Review: Brothers A Tale of Two Sons Remake helps a classic look better than ever

Brothers A Tale of Two Sons can be seen now, over a decade on, as something of a landmark game. Directed by Josef Fares and made by the Swedish developer Starbreeze, it was originally released as a download-only game in 2013. It secured strong reviews at the time for its rich storytelling, sold well, and has been fondly remembered as the years have gone on. 

In 2015, Starbreeze chose to sell Brothers to its original publishers, 505 Games, for $500,000. Since then, the Italian company has extended the life of the fantasy adventure by overseeing ports to the Nintendo Switch and Amazon Luna, and now the production of a full-blown remake. This latter task has been taken on by the Milan-based studio Avantgarden, which is owned – like 505 Games – by Digital Bros.

Brothers A Tale of Two Sons Remake is an extremely faithful recreation of the original. It is technically solid, and makes a much-loved adventure look better than ever before. For newcomers to the game, this version should likely be the option to go for. Established fans of the original may feel that the remake is superfluous, however, especially if they happen to dislike the new, less stylised visuals.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake
The new lighting effects are best demonstrated by a short sequence set at night

Just like the 2013 version, Brothers A Tale of Two Sons Remake is a short, linear fantasy adventure which takes only around three to four hours to complete. The siblings of the title are the dual protagonists, journeying across their varied world in search of a cure for their gravely ill father. In practice, gameplay is essentially straightforward exploration punctuated by light puzzles which require close cooperation between the brothers.

Brothers was conceived of primarily as a single-player game, with both players controlled using different sides of the same gamepad. In strictly mechanical terms, this is still the most satisfying way to explore this world. The two-protagonist gameplay still feels novel in 2024. Gradually learning to mesh the actions of the brothers successfully to overcome challenges of climbing, timing, and logic has a unique charm. 

The game is also a very likeable local co-op experience, although on PC the experience will be more comfortable for the player using a gamepad, and less so for the one using the keyboard. 

Avantgarden have adhered very closely indeed to the original work of Starbreeze. They have preserved the 2013 game logic, puzzles, and level geometry. Their enhancements are all in the technical departments, and are notable. Brothers A Tale of Two Sons Remake makes the jump from Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 5, and that comes with the addition of Epic’s Lumen and Nanite technologies for greatly enhanced lighting effects and materials handling, respectively. 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake
The glider flight is particularly exciting in the two-player co-op mode

The game’s vibrant and varied settings look superb, and the reworked character models are emphasised with the addition of new close-up shots in the cutscenes. Avantgarden have also added some new, brief interstitial cutscenes which give the game a more cohesive and joined-up feel. All of this benefits the story, which is as moving as ever – perhaps moreso, given the more expressive characters. Gustaf Grafberg’s excellent music also returns, in a tastefully re-recorded iteration.

Attractive, eminently playable, and available on the current major platforms, Brothers A Tale of Two Sons Remake is easy to recommend to newcomers. While it provides no stern challenge nor a lengthy campaign, it retains an affecting story which is carried without (comprehensible) dialogue. Those who own the original may think twice about picking up this remake, however. Brothers A Tale of Two Sons Remake adds little that is truly new, outside of a well-executed new coat of paint on top of a thoroughly solid core experience.

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