Two Brothers hands-on preview

Jose Cardoso September 20, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Not all partners stick it out to the end. That’s what Jose Cardoso learned after playing an early excerpt of Two Brothers.

Two Brothers screen 1

So long as loyalty is at the forefront, abandonment isn’t a conscious worry for a brotherly duo. Brotherhood – be it through blood or shared experience – is capable of driving two people toward a shared goal. But could one be swayed by the temptations of selfish gain, leaving the other to reap their own rewards?

That’s a road Roy and Bivare, the cape-less stars of Two Brothers, have yet to travel down. But Roy – the brother you take control of – is on a road to greatness that the other is, based on early indications, simply accompanying him on. Will this journey, and the unequal roles it creates, inflict strain on the bond? Will it survive to the very end?

You need me, but you don’t

Roy doesn’t know what it means to travel light – you’ll be essentially carrying your house along wherever you go. And by that, I don’t mean having only portable comforts or the bare essentials in coat pockets. Mark, your first party member (who’s presumably a spot-holder for an absent Bivare), is more than your companion. He is your comfort zone, and it’s what he holds on his back that describes the bond the two share.

Within his hulking backpack lies a private closet to try on outfits – a private collection of goods. It’s where you can equip heavy weaponry like a diagonally-slit Buster Sword or a Saber while your privacy remains free of invasion.

Two Brothers screen 2

“Just call me when you’re finished,” he shouts from the outside world. And when you head back out, he’s there to provide backup during the tightest of encounters. Well, usually.

At times, Mark shifts from trailing close behind to stopping in place and not participating in struggles, which is to say there are assorted bugs – even to do with the stability of the environment – still to be corrected in the final version.

Through all this, there remains a single question on your mind: What would you do without him?

Worst fear

Upon reaching the swamp area – the last of two settings featured in the demo – Mark abruptly turns in the opposite direction. Not because he’s afraid, but because he’s concerned – more for the bag than his friend’s well-being. Whatever his defense, he abandons you.

But then you’re reminded that the bond shared is not by blood, so you can more readily forgive his voluntary exit. The fact that you’re introduced to a new party member helps too.

Your new ally chooses not to divulge even the slightest bit of personal history or reason for his suspiciously good timing, but you’re not one to refuse help in the dark and dank quarters you find yourself in. Now he’s your comfort zone.

Short-lived, that one is, for things take an unexpected turn and he ends up abandoning you as well – only for nobler reasons than your friend.

Two Brothers screen 3

Starting out with a partner and ending without one; are these signs that Roy is to be independent and self-sufficient later on in his quest? Who’s to say Bivare, his brother, won’t follow the same course, leaving Roy when he most needs a partner?

This question of whether or not the sibling dynamic will win out amid loss and instability is the core theme I took away from my brief time with Two Brothers. Just how many Roy will cross paths with remains to be seen, but piggybacking on the efforts of temporary allies may be the key to him reaching his destination, with or without his brother.

I have a nagging feeling, though – based on the demo’s intentional setup and omission – that the bond between Roy and Bivare will prove to be the only relationship with longevity and commitment.

Two Brothers, from Ackk Studios, is due for release on PC, 360, and Wii U. 

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