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Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

December 16, 2014

Brothers A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is one of the best games ever made.

Why? What is so special about this game?

– Absence of UI
– Absence of text and minimal verbal communication
– Unique controls
– Amazing atmospheric music
– Careful, well-calculated camera placement
– Interactive environments
– Poignant story that takes full advantage of the control scheme
– The plot is predictable, but the exceptional execution may leave you depressed for a few days

This game is somewhat similar in spirit to Journey or Ico, but differs from both. It feels like an interactive move. Indeed, a film director Josef Fares was involved in game development.

Music by Gustaf Grefberg is particularly fitting and plays a big part in setting the atmosphere. Here is one of my favorite tracks. During that scene, I had to put down the controller and just stared at the screen, mesmerized by perfect combination of visual serenity of the water and the music.

Moreover, the main theme deserves further elaboration.

Kulning or herding calls (called kauking and kaukning in some parts of Norway, in the province of Dalarna in Sweden and the former Norwegian provinces in Sweden Jämtland and Härjedalen, also kulokker, kyrlokker or a lockrop) is a domestic Scandinavian music form, often used to call livestock (cows, goats, etc.) down from high mountain pastures where they have been grazing during the day.

There is some speculation that it was one of the first ways to tame animals in herds (see domestication) in the Scandinavian and Ural regions, with prehistoric origins. The knowledge about it today originates, however, from regions near mid-Fennoscandia.

The song has a high-pitched vocal technique, i.e. a loud call using head tones, so that it can be heard or be used to communicate over long distances. It has a fascinating and haunting tone, often conveying a feeling of sadness, in large part because the lokks often include typical half-tones and quarter-tones (also known as “blue tones”) found in the music of the region.

When a call is made in a valley, it rings and echoes against the mountains. The animals, a number of whom wear bells tuned so that the livestock’s location can be heard, begin to respond to the call, answering back and the sound of the bells indicates that they are moving down the mountain towards their home farm.

In comparison with other regional song traditions, e.g. joik, there is no evidence that this genre has been used in religious rituals or for other purposes. It has been used on farms in stock-raising since the medieval times. The tradition continues today.

Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg based a few of his classical music compositions for piano and for orchestra on kulokker that he had heard. An early Norwegian opera includes a soprano aria that is half aria and half kulning.

Behind the scenes look at the development. “Making six films was a walk in the park compared to this!”

The game is available on multiple platforms and is likely to be heavily discounted during the upcoming Steam sales. Also, the Steam page can serve as an additional source of reviews if you are not convinced already. http://store.steampowered.com/app/225080/

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