The DigestVideo

Games Of September 2013: Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons

When the left hand isn’t sure what the right hand is doing.

By John Teti • October 24, 2013

We wrap up The Digest’s proud Brooklyn-based run by coming full circle: Kotaku’s Evan Narcisse is here to talk with me about Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. Narcisse found the title to be misleading.

Our snack is maple-flavored quinoa, and it attracts attention from one of the feline members of the Gameological team. But when Nipsey The Cat encounters something that doesn’t seem appetizing to him, he simply doesn’t eat it. If only I had thought of that before I started up The Digest—it would have saved us a lot of misery!

The Digest will return once I settle into my new Midwest digs. Thanks for watching!

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  • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

    Awwwww. True fact (or at least fact I’m pretty sure is true): The Digest in which John and Evan discussed Journey was the reason I started posting on this site. I was pretty engrossed in the game at the time (for a while there I was playing it every night before I went to bed) and had a lot to say about it, and the atmosphere and level of dialogue I was seeing here was unlike anything else I had seen on the internet. John actually responded to some of my very first comments. Felt good. Stuck around.

    Also, if you go back to Evan’s very first appearance on the Digest, you can see a comment from Fluka complaining about the “Disqus change.” The more things change, eh?

    As for Brothers, from other mothers or otherwise, I was actually pretty tantalized by this title when I first heard about it. I’m a sucker for indie gems, and a four hour running time seems like it wouldn’t be too taxing a burden. But the control scheme kind of spooks me out. I’ve played a game with a similar control conceit before- Shining Tears, for the PS2- and just could not get my head around it. I might be more willing to put in the effort for an atmospheric independent offering that can be conquered in one sitting than I was for a mediocre action-RPG that would require a commitment of several weeks, though. The idea floated in the bonus ending up there about “same controller” multiplayer is a pretty fun idea, though. I tried getting my sister to do something similar with Shining Tears back in the day, but she found the game too boring. I should have listened to her.

    Come to think of it, the Digest has put a lot of indie darlings on my maybe pile that I’ve been meaning to get around to. I still want to try out Papers Please, that drugs game where you play as the hand, The Unfinished Swan… come to think of it, Jack gifted me Starseed Pilgrim for my birthday and I still haven’t gotten around to that… man, I gotta start playing more video games.

    • HobbesMkii

      That Fluka post was because it took us all a little bit to figure out how to merge our AV Club profiles with our GS profiles. John had to walk us through a few times.

      • Electric Dragon

        Having heard of bad experiences from other AVC people with merging, I’ve always steered clear of the merge and kept two accounts. With nuDisqus on AVC (which is not without flaws but does at least allow viewable profiles for all Disqus accounts) and the Great Site Merge, I may consider going through with the merge now.

        • HobbesMkii

          It worked fine for me, minus some hangups with my Alerts on the AV Club (I started racking up 11 alerts from months before I couldn’t get rid of), which have since cleared up. After the merge, I was able to have a unified account across all sites using Disqus, so there’s that benefit.

      • Fluka

        Yeah, I was originally an AV Club commenter named Meitnerium, but (predictably) got lured over here by the irresistible pull of Mass Effect 3 arguments. I decided to sign up for a throwaway account with my cat’s name, only intending to make a few posts (it wouldn’t let me use my AV Club name again). But then Disqus Magic made both accounts Fluka. And here I am today.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      For me, the game that comes to mind when I think of “two characters at once” is The World Ends With You. World had two screens to deal with, though, so it’s probably harder to get used to. It sounds like both play off the fact that your characters need to “cooperate”, with the challenge coming from managing two different characters at once.

      I still need to check out Brothers too. I’m glad it came out on Steam; I can’t think of many XBLA releases that don’t, these days.

      • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

        Actually, you’re right, TWEWY requires you to control two characters simultaneously, and that’s a game I love and am pretty good at. I think it’s mostly the movement that gets to me. In TWEWY your top screen character is always planted in one place, and Neku doesn’t really need to go anywhere in particular, he just has to stay mobile. Trying to move two characters with any sort of precision by using two different inputs was pretty stressful when I tried it before, especially when your characters get mixed up on screen, or when you need to move them in two different directions. Still, maybe I’ll be better at it now than I was back when Shining Tears came out. Or hell, maybe the whole thing is just better implemented here- it was kind of a hack job in Tears.

      • Newton Gimmick

        The definitive “two characters at once” game for me is “Mario and Luigi”. It took me a while to wrap my head around the two jump buttons.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      A friend of mine who’s among the most caustic, sarcastic and unsentimental people I know told me the other day on Facebook in the most earnest and heartfelt way that I need to play Brothers.
      It was the most convincing endorsement of the game I’ve yet read.

    • NakedSnake

      Am I crazy to think that Evan Narcisse was guest for the first ever Digest?

      • Enkidum

        That is completely insane. What the hell gave you that idea?

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      The Gameological Society
      Man, I gotta start playing more video games.

      BTW, I think that freaky drug-trip disembodied-hand game is called Datura.

      • Drew Toal

        I think I was on the Digest doing that game, but was all hopped up on Datura at the time so it might be a hallucination.

    • Destroy Him My Robots

      The Adventures of Cookie & Cream does the left stick/right stick controls as well and it’s excellent (probably my favorite from the PS2′s first year). It’s been one of my go-to multiplayer games for when people who don’t usually play console games are around (it’s easy to pick up, imaginative, co-operative, and not terribly demanding in the first levels) and has saved quite a few from having a terribly boring evening watching others play PES and Tekken. And yeah, it explicitly features a 2-player mode that works by sharing 1 controller (and even a special 4-player mode for 2 controllers).

    • dreadguacamole

      Brothers is more interested in telling a story than posing a challenge, so you should be fine. There are some harder bits, but the checkpointing is pretty good so it never really becomes too frustrating.
      Also, I can’t watch the video at the moment due to technical problems, but it must mention the way the mechanics tie into the storytelling – a gorgeous example of how game mechanics can be poignant. I really, really enjoyed this one.

    • boardgameguy

      I forgot about wanting to play Starseed Pilgrim. I guess I have another game to look for when it goes on sale or is included in a humble bundle.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

        It’s a wacky game for sure but be ready to try and try again, because hand holding is not in the game’s vocabulary.

        • boardgameguy

          That’s why I’m so excited to try it.

    • lloydd786

      $85
      associate degree hour! Seriously i do not recognize why additional folks
      haven’t tried this, I work 2 shifts, a pair of hours within the day and a
      pair of within the evening…And whats impressive is Im engaging from home
      therefore i buy longer with my youngsters. Heres wherever I
      went,www.Pro67.ℂom

    • http://i821.photobucket.com/albums/zz132/toemali/stuff/bosun.jpg Colliewest

      I didn’t watch that Digest cos I hadn’t played Journey yet so I’ll be off to check it out shortly. Yay Full Circle!

      I’d definitely say Brothers is worth a steam sale, and it’s eminently finishable.

      I think the reviewers were spot on – it’s got it’s transcendent moments and some humdrum ones too, but it’s very pretty and it’s different. (FWIW pretty much all of that applies to The Unfinished Swan, except that it’s still PSN only and it seems to me their exclusives stay that way).

      Truthfully I just put the left hand guy on the left side of the screen 90% of the time or just moved one guy at a time.

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  • The_Helmaroc_King

    I guess the digestive problems of a couple bros don’t amount to a hill of beans in this world. At least you’ll always have Park Slope.

    Here’s chewing at you, kid.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    Kind makes some fine snacks. They have a yogurt and dried apricot bar that is truly kick-ass.
    Of course, that’s kick-ass on the Sprouted-kombucha scale of applied natural foods, which is mapped as several axis below all other forms of kick-ass as laid out on the Mifune-Vader scale of quantifiable ass-kicking.

    • Jackbert

      My mother sent a care package with some radical vanilla blueberry bars. They taste wonderful, but they are exceptionally crumbly; you start out with a granola bar and end up with granola.

  • Citric

    I do not like Quinoa. It tastes like gross.

    • beema

      Quinoa pasta is fucking awesome

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I recommend boiling quinoa with peas, chopped almonds, raisins, and a few peppercorns. It’s delish.

    • Roswulf

      I’m still waiting for the teff fad damn it.

    • snazzlenuts

      My wife and I made this Quinoa dish as my introduction (she already loved it). It is pretty kick ass.

      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Quinoa-Stir-Fry-with-Vegetables-and-Chicken-357090

    • CrabNaga

      Aren’t Americans buying so much quinoa now that Bolivia and Peru (the primary producing nations) are literally going hungry because all their food is going to the US? There’s another reason to not eat it.

      • Fluka

        It’s also mildly toxic and can give you bad food poisoning if not prepared correctly.

        (That said, I also think it’s really yummy sometimes!)

      • SamPlays

        My quinoa comes from Costco, not South America, silly!

        And you know what Americans aren’t eating these days? Gluten. Sounds like a fair trade deal to me. Lets get those Peruvians and Bolivians chomping on some wheat and related grain species.

  • HobbesMkii

    Starbreeze also purchased Overkill, which makes them the developers of Payday 2, for added incongruity to their library.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    JohnnyBoy used WIST.
    It’s super effective!

  • CrabNaga

    John and Evan claimed to have enjoyed the snack today, but the way they kept knocking the bag over seemed to suggest a subconscious hatred of it. What aren’t they telling us?!

    Also: “now we’ll have a thumb war”?! The cadence and meaning is exactly the same as my preferred phrasing “I declare a thumb war,” but it just sounds so…wrong.

    • stakkalee

      I was just coming to say this! You can’t just have a thumb war! You have to declare it first!

      • HobbesMkii

        Well, it’s more of an executive thumb police action, that will run for less than 60 days and the thumb congress will be notified within 48 hours of the commitment of thumbs to any given theatre.

        • stakkalee

          Don’t the Geneva Conventions prohibit this sort of pollical agression? Or is John not a signatory to that treaty? So the Kim Jong Un of Park Slope conquers another hand. Dammit John! Don’t go all “rogue state” on us!

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      Also similar rhythm but totally unacceptable:

      “Fancy you a thumb war?”
      “I love me a thumb war!”

    • SamPlays

      I would interpret the bag-snacking dynamic differently. Knocking over the bag provides an excuse to pick it up, which increases the likelihood of eating. If you plot the rate of bag knocking over as a function of consumption, it shows a strong linear relationship. This is also demonstrated in a simple regression analysis: according to R^2, 86 percent of consumption is accounted for by the increasing rate of knocking over the bag. This is an astoundingly high correlation of 0.93. Interestingly, the constant (10.45) indicates that John and Evan would still eat 10-11 chips even without knocking over the bag.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      Yeah, it’s been a while!

  • Chip Dipson

    I’ve played this and loved it whole-heartedly. Without giving anything away, the ending affected me more than any other game I’ve ever played (even Journey).

  • Newton Gimmick

    I noticed the other day that McDonald’s has an “After Eight” pie.
    “After Eight” mints are delicious, but I can’t imagine that they would be good hot. Mints should be cool and refreshing. Am I just being narrow-minded here?

    • SamPlays

      There’s a whole world of disgusting snack options out there if you would just lower your standards.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      My work cafe at a previous job once offered a “hot salad” involving romaine lettuce. It was terrible.

      • stakkalee

        Damn that sounds unappetizing. Dare I ask what it involved?

      • CrabNaga

        I used to love eating salad with hot bacon dressing on Thanksgiving. I still enjoy it, but my love has waned significantly. It’s one of many regrettable foods that’s only really viable on a specific holiday.

      • a_scintillating_comment

        Yikes, I thought ‘hot salad’ was something you did to someone, not something you ate!

        • Bakken Hood

          Yeah, I’ve never heard of a “hot salad” but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in Alabama.

    • http://caspiancomic.com/gametheory caspiancomic

      I can’t speak to mints mints, but mint flavour can be palatable hot. I drink a serviceable mint tea to settle my stomach sometimes.

  • snazzlenuts

    First time I ever watched the Digest and thought “Man, that snack sounds good!” Well, other than the cake in the first episode.
    Oh! And I can’t wait to play Brothers, too! Looks really interesting.

    • CrabNaga

      Those donuts from the one series of episodes seemed pretty appetizing.

      • Jackbert

        Don’t forget Stak’s marshmallows!

        • snazzlenuts

          Shit, yes, those sounded good, too.

        • CrabNaga

          When I was a kid, I ate half a bag of marshmallows in one sitting, got sick, and subsequently ended up leaving a trail of white blobby splotches along the path to the bathroom.

          So I think I’m over marshmallows.

          • snazzlenuts

            I think I am, too, now. Thanks.

          • stakkalee

            Those jet-puffed monstrosities? You’re better off without them. Now my hand-whipped, gourmet marshmallows are something else entirely – this winter I’m experimenting with alcohol-flavored marshmallows! I figure something nice and bitter will pair well with all the marshmallow sweetness.

      • snazzlenuts

        Not a pineapple fan, but the orange blossom one sounded just fine.

    • snazzlenuts

      Okay, so maybe there are more than I am remembering.

  • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

    Anyone else get the email about Candy Box 2 coming out today? There were apparently 1.4 million unique saves on the original. One of those was my unfinished run. To me it feels like the game’s time has passed but maybe I’ll give the sequel a spin for old time’s sake.

    • Newton Gimmick

      It’ll have to wait until I’m finished with the new Phoenix Wright.
      I’m cautiously optimistic about Candy Box 2, though. I played through the first one a few times. I know a lot of people only enjoyed it for the novelty/shock value of the emergent gameplay, but I liked the strategic aspect of it. I enjoyed trying to find the quickest way to beat the developer.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      I didn’t bother with Candy Box for more than five minutes, but I am currently above 1.48 trillion dollars on Clicking Bad.

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    I’m kinda bummed now that I can’t buy these Park Slope snacks online.

    Though to Evan’s point about the (vaguely) misleading title of “Brothers”, where in the hell is our Blaxploitation third person shooter, video game industry? You make a bazillion generic military shooters a year and you can’t just re-skin one to match Black Dynamite?

    Watch this trailer and tell me it wouldn’t be a perfect video game! C’mon! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96Y24a0cyCE

    • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

      I’d pay good money for a Putney Swope visual novel a la Hotel Dusk or Ace Attorney.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      It does seem like a no-brainer. Of all things, Wii’s House of the Dead probably comes closest.
      But if nothing else, it’s worth making to pave the way for Sisters, featuring a mo-capped Pam Grier.

    • Fluka

      Sleeping Dogs seems like a good model for that, actually, as another game that mixes shooting, martial arts, and open world gameplay in a city with a very specific sense of location and genre.

  • Chum Joely

    Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has just been nominated (OK, by me) as a possible candidate for our 7th edition of the Game Revue Club. Who will second it? And which game will win it all and become the next game we dive into together?

    The three nominees we carried over from last time are Bastion, Hotline Miami, and (for some staggering, stew-filled reason) Cabela’s® Big Game Hunter™ Trophy Bucks, but we need more nominees. Could yours be the winner?

    Pop by the Gameological group on Steam and find the “Game Revue v. 7″ discussion, or just follow the above link!

    (I think I’m sitting too close to the marketing department at my job… scoots chair 6 inches further away)

  • boardgameguy

    Goodbye, Brooklyn.

    I was hoping that John would end this last installment with a mic drop but I guess unclipping his little microphone wouldn’t have the same effect,

    • Newton Gimmick

      At least we got a Nipsey cameo!

  • Thirsty

    Beautiful game.

    That moment (if you played it you know what I mean) is one of the more clever uses of the inherent gameyness of gaming I’ve experienced.

    But mainly it’s of course just a wonderful little adventure. I think it helps that an actual film director is behind it.

    I hope the game sells well so the people behind it want to make more stuff like that.

  • EmaWeatherford

    The Game is so very Interesting for Play .

    http://lumathin.net/

  • Steven Stadnicki

    Late to the party, but: I absolutely adore Brothers and wholeheartedly recommend it, but it also has some serious Gender Problems that diminish the experience a little bit for me. Certainly nobody goes into a game titled _Brothers_ expecting it to sail through a Bechdel test, but there are only two (maybe two and a half) female characters in the game and each of them is problematic in one way or another (and unfortunately some very spoilery ways, so I may already have said too much about it). Not every game has to be an exercise in gender relations, but for a game that got so much so very right (its sense of spectacle is better than anything else I’ve seen), to have it hit a sour note here is particularly jarring.

    • Thirsty

      I’d like to hear what you mean.

      Just throw a big fat SPOILER warning on your post.

      • Steven Stadnicki

        Well, then, SPOILERS HO – DON’T READ THIS POST IF YOU DON’T WANT THE GAME’S ENDING COMPLETELY SPOILED

        There are two and a half female characters in this game (I’m not counting any the half is someone who’s only around for a chapter, but plays a prominent role in that chapter). One (the mother) is dead; one (the female troll) plays nothing more than a classic victim role; and one (the female companion for the tail end of the game) turns into a man-eating monster (literally) and is responsible for the death of the lead brother after he thinks too much with his dick and not enough with his head and falls for her feminine wiles.

        It’s not just that there are no strong female characters in the game (that’s at least somewhat understandable for a game called _Brothers_); it’s that the one character who’s set up as a strong female character is then ‘torn down’. I don’t think the game is *actively* trying to say that ‘any competent female is evil and will eat you as soon as she gets the chance’, but the tropes involved are so old and hoary that it’s a little disappointing that apparently no one along the way said ‘you know, this game has a really shitty portrayal of women in general. Is there anything we can do to not take such a hackneyed approach?’.

        • Thirsty

          Interesting.

          Thanks.

  • johnshinobi

    Brothers is definitely my GOTY for this year.

    The graphics are right up my alley, not a single moment of the story is wasted or prolonged needlessly and lastly, but most importantly, the game design is among the most natural and elegant I have ever encountered in all my years of gaming.

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