Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons

 

Data
Break Up
Game: Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
Developer: Starbreeze Studios AB
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: Sep 3, 2013
Platform: PC / Played on Windows 7
Overall rating:  5/10
Graphics: 10/10
Controls: 9/10 (simple)
Level/Puzzle Design: 6/10
Sound: 8/10
Story: 3.5/10 (started great, ended awfully)
Playability/Gameplay: 1/10
Community: N/A

 

Review

This is a beautiful, yet most infuriating game.

I read reviews where people complained about the controls, but to be honest I had zero troubles with them as they’re super simple (basically just one button and one stick for each, and hardly anything else). Both with a keyboard and with a controller I was able to use both brothers without issue (even if the keyboard wasn’t particularly comfortable)… that is, until the game bugged out.

This game is beautiful in that it has pretty graphics and (for the first half) a very lovely story. The puzzles are very, very simple, the only time I ever got stuck was because, again, the game bugged out. If you’ve played Ico (PS2) you might like this one. It reminds you a bit of it, but it’s a lot simpler and has a much crappier ending.

Besides the ending not being to my taste, the game is, as I said, filled with bugs that made it impossible for me to play properly. When it wasn’t crashing with a “P13” error and needing to be re-verified for the third time in the same day, it was a checkpoint bugging out that not even a chapter restart could solve (just to count a few I had: puzzle not working, character disappearing through ground and falling to death, character disappearing, cutscene not playing and thus having to restart chapter to move on, character not jumping though the keys/buttons were pressed and falling to death, character jumping across gap… and then jumping right back and refusing to move forward except to jump forward and jump back again…. all that in less than 3hrs gameplay.)

What could improve this game: Besides a completely different ending, this game would be highly improved if they fixed the bugs, and would be even more interesting if it had an option to play real co-op with someone else (that is not on the keyboard next to you) if you wanted to. I love controlling both brothers at once, but I think it’d be slightly more challenging if you had to cooperate with another person rather than yourself. 😛 There’s not enough co-op games where you actually have to plan and co-op with someone, which is why this would be nice.

To sum it up: I recommend it for the first part of the story, and because I love these kind of games. I recommend it only if it’s on a bundle or super cheap, otherwise don’t bother because the bugs are too annoying. And I’d recommend it even more if it weren’t because of the bugs (maybe you luck out and have none, or maybe you get the curse I did and have them all.)

If you want a really really nice story tho, go play Ico.  😉

Lost Lands: Dark Overlord

This review was originally written for WalaWala Games.
A free copy of the game has been provided in exchange for an honest review.

Title Lost Lands: Dark Overlord Collector’s Edition
Platform: PC
Developer: FIVE BN Games
Genre: Adventure / Action / Puzzler

Lost Lands: Dark Overlord

Developer Five-BN Games brings us Lost Lands: Dark Overlord, an adventure/hidden object game in which you take the role of Susan, who must rescue her son from the evil forces that have kidnapped him and taken him to another land to… use him for evil means, as usual.

This is a fairly typical hidden object styled game, and as such, both story and the general logic behind some of the puzzles and items to acquire follow a similar path (and thus, similar downfalls) to most other games of the genre: meaning it’s nothing original and logic flies out the window half the time.
That said, Lost Lands: Dark Overlord is definitely a bit above the average HOG game, and definitely on a good path.

Let’s start with the audiovisual. The background art is really nice; they pay plenty of attention to background details, and most of the areas are really beautiful. The models and characters are pretty decent, but them, as well as the voices given to them, suffer from lack of expression. The characters ‘smile’ by hardly moving their mouths in an upward fashion, the mother’s re-encounter with her son goes only as far as a half heartfelt “Oh, jimmy.” and overall it’s just not the best. However, it’s also not the worst I’ve encountered, and you can kind of tell there was an attempt at giving some sort of emotional intonation to the text.
The cutscenes were alright too, though there were a couple ‘transitional’ ones that I’m not sure were really needed. The music was nice, soft enough that I was not bothered by it, and seemed to fit the setting.

The game has various difficulties: Easy/normal/hard plus a slightly custom one as you can select how fast or slow hints take to recharge and what you want ‘help’ with or not, which was a really nice addition.

Once in, you’ll find it also has many collectables to find throughout the areas in the main story, all of which were quite easy to spot – I’d think this lowers the replayability quite a bit, as completionists will surely not miss them on the first play through and thus would have no reason to go back and replay it.

There are several things I really enjoyed about it:

  • It has a decent map system with fast travel – clicking on a map location takes you straight to it. The map also has the typical hints of where something needs doing and where you are, as well as an added hint of where you haven’t found a collectable yet (but only if you play it on easy, normal, or custom with those selected).
  • There was a little ‘pet’ you find that helps you with getting certain items. I always enjoy when they add little companions because it somehow makes you not feel so ‘alone’.
  • The customization choices for the difficulty (which I took full advantage of).
  • The great variety of puzzles.

Though most of the puzzles were a little too easy, I did enjoy playing through most of them. Lost Lands: Dark Overlord has a great variety, having only a few hidden object scenes (a couple by list, a couple by shape), some ‘logical pair’ scenes (flower with vase, etc), and puzzles ranging from slider to swapping to connecting and rearranging, to repair and/or reassemble the machine and a few recipe-based “make this item”, which I really like… It kept the game fresh not to have too many repeats.

Another interesting feature was that, in some of the puzzles where you first needed to find everal of an item, you would usually find most of those together in one single location. Some you still had to find separately, of course, but not having to find every single glass shard of a stained window, for instance, was actually quite nice.

Something I would have liked to have was for more of the ‘press things in a specific order’ puzzles to have the ability to put the little piece of paper with the order nearby to see it as you could in some of the rearranging puzzles. It got a bit tiresome having to open the book every time if you couldn’t recall the order.

The hidden object scenes were also rather easy, as some of the items stood out a bit too much (I seriously ended up getting at least half of them without even reading the list first).

There were no outstanding bugs through my gameplay, though my game did crash once (when I tried to switch from full screen to window in the middle of the game) and froze another time (for no reason whatsoever). Fortunately, it seems to have a pretty sturdy auto-saving system for I went back both times exactly to where I had left off and I was able to play on without major issues.

There was one thing that was a bit bothersome though, and that is: when you start the bonus chapter, on the initial sequence when she dreams about being needed, her hair is longer than on the main story; yet when she’s going through the portal and afterwards her hair is shorter again (and she’s wearing other clothes, too) as the cutscene was clearly reused from the main storyline. While I can see why the scene was reused, it was a bit of a sloppy thing that removed consistency in the storyline.
I’m also confused as to why the initial dream sequence seems like it’s setting up the bonus as a horror story when it’s not, haha. Maybe that last was just me reading too much into it, though.

I was lucky to get the Collector’s Edition to review. As usual, these come with a bunch of unlockable extras (wallpapers, concept art, etc), the choice to replay puzzles 8without having to replay the entire game), as well as the main story + bonus story (in which you go back to help some underwater beings from being extinct). The main story is fairly short, and the bonus is even shorter. With just around 3 hours of gameplay between both, Lost Lands: Dark Overlord might not be challenging or overly original, but it’s still fun to play.

I’ll be looking forward to see how they improve on future releases!

Overall Rating: 7/10