AJG’s Weekly Indie Spotlight: Two Brothers
Two Brothers is an action-adventure game that features a classic Game Boy art style and design. The game is developed by Ackk Studios which consists of Brian, Andrew, and Brigid Allanson, Ian Bailey, Jose Alfaro, and Tony Manfredonia. It is currently available on the Humble Store and on Steam for Windows and will see future releases on Mac, Wii U, Linux and Xbox 360.
Two Brothers tells the tale of Roy Guarder, a scientist who ends up walking a thin line between the living and the dead. For some reason, his body can travel between the real world and the afterlife. After seeing a world of color in death, the scientist sets out on an adventure to explain his findings. How can he return to life? What are these strange colors? With the help of his brother, Bivare, the two set out on an epic journey between life and death.
What drew me to this game so much was its story. Not to sound morbid or anything, but death kind of fascinates me and the idea of what happens after is one of the most intriguing and mysterious things I can think of. Two Brothers plays with the idea of life and death and the afterlife in a unique way that most games don’t do. When you actually die in-game, you get to walk around a heavenly after-life before returning back to Earth. While here, you can actually talk to the deceased and learn things about the world below you would’ve never known otherwise. It’s kind of a cool mechanic.
Besides the story it’s hard not to look at this game and not be taken back to the early 1990s. This game lifts the art style of old Game Boy adventure games so well that sometimes you’ll forget what you’re playing. Now, without a doubt, Two Brothers looks a lot better than what you’d find on the old Nintendo handheld, but you can’t argue that it looks so good while scratching that nostalgia bone.
I also love the fact that the inclusion of color compliments the story of the game. Color’s will appear and disappear, becoming as foreign and magical to the player as they feel to the main character. Whether in color or black and white, Two Brothers is a gorgeous looking game that constantly gives the player new things to look at.
The world of Two Brothers is…different. It’s strange, to say the least. That may be what makes exploring and progressing forward so enjoyable. House’s seem to be made from giant animals, strange creatures walk alongside humans, and there’s always something that just seems, off. This ain’t your mama’s Earth.
Playing Two Brothers is probably most comparable to The Legend of Zelda but with a world map and certain RPG elements, I’m also reminded of games like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, minus the turn-based combat. You control Roy, mingle around town, explore dungeons, defeat bosses, and progress through the story through dialogue and cutscenes. It’s all very familiar but the unique ideas and world that Ackk created makes the game feel surprisingly fresh despite it’s comfortable battle mechanics.
Roy is a simple hack n’ slasher. Easy as pie. You run up to enemies and you strike them. Roy also can shoot enemies at a distance with his bow, but most of the time I’d rather just cut ’em up. From what I’ve played, the fighting is really the weakest point of Two Brothers. There’s no real defense or strategy to the majority of enemies you encounter so most of the time you’ll just charge and chop and move on. While you can also find new weapons to equip, I really haven’t seen much of point to it.
That’s not to say that Two Brothers is boring. Far from the contrary. Beyond it’s mysterious and intriguing story, there are plenty of ways Ackk has you interact with the world. I’ve come across plenty of puzzles already that test your speed and your brain. The areas are fun to explore, there are secret areas, breakable walls, and tons of things to see. Then you get to some of the bosses and man, are they cool. Many of them are enormous and use different tactics to fell Roy. One giant beetle has to be defeated by walking inside it’s stomach at the right moment and attacking it’s heart. Again, Two Brothers never shies away from “strange.”
What has been the biggest bummer of Two Brothers are the amount of glitches and bugs I’ve run into. I’ve had sound cut out on me, a weird humming noise played over the music, system freezes, I’m pretty sure I passed a puzzle by glitching through a door when I should have died, and well you catch my drift. There’s a lot of things that go wrong when you play this game. Luckily most of these problems correct themselves within a minute or two so I can’t really knock the game too hard but I can’t help being worried every time I enter a new area thinking something is going to break. That’s not a great feeling. Hopefully Ackk has noticed some of these problems and will have the kinks worked out within the next couple of weeks and for future releases.
Before I bid you adieu, I have to mention the music of this game. Because it’s fan-f***ing-tastic. The quality of the work is easily on par with some of the best videogame soundtracks out there. Nearly every new area features a new tune that works and sounds extremely well. I really wish they offered a way to buy the album because I wouldn’t hesitate. Between the great story, amazing music, and fascinating world, I’d definitely recommend players to check out Two Brothers. While there are certainly some problems with the game, there’s a lot here to enjoy you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
Check out more on Ackk Studios and Two Brothers at their official site here!