When I first saw the trailer for the remake of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, I was somewhat puzzled. Upon its original release onto 8th-generation consoles, it was met with critical acclaim and made Josef Fares decide his passion and ambition should be game design over filmmaking, a wise choice indeed. But the original is widely available and easy to pick up and play, so I thought there might be something quite significant with this remake. Is there? Well, yes and no, and I’m both delighted there is a nice new version of this fantastic game, but also disappointed with the feeling it just feels like it’s a product of the remake trend.

What is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons?

We set off on an epic journey with two young boys, brothers who have decided to venture forth in search of a cure for their father’s prolonged and fatal illness. As the boys proceed through a fantastical world of Scandinavian folklore, we see through their eyes, the eyes of children, the vast beauty and represented horrors that we see in the real one.

Through teamwork and determination, the boys and the player(s) will go through all manner of perils from flesh-eating orcs, to nightmarish creatures that lurk in the darkness of night, and things much worse. And the unique dynamic here with Brothers is that it’s a co-op game, without the co-op. Before the gameplay and duality of play were all done with one person, using each analogue stick and triggers of the controller to move and interact with each brother.

It was a strange design choice, but one that paid off incredibly well, I felt an option to allow two players (be it may tamper the experience in some negative ways) would be a good choice to include. And that is one major inclusion with the remake, that two players can now play and enjoy this critical darling, unlike previously. So this is quite a worthy addition.

But the core gameplay experience and the USP was the idea of controlling both of these boys in moments of individuality and seeing them work together perfectly through hardships and turmoil. And to experience all of these unique gameplay mechanics through an emotionally rich adventure.

The drama of life, love, loss and the sad lady who sings

In 2013 gaming was going through an amazing shift, with the likes of Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us and Brothers all coming out and providing video games that could have an emotional backbone that delivers powerhouse moments. And director Joesph Fares was a film director, who then turned his signs to video games and never looked back. I do greatly admire him for doing this and for over 10 years working on some terrific games which deserve plenty of praise and the awards won.

Brothers was and still is a powerhouse of a game when it comes to delivering sequences of gravitas, be it through beauty or tragedy. And now we have plenty of games which have been influenced by Brothers, providing it's impact in the indie and AAA gaming spcae.

I thoroughly connected with Brothers, as I have an older brother and seeing how these two react and interact with each other and the world, it’s clear Joesph truly understands this dynamic (or has a brother). There are tender moments of learning, wisdom being shared, brothers acting like good balls, adapting, and seeing the world before them change for better and worse.

I will admit, I did find some of the more dramatic moments a little overbearing, particularly due to the overabundance of emotional cliches (like the high-pitched singing woman who was popular in the 2000s). And the very end just feels so abrupt and again, a little overly emotional. I felt if key scenes were just restrained, or played out slightly differently, they would work so much better.

However, there are quieter moments which allow you to reflect and absorb the emotional weight of a scene, even diving deep into dense themes centring on loss, and forgiveness. Even now there are such profound moments which have stuck with me after 10 years. Not to spoil too much (and skip to the next section if you wish to avoid spoilers), but there is quite a famous scene in the game where you come across a man attempting to hang himself. It’s a truly bleak moment but one handled terrifically through its visuals and gameplay. It could have ended so badly but the scene is very respectful and adds in so much as the boys help him, with the older propping up the man, and the younger untying the noose. There is more to this scene but even thinking about it brings out some raw emotion in me.

These quiet moments make the game, and Joesph did learn from this when he made A Way Out and It Takes Two. The journey and its events are quite perfect in execution, as the interactions, the flow of the story being perfectly handled, and the relationship between the brothers made me overlook the more obnoxious moments in the story. Although for the remake, I had hoped the end would be adjusted to play out a little more sombrely and less abruptly. Maybe even include a couple more chapters, as the running time feels sped up towards the end.

Brothers has a simple story, yet one filled with fantastic moments of emotional ups and downs, and interesting thematic elements which are quite flawlessly interwoven into the gameplay. It never outstays its welcome, and while I wish there was just a little more content, it was utterly gripping from start to finish.

Double the trouble, now with prettier graphics!

Reflecting upon my opener, where I said I was confused at this remake’s existence overall. I don’t have an issue with a remake being present but find it odd as the original game itself still looks amazing, having a particular style which is fantastical and somewhat animated, and ran perfectly well even on older hardware.

Regarding graphics and presentation, there is a clear visible boost in fidelity, as this remake is running on Unreal Engine 5. Brothers do look impressive, with an upgrade to lighting, textures, and touches like water, fire and smoke all looking phenomenal. Certain areas feel visually enhanced, with a denser sense of fidelity and atmosphere. Hiking up the mountains to see mist covering the world below, splashing through rivers, and venturing through the night with just a flaming torch all look magnificent. With the most breathtaking scenery being the snowy lake, and the Tree of Life at the end. It’s worth playing this again, just to see these levels in all the Unreal Engine 5 glory.

While the original game does still look good, the remake pushes the visuals as far as it can go, without spoiling what made the original so humble and beautiful.

Performance-wise, there is a little more to discuss here. While there is a graphical boost making the game look more photorealistic and grander in scope, it shouldn’t be too taxing on a decent bit of hardware. Games like The Callisto Protocol are jaw-dropping, and even in performance mode run well (for me on PS5) and still look stellar. Brothers while on performance mode doesn’t feel much smoother, and bumping up to Quality doesn’t make much difference at all. The remake doesn’t even feel like it’s reaching 60 frames per second, feeling just as constricted as something a couple of generations back.  

I get it, I’ve played games back in the day that were 12 frames per second. But on a PS5, there should be no issues, especially with a game that does nothing too taxing. It should feel and flow much smoother, particularly in performance mode. Thankfully I had no hard crashes myself (as at the time of this review, other critics have noted this), or major bugs. This side of performance ran very well for me on PS5. But there’s something very off with the performance of Brothers, or more so something lacking. It looks amazing, and I love the respect to never outright change anything. But when playing, I felt something was holding back Brothers’ true potential in the area of performance.

Gameplay-wise, nothing has been tampered with, and it all remains intact. Much of what happens in Brothers is simple design but varied in gameplay set pieces, puzzles and explorational awe. The two-for-one duality of gameplay works incredibly well, as the brothers will help each other swing from pivot to pivot along a crumbling bridge, trap a massive orc in a cage, fend themselves against wolves with fire in a dark forest, and use boats, gliders, and other bits to traverse great stretches, while also avoiding certain death.

The core interactions are simple yet meaningful due to the variety of set pieces, and pitch-perfect pacing across the campaign. There are good moments of exploration, environmental storytelling, and exchanges of gameplay which feel different from the last. Such as firing a gigantic crossbow on a battlefield of giants, to move a giant corpse off a path, or disguising the brothers as a blood-soaked monster to scare off a gathering of tribal warriors. All simple, yet neat and even downright creative ways of interactions and actions.

With this remake comes one major feature, and that is the actual co-op now, which is both a blessing and a curse in my eyes. Now I have touched on this, as the original’s point of view of co-op/non-co-op gameplay is odd but also oddly satisfying and rewarding to play in a single-player manner. But having the choice to play Brothers in co-op is a good choice. And it works well, but also takes away from the core experience.

To be fair, I love the inclusion and it makes sense. But as many of the interactions focus on each brother doing something, or waiting for the other to do something, you’ll find the simple interactions become even simpler and a little less exciting. And particularly at the end, where it becomes more or less a single-player game for the last 20 minutes …

The great thing about the original was that while performing the actions for each brother was simple, doing them at the same time, multiple times in various ways was an excellent exercise in cognitive thinking. A bit like rubbing your belly and your head at the same time. Now it’s just like you rubbing your head, and your partner/buddy rubbing your belly. It’s nice, and can be fun, but doesn’t feel as rewarding and is a little underwhelming.

But I still love that two people can finally play together and experience a great journey with some excellent set-pieces and memorable moments of environmental story-telling.  

Aside from the graphics and two-player co-op option …. There isn’t much else here. If you own the 2015 Director’s Cut which includes a commentary and other bits, then no surprise that all of that is here, and quite frankly nothing else at all. This is a very by-the-numbers remake, much like The Last of Us Part One remake, which has everything recreated from the ground up, and not much else at all.

It's a shame, as with these cases, I want there to be more extras. And even more of a shame, we could have had new levels, new interactions and maybe some critical tweaks to make this the definitive version of the game. While I appreciate the visual upgrade and co-op, these aren’t enough to make me want to buy the game again, when there is a perfectly good enough version already available.


Brother’s: A Tale of Two Sons is still a magnificent adventure of discovery and sadness. Even after 10 years, this remains an important gaming achievement for its environmental story-telling, and innovative approach to co-op games. Having a remake of this is a great idea on paper, and while visually grandiose, there is little else to whet your appetite. The visual upgrade and the two-player functionality are great additions, but without anything else to flesh out the overall package, it’s not entirely a worthy return for the asking price. Especially when the original versions of the game, including the director’s cut which has all the extra content, are already out, and perfectly fine to play.

To be clear, I do feel the remake has been handled incredibly well, and for those who’ve not played Brothers before, then please do so now as this is truly a great game. However, for a celebration of such a terrific game, there should have been more I feel. This is still by its merit a fantastic game and has all the extras to enjoy (from the director’s cut) making it a must-have for anyone who has not played the game before. But like me, those who have, it’s not picking up right away. And most importantly, it could have given us so much more.

++ Still a ground-breaking, and immense gaming experience
++ Looks and sounds amazing, especially with the new visuals.
+ The new two-player co-op feature is a welcomed addition.

-- No new extra content added in. Missed opportunity.
- Two-player co-op undermines the core experience of Brothers.
- Visual upgrade looks good, but performance is hit or miss (framerate in particular).

A PS5 copy of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake, was kindly provided by the publisher for this review.