Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons

It was definitely one of my favorites of last year. Seems like there’s always at least one great downloadable game each year that resonates with me. In years past, that was Limbo, Braid, maybe others.

Finally got around to playing Brothers, and remembered to review this thread. (Man, there sure is a lot of FTL discussion in this thread.)

I found that I didn’t care at all about the brothers. I especially didn’t care about the hippogriff, which I’d just met a minute prior. The flyer was unpleasant and fiddly to operate. I think I died (crashed into a wall) four or five times trying to get it to the other side of the valley.

To make matters worse, there was a bug in the game where it was impossible to swing up to the highest knob of the castle/keep/tower at certain PC screen resolutions, so it took me twenty minutes to get past that part, which included watching a YouTube video of somebody doing it, then scrolling down and reading the plaintive comments.

But I think worst of all was the “you can never trust a woman” theme of the game. I won’t use a spoiler tag to say that all of the women characters in this game are unreliable; the moral of the game is that the brothers can only rely on each other, not women. And there’s even an early game achievement, “Wishing Well,” for being pointlessly cruel to a little girl in the village. The designers have issues. :frowning:

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That is not the point. They can trust the men in this story.

[spoiler]They can trust the man giant. They can trust the inventor. They can trust the hippogriff.

Obviously the seductress can’t be trusted. But what happens when you rescue a woman giant? She doesn’t stick around to help. You have to deal with the boss all by yourself. Women, amirite? :frowning:

LB can’t even rely on his dead mother to get him through the end of the game. When it comes time to swim across the river, to pull the switch, to reach the ladder, his mother appears, but disappears when he needs her. Instead, you have to hold down the left trigger to ask dead BB for help.

What LB has learned is that he no longer needs his mother, because he’ll always carry BB in his heart. That’s why he doesn’t need to cry at the end of the game.

Dead moms are useless. But dead brothers can help you do anything.[/spoiler]

The point about pointless cruelty to the little girl is that there aren’t opportunities to be pointlessly cruel to other boys/men in this story; as you wrote, the point of this game is that the brothers are heroes who just go around “doing good deeds because.”

You certainly don’t earn any achievements for being pointlessly cruel to anyone else in this game. Just a little girl. Just because. IMO, this achievement is where the designers really tipped their hand; they aren’t just participating in a traditionally sexist culture. This achievement is their own invention.

Even granting that our culture has a long tradition of sexism, and that there are excellent historical stories which are steeped in a culture of male superiority, maybe a modern game could have more trustworthy women, or even an untrustworthy man? And maybe let you be pointlessly cruel to both boys and girls, or neither, but not just a little girl?

Maybe mom could have helped a bit at the end of the game?

We can do better.

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I was following your discussion and I want to say I agree here that too much shouldn’t be read into every work. I also agree with dfabulich that, if youre going to represent a gender/race/whatever, then do it right. (I’m guilty of doing it wrong here and there but I was writing noir wherein the “dame” is usually a “femme fatale”.)

I also warn against saying things like “the authors have issues”, not due to any insulting manner it might have, but because most authors would take exception at being psychoanalyzed by their work. I used to hate showing lyrics to my band members only to have them pick them apart as to how I came up with those lines. I’m like, shut up, some lines are just lines to fill in the rhythm. Am I making sense?

These kind of seem like the same thing, really.

Look, when you make any art you’re kind of putting part of yourself up for inspection. Art is communication: its your job to make it communicate the things that you want it to. You can’t have it both ways. If you don’t want anybody to read things into your art, you shouldn’t publish it. End of story.

And there’s a freakin’ ton of art where it’s abundantly clear that the author has issues! Some of it, you can’t even properly understand until you figure out which issues the author has. Sometimes, the issues are a gigantic elephant in the room. Death of the author, sure, but sometimes they leave an awfully smelly corpse.

I can’t disagree with you more. What about the genre of Nonsense? Should we psychoanalyze Lewis Carroll by his writings? Should we consider Stephen King a pedophile because he’s hung up on illustrating that real life horror in a lot of his works?

Honestly, maga.

Carroll? Oh, god, yeah. You read the minor works - the essay against co-education at Oxford? the poem about how much he hates the seaside, which I actually kind of like but jeez what a griper? - and he comes across as this rather fussy, shuttered, thin-skinned prat. (Stephen King I am not qualified to speak upon, because I don’t have a very high opinion of him in general. But yeah, the paedophilia thing is clearly one of his big recurring themes; saying he’s a paedophile would be pretty ridiculous overreach, saying that paedophilia, and particularly male-male paedophilia, is a major recurring concern of his, not so much).

It’s okay to like works by people who you think are assholes. One of my very favourite poets is T.S. Eliot, but if I met him in person I suspect that I’d kind of want to punch him in the face after about five minutes. William Blake’s lunatic religion and creepy preoccupation with innocence and corruption is inseparable from his actual work, but you don’t have to buy into it to appreciate it.

Stephen King doesn’t need my defense, but his forte is that he creates on average roughly 150 or so major and minor characters in each his larger works. He’s written enough characters, both male and female, along the entire spectrum of good and evil, that you really can’t ding him for having several that ruffle the same particular feathers.

Disney went for an incredibly long time neglecting to create any strong mother-figures in their movies, so you might have a case against them for oversight.

It’s tricky to second-guess what characters an author should use, without homogenizing the cast of every story into a bland vanilla sitcom which must requisitely include a spunky girlfriend.

Women often get stereotyped as the nurturing ones who help out. So perhaps the authors of B:AToTS were going against type by having all of them be unhelpful and only concerned for their own well being?

This is from the author’s twitter feed. He apologises for that (and thanks Anita Sarkeesian for her work) when the issue is brought to his attention. It’ll be interesting to see his next game.

(And if you understand Swedish, the blog post where I found the link above is also worth reading. The headline translates as “That’s why Josef Fares is a role model”)

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Yeah, I’d say war, racism, poverty, depression, sexism, violence, violence specifically against women, about about five hundred thousand other things are greater threats than Political Correctness, whatever the fuck that even means.

@Trumgottist Nifty!

@Peter You’ve gone too far in this post; you’re embarrassing yourself. :frowning:

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So many people hold views like that in earnest that I honestly wasn’t sure to what extent you were exaggerating.

Games in which the men are portrayed as back-stabbing bastards and there are multiple women, who can only trust each other? Do a few examples of those leap to mind? Would you say that there are “many” of them, that this isn’t something quite rare in games?

I challenge you to watch five episodes of Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women series and still hold the view that there isn’t a problem with gender representation in most video games. … 62esf9yP61

You might especially want to review the scene in Brothers where you

pull the legs off the were-spider

and tell me that there’s no problem with gender representation in this game, or video games in general.

(As Trumgottist points out, the author himself has conceded the point about Brothers; there’s no need to defend it from me or anyone else.)

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Exactly. Don’t shoehorn character types into games where they don’t belong. And if a work happens to not represent ALL genders or w/e, then get over it.

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Yes, there is a problem in the culture in general, and this game in particular. That does however not mean that the game is horrible. I’ll still call it a great game and happily recommend it without hesitation. (But it is a good thing that these issues are brought up - that’s needed if we’re going to get change.)

Regarding the trolls though (assuming that’s what you mean when you talk about giants - it’s been a while since I played it, but I only remember dead giants, and no live ones)…

Aside from the fact that the female is the one to be rescued (the damsel in distress is certainly here), she’s not really less helpful than her mate. During the boss fight they both stand helplessly watching the brothers deal with it. I don’t see a big difference in their attitudes towards the brothers.

I can’t remember specifics, but I’m pretty sure there were at least one other instance early in the game when the younger brother can be playing tricks without there being a particular point to it. My reading of it was simply that he was a young child, who grows up during the course of the game. (Don’t know how much to read into the existence of achievements. I didn’t pay any attention to those. I don’t know how it works on other platforms, but on PC there is no notification when one is achieved. You’ll have to look for them in the Steam client if you care about it.)

I don’t have any comment regarding your conclusion regarding the ending and the view of the mother. All I can say is that’s not at all how I saw it. I simply saw it as him growing up, and it never occurred to me that the events could be seen as reducing the value of the mother. (I’ll have to think more about that one.)