The younger brother is a bit of a trickster. He has a natural ability for the musical arts. He is kind to animals, preferring to set birds free from the cages that trap them than to see them chirping sadly in captivity. Yet as a young spirit, he finds himself leaning towards the inquisitive, playful and sometimes naughty side: teasing a bunny along the way or mischievously creeping up on an unexpecting villager. He is far more trusting and curious. His sometimes daring nature and carefree attitude lands him in trouble but at times, it is just what is needed to further a journey.
The older brother lacks musical talent. He knows personal property and respects it. Animals do not seem to take a shine to him but his heart is kind. You can see this in his gentle handling of them, and in his polite behaviour towards villagers. As the elder, he sees that his younger sibling is cared for, and encouraged in the journey ahead.
It is how I played his role without hesitation.
It is how the game designed his role, and perhaps wanted him to be played.
And I struggled to do so.
This is what your older brother is supposed to do for you! In my case, even though I am the youngest, I am also the shortest. So... this is what my siblings would have to do to help me out anyway.
Playing Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was a bit of a challenge for me for possibly strange reasons. I am right-handed. With the young brother set to be controlled on the PS3's right control stick, I found myself having to make a conscious effort to forge ahead with my left hand: which were the controls for the older brother.
The controls presented some difficulty for me in that as playing the older brother, I wanted him to shield his younger sibling from danger. I tried to always set the older brother to look ahead to take the brunt of any immediate threats. I had him exploring territory to ensure safe passageway.
Later in the game, there were moments where running from danger meant I wanted to put the younger brother ahead of the older. The brilliant design saw the younger faltering behind as weaker, shorter legs may very well perform in real life. Later still, the older brother was happy to charge forward leaving his younger sibling to fall behind. It was heart-breaking for me but I understood the narrative was being driven in that moment.
With a press of the designated buttons to control each other the brothers' actions respectively, the game is enriched by injecting the brothers' personalities through their interactions with each other, objects and inhabitants in the world. It's mostly up to you to discover the little personality traits scattered throughout the game and add some depth to help shape the narrative.
Some months before, I downloaded the demo. During my playtime, I wanted to experiment with the game. The demo tossed me into a situation chosen to primarily showcase the mechanics of game play.
It was there I did a horrible thing.
I let the younger brother fall to the jaws of a vicious dog. I wanted to see if the older brother would react to that action.
He did not.
There were no screams. No motions to save the younger brother. It was merely a fade to black.
No, I didn't actually sit outside in the snow to play this game. The pictures of benches will make sense eventually.
With a snowy, quiet Sunday afternoon as my setting, in lieu of wrapping the presents I was supposed to be attending to; I played the game in its entirety. In the few short minutes it took from the start of the journey to get to the demo portion with the dog, I understood fully what I needed to do.
I never let the dog touch any of the brothers, and carefully made my way across that area with a singular thought in mind: Protect my younger sibling.
It was those moments when I had no other choice but to send my younger brother along first that I felt incredibly uneasy.
I cringed having recalled my reprehensible experiment having known nothing of the game when I played the demo.
As I continued playing, I already knew a part of the reason as to why I was so enamoured with the journey in every step made.
Romantic relationships are at times the sort of themes in movies, television and games that are of little interest to me. Some portrayals can feel tacked on, uninspired and frustratingly unnecessary.
It is the same for my video games. I rarely do well with the over-saturation of damsel in distress stories. As one who plays a lot of JRPGs, a love story is a fairly prevalent theme and one I tend to ignore. I have learned to accept them as just being the norm for the most part. I tend to dislike the theme, and ultimately the game, when it becomes the central focus. Of course, it all depends on the characterization of the parties as well and that is subjective based on personality types I tend to gravitate towards.
That is not to say I always dislike love stories in my games. Goddamnit, I'm a huge fan of Elena and Drake in the Uncharted Series. I know though that because I'm just a fan of their individual personalities that makes it palatable for me.
There's also the hilarious and well-crafted dating sim elements to the Persona series that had me dating many of the girls in Persona 4 on different file saves. However, I found myself groaning at the typical, irrational, idealized and romanticized relationship built with Rise. Girls twirling their hair, acting 'cutesy' and pining for attention are not for me.