Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

The fairy tale that could only be told in a video game

This is award-winning film-maker Josef Fares' first game, so he's getting used to being treated like a tourist. But that's not really fair.

Fares describes himself as a hardcore gamer, and casually rattles off games spanning decades in conversation. And his conviction to Brothers is total - he's in the Starbreeze offices full time, and the game was never even considered as a movie. "It's a dream I've had for a long time," he says.

The plot focuses on two boys in a fantasy world, who set out on a journey to save their father. For the makers of Riddick and Syndicate, it's a leap into the fairy tale genre. The collaboration with Starbreeze began when Fares approached the developer. "I loved the idea, and on a personal level, we really got on," says studio head, Mikael Nermark. He makes it sound so simple.


Just as simple as the game itself: each thumbstick controls one sibling, and the trigger button acts flexibly, performing a context-sensitive move. It's a simple, loose system that lets the details of the game stay fluid. "Brothers is always changing, in terms of locations and gameplay," says Fares. "Have you played Trine 2? There's a great moment when you have to get water to a flower, and it turns into a platform. But when you do it again and again, it's not so satisfying."

It's an unexpected lesson that games could learn from films - a step back from the "tutorial, repeat until really hard" template that we've been conditioned to expect. But Fares isn't coming at this project from the idea that games should be chasing after movies.

This eagerness to keep everything moving, and repeat nothing, means the game will last around three to four hours, and that suits Fares perfectly. "People talk about replayability, to have games that last eight to ten hours. I want to give an emotional experience that you can finish in an evening."

Brothers is a sweet, melancholic fairy tale by a Swedish director. It's a niche we never knew we wanted filling.