Max: The Curse of Brotherhood Review
Iâm sure youâve all been faced with the classic problem; You decide to search online for a spell to banish your ball bag of a little brother to another dimension, find one, use it, realise it works, watch as heâs dragged through a portal in your bedroom by a giant hand, realise youâve made a boo boo, immediately feel guilty, realise youâre a horrible person and jump through the portal to rescue the little blighter. Itâs happened to us all and itâs good to see this issue finally being faced and presented to the public, albeit in an Â£11.99 Xbox Live Arcade download capacity.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a re-imagining of 2010âs Max and the Magic Marker and takes little Max on a mission through strange lands to rescue Felix, his young brother, whoâs suffered the aforementioned fate. The premise is a simple one, which is a good thing. Thereâs no unnecessarily convoluted plot here, used as a tool to disguise a poor game. Instead, we have a straight-forward story and a game that speaks for itself. I like the way it speaks. Itâs a game full of surprises.
The first surprise is how pretty this game is. The visuals are gorgeous. Although this is a 2.5D experience, it feels bigger and deeper. The textures are good, as are the physics and interactive elements of the environment. The lighting effects are particularly impressive, particularly in the cave sequences, in whichÂ Maxâs magic marker is used as a torch (more on this later). The entire game has a Pixar quality to it and this is accentuated in its cut sequences and set pieces.
Early on in the campaign, itâs easy to assume that Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a straight-forward running, jumping side-scroller. However, things get very tricky, very quickly. Do you remember the magic marker I mentioned earlier? I sincerely hope so. If not, get yourself checked out. Letâs assume you do remember, you weirdo. The magic marker is Maxâs only weapon and tool in this game. Unlike your average magic marker, the most anti-climactic of all stationary experiences, this one lives up to its name. Itâs been given certain abilities, which are individually unlocked as the campaign progresses. These enable Max to literally draw elements into the environment, which help in solving theÂ gameâs many puzzles, gaining access to certain areas and escaping enemies. These abilities range from erecting earth pillars, growing branches from surfaces and making vines, to name a few. These abilities can beÂ used by hovering the magic marker over particular, colour co-ordinated points, which act as prompts. The ability to not only alter elements of the environment but also the need to do this in very particular ways, makes for a challenging and unique platforming experience, which brings me to the next surprise; itâs difficulty.
To put it in scientific terms, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a right old ball ache. Some of the puzzles in this game result in more deaths than one of my Made in Chelsea fantasies. Some players have seen this as a negative point but, for me, the challenge doesnât stop being enjoyable. Itâs very tricky but also insanely-satisfying. Itâs easy to get overwhelmed with respect for how beautifully-craftedÂ and ingenious some of the puzzles are, but donât do that. You can ill afford to be distracted, or else youâll likely fall to your death, again.
The soundtrack to Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is unspectacular but atmospheric. However, youâll soon tire of Maxâs little prompts, like âWhat do I do now?â. Yes, Man, we get it. Thereâs a puzzle bit here. Shut up and let me concentrate. While youâre at, think about what youâve done. Youâre a terrible brother.
The finalÂ surprise is one that continues to surprise. Itâs easy to forget that this game is from Xbox Live Arcade and costs just over a tenner. In terms of value for money, youâll be hard pushed to find a bigger, better and prettier game in this price range.
Over all, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is brilliant fun, gorgeous to look at, challenging and a rip roarer of a platformer. This is a classic genre and is still very much alive, thanks to little gems like this.