Have you ever had a brother? Ever wished for him to disappear? If this indeed happened, would you rejoice? Or chase after him?
This is how Max: The Curse of Brotherhood starts. What follows is a 2.5D platforming, physics based adventure across a strange land where we see our protagonist, Max, climb, run, jump, and swing (in that order) his way to saving his brother, Felix. I still haven’t decided yet if this is for the better.
Max returns home to find his younger brother messing with his s***. Understandably PO’d, Max Google’s a curse to make his brother disappear. Seems reasonable. The curse, however, comes true and Felix gets warped away to another land. Max, immediately regretting his decision, jumps in the portal and chases after his brother.
In short order, we learn that a cranky old man is stealing kids, and it’s up to us, with the assistance of a cranky old lady, to defeat him. We’re gifted a magical marker that allows us to lift earth pillars, draw branches, vines, and water streams to help us navigate this 2.5D side-scroller.
The gameplay is more than a typical side-scroller too, as we are empowered with the ability to shape the land around us through the handy marker. As we progress through the levels, we unlock new abilities, starting out with the ability raise little pillars of land. Next we get the ability to draw and cut branches and vines, with vines granting us the ability to swing ourselves or physics objects from branches to the next landing, and lastly we get the ability to draw powerful water streams.
The best parts of the game are when all the powers come together for the physics based puzzles. You may find yourself sliding down a hill or jumping from a crumbling stone stair case and suddenly propelled into the air with water streams and having to draw some handy vines to swing yourself to safety. The highlight of the mechanic would definitely be the intense final puzzle.
“The game is good looking” is somewhat understated. The lighting is especially mention-worthy on a couple of levels that involve deadly fireflies, and a very dark cave sequence where all you have is the magic marker to light your path.
Max the Curse of Brotherhood is a quaint little game that has a lot of heart. It’s very pretty, and has a lot of cool, epic moments and some neat puzzles. For all intents and purposes, it is short, but there are plenty of collectibles to search for.
There’s nothing actually wrong with the game that’s offered, but with the things that are missing. The capacity to draw the branches and vines is great, but becomes very restrained in scope as to how much you can draw and where. Secondly, considering this is an Xbox title, Kinect functionality for the drawing mechanic would be fun to use. Don’t get me wrong, don’t force it, that would be brutal, but an option to play with would have been nice.
In conclusion, the game is a unique little platformer with some fun ideas. It doesn’t have the same level of polished mechanics that its brethren may share, but given its artistic style, it is a nice addition to the library.
It’s also a good thing that Max is a better brother than I. If left up to me, at that age, this story would have ended prematurely.
He is The One (Huh, time really DOES slow down when you’re in danger.) – 10G
Ludicrous Speed (Reached the old lady in under 5 minutes.) – 50G