Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a great game, one that deserves as huge an audience as possible. So it’s good that the 2013 game is out now for the family of iOS devices. But porting it over to Apple’s mobile devices robs the game of some of its charms.
As anyone who played it on console or PC knows, the key attribute of Brothers is its unorthodox control scheme. Big Brother and Little Brother’s movement and interaction are mapped to the left and right analog sticks and triggers, a feature that gets used to strong emotional effect in the game. The iOS version of the game replicates controls with virtual joysticks; tapping the on-screen control pad switches the Brothers into interaction mode when they’re close to specific objects or people. (An Android port is due this holiday.)
After spending about 30 minutes with Brothers iOS, I can say that the reconfiguration works. But it feels like a clunky compromise that winds up making the experience feel rougher than in its other iterations. I played the game on an iPhone 6 and it initially crashed multiple times. It took me quitting all other apps and rebooting my phone to get the game running properly. And even then, it chugged and was such a processor hog that my phone get very warm after only a few minutes.
Ultimately, since it’s available on PC and current and last-gen consoles, Brothers is best experienced elsewhere. The sense of mythic scope doesn’t translate well to a phone screen and you don’t need to be fighting controls on a game that already challenges you to re-think you maneuver around puzzles and environments. You should still play this wonderful game, just not on this platform.
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