure shared by the protagonists. However, when it comes to character models, the UE5 treatment definitely does more harm than good. The original game utilized a more cartoonish character style that leaned into the folk tale feel of the world. In the Remake, characters look a little too realistic, just enough to take you out of most close-ups and make you study their uncanny looks instead of paying attention to the action.

Performance was largely steady throughout my playthrough. The Remake boasts two types of graphics modes, a 30 FPS fidelity mode and a 60 FPS performance mode. I played on performance but also tested the quality mode, and each ran quite smoothly. Obviously the quality mode looked more impressive, but performance mode really brought out the best of the PlayStation 5 and made for a very smooth experience. The soundtrack is excellent as well, as this version of the game uses a re-recorded live orchestra version of the music from the original. 

I did not experience many bugs, but one I did encounter was quite annoying. Anytime a cutscene would end, all sound would cut out. No amount of pausing or settings meddling would fix this; only by exiting to the main menu would I get sound back. This happened around halfway through the game and stuck for the rest of the experience, significantly hindering it for me. A few NPCs would also sometimes get stuck in geometry around the world, but none of that was nearly as detrimental as the audio glitch. Even with those technical errors, the experience was far from ruined.



Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons Remake

Review Guidelines

This retelling of the 2013 game stays largely faithful to the source material and adds some valuable improvements. If you’ve already experienced the original I think you can sit this one out; but newcomers should experience this remake at least once.

Nicholas Aguilera

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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