August 30th, 2013
07:10 AM ET

Game Faces: Josef Fares

Video games aren't always seen as the best medium for storytelling. But I think they should be, for one simple reason: interactivity.

As the player, you're experiencing the story first-hand. Whatever happens to the protagonist of the story is happening to you as a player. How you act and react forms part of the story.

I think interactivity should, in theory, allow people to have a greater connection with the story. But too many games use non-interactive, cinematic sequences to show their most important scenes. At a time when games could hammer home the advantage they have over movies, the player instead puts down the controller to passively watch it unfold without his input.

So it's funny that it took a Swedish filmmaker to make a game that avoids cinematic tricks to tell his story.

Josef Fares has always been a hardcore gamer. His normal profession is to make movies, but he put that career on hold to try his hand at a game.

The result is "Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons," a game that tells a powerful story through the mechanics of the game itself. There are a few short, non-interactive sequences and no words of English in the plot.

In fairness, I've seen other games tell stories in creative ways. BioWare's "Knights of the Old Republic" sells its big twist through the player's actions. Others are adept at telling a story through the world itself. The "BioShock" series is particularly good at communicating everything through the environment you're in.

But "Brothers" is different: It's the first game I've ever played that tells a story through the controller itself.

The game sees two brothers on a quest to find the Tree of Life to save their ailing father. What makes it unique is that you control both brothers at the same time. The older brother is controlled by the left stick, the younger brother on the right.

It feels odd at first to have to control both brothers at the same time. But as you become more adept at controlling them, you feel like you're forming a closer bond with the brothers.

Being an older brother myself, I often found myself using the game's older brother to scout ahead. Others have said that they liked to keep the two as close together as possible. You're creating your own ideas and your own narrative with the characters based on your own actions.

There is much more to "Brothers" than that, but it's hard to convey in words where it takes you and how it moves you. Part of that is because to do so would spoil the experience. The main reason I can't elaborate further is because it's not something that's easily told - it's something you genuinely have to feel.

And that, for me, is the game's biggest triumph.

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Personal musings
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Steve Garett

    Wortless game, waste of money. I wish I had saved my money for GTAV

    September 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Reply

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