By Tyler Lubben / November 29th, 2013
As I said before, Two Brothers is a game of glitches. There are two types of glitches, however. There are the manufactured ones that were put into the game as part of the story, warping the player’s perceptions of reality as they play. These are a fun feature in the game, especially a certain (exceptionally creepy) boss late in the game that uses these glitches to its advantage. Unfortunately, there is a multitude of regular glitches, as well- the kind that the developers obviously had no intention of including in the game. They run the whole gamut of the annoyance scale, as well- ranging from ignored hits and the aforementioned disregard for temporary invincibility to getting stuck on pieces of the environment, forcing you to reset the game to free yourself, all the way to game-breaking glitches that trap you in an unwinnable state. It was fortunate that I was able to get my hands on a pre-release build of the game that allowed me to warp out of this particular trap, or else this review would have been much shorter. There were also a few times after returning from the afterlife when I was inexplicably dropped into the middle of the ocean on the world map. The same invisible walls that would keep players from walking out into the ocean also kept me from getting back to dry land. This, again, could have spelled the end of my review had I not reached a spot that triggered an earlier cutscene, allowing me to return to the proper game space. Fortunately, it did not also reset my story.
Compounding the problems caused by the glitches is the fairly confusing interface and lack of direction in gameplay. Though the game is called Two Brothers, Roy spends much more time on his travels with a backpack-carrying man named Mark Humeny. Everything that Roy obtains during his adventure- from weapons to money to other collectible items- is carried in Mark’s backpack. Roy can then jump into the backpack at any time to equip different weapon, change outfits or review other items. To put it bluntly, I am not a fan of this feature- of not having everything available to you through a simple menu system. I didn’t like it when they did it in Fable 3, and I have not warmed to the idea since. The difference here is that, at least in Fable 3, your inventory was available to you whenever you wanted it. Conversely, at certain times in Two Brothers, Mark will leave you, and you will be completely locked out of everything you own aside from what you were already carrying. Not that it seems to matter much. Despite acquiring many interesting weapons, I really didn’t notice any difference in the amount of damage they dealt. As much as I would have liked to use the cool-looking weapons that released a burst of color whenever you swing them, I ultimately stuck with my trusty Trident for the superior DPS.
Just navigating dungeons can be a chore, as well. While the overworld looks just fantastic, the same cannot be said about the dungeons, which are often confusing and frustrating to navigate. I would say the majority of my ten hours or so with the game were spent just walking back and forth through most of the dungeons, trying to figure out just what I was supposed to do next. There are no maps to speak of, meaning that it’s easy to get lost. Even doors can be tricky to find at times. Sometimes what look like dead ends are actually the entrance to the next room- it’s all just a matter of basically walking off the edge of the room. Something as simple as an arrow appearing when you approached would’ve done wonders to help keep me on the right track. The puzzles, too, can be incredibly confusing at times. It took me quite a while to figure out some of the more tricky ones, which leads me to think that some kind of hint system would do a lot of good. You already spend the game with one companion or another, why not have them chime in after you’re stuck on a particular puzzle for a while? Leading up to the release, Ackk also claimed that Two Brothers features a large amount of sidequests. The problem here is that I never saw them. Either they’re hidden well, or they have yet to be utilized into the full game. There was something of a trading quest like those seen in many Zelda game, but I had almost no idea what to do with each item, and only made it a few steps into it, mostly out of luck more than anything else. There was also talk of a crossover with Yacht Club Games’ Shovel Knight, and I was excited to see what that was all about, but I never happened across that either. The game would’ve done well to keep track of my quests in some capacity, as, without anything to go on, I simply forged ahead with the main story, hoping that things would make more sense as I went.
There’s also no form of fast travel that I ever found. When a game wants you to go around looking for people to trade seemingly useless items with, it would be nice to be able to jump around the continent with ease, not trudging back and forth in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that one person you’re looking for in any given town. I thought maybe I was coming up on something in the way of fast travel near the end of the game during an exciting battle with a dragon, but alas, nothing came of this either. I think a lot of the problem with Two Brothers stems from this feeling that the game really only feels half-finished. Many structures in the game, while having open doors, do nothing when you try to enter them. Additionally, several areas out in the wilderness are massive- much larger than they really need to be- and serve almost as nothing more than big red herrings to the path you actually need to take to advance. I feel like more game was meant to be there than there was, but, after a while, I was no longer sure what I just couldn’t access yet, and what was simply impossible to reach. By the end of the game, I had pretty much given up on ever accessing them. The game could also benefit from another going-over on the script, as it is rife with spelling and grammatical errors.
As much as I wish I could like this game, there are just too many problems with it to be a really memorable experience. Despite the great story, art and music, the gameplay at some of the most basic levels is just too stunted to get much enjoyment out of it. It’s a real shame, too, as it’s obvious that Ackk Studios put a lot of hard work into the game, and care a lot about it, as evidenced by how engaged they are with their fans. As I said at the beginning of this review, there are some great ideas behind Two Brothers, but, as it stands now, even at the $10 price tag, I simply can’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone, unless they have the extreme patience required to muddle through the many low points. The game is constantly being updated, however, as well as making its way to the Wii U, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the future. After the wrinkles are ironed out, I’m confident that the game has the potential to be a classic. When that day comes, I’m sure Two Brothers will warrant another review, but in the meantime, I don’t think I’ll be firing this game up again any time soon.
Copy of the game provided for review purposes
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