So, I have already discussed the game Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons in a recent post, but I was merely using it as an example and recommendation and did not really delve into the game or narrative too much. Frankly, the game does one thing that I find amazing; it forces you to actually experience the climax and resolution of the narrative and it is not a happy one. Obviously from this point on: SPOILERS!
Unlike a lot of video games, Brothers is kind of depressing and I say that in the most profound and complimentary way possible. You are not an overpowered superhuman mowing down enemies before you nor do you have any incredible weapons at your disposal. It is an indie game and thus limited in its abilities and scope but good lord does it take full advantage of its resources. Each level is completely different and feels and looks like it is part of the rest of the world but is a land in to of itself. Seriously, the level of the giants manages to both be awe inspiring and a bit viscerally disgusting at the same time. The scenery and settings are breathtakingly rendered and each character is fully fleshed out, even most of the NPCs, without the use of back story or dialogue.
This is of particular importance because it makes you care about the world and characters, especially the titular brothers of the game. Of course, because this game is meant to be depressing, and I am pretty sure at least somewhat based on a folk tale, which are always not happy, the eventual ending is not one you would expect. Near the conclusion of the game the older brother is mortally wounded and the younger brother must obtain the waters of the tree of life, which is the original mission of the game anyways, to save him. Unfortunately, he is too late and his brother dies in his small arms. Yeah, feel the feels, people.
However, it is not quite over. At this point most games would give a quick cut scene of the younger brother mourning over the older brother’s grave. He would cry a bit and then continue on in his journey to try to save his father. Brothers is not most games. Instead, the game makes you, as the younger brother, grab your dead brother’s body and drag into the empty grave. Then, you have to push dirt onto the body to actually bury it. Yeah, the creators of the game wanted the player to actually go through the experience of burying their sibling. This is the climax of the entire experience and is necessary for the younger brother to become a more realized individual capable of saving his father and continuing on after the events of the game.
Which brings us to the lesson of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons experience matters. Whether good or bad, whether joyful or melancholy, whether passionate or serene; every bit and part is worthy of our attention and experience. Sometimes instead of distracting ourselves with a multitude of options on screens, we should allow ourselves to hear and feel the silence and thoughts we have around us. I’ll leave this in the words of one of the greatest satirist and minds today:
Thus ends today’s lesson.