Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has a story that only works as a video game. It’s one of those rare, unadaptable things that can’t survive outside its native medium, like the Catcher in the Rye or the Matrix. The ending of the game hits so hard and so precisely in a way only available through player interaction. A book or a movie cannot capture or express with remotely as much emotional impact that perfect moment the whole game builds up to.
I haven’t played the game, funny thing, but I found out indirectly how potent and inseparable that connection is.
I read reviews and they all heap praises on the ending, that they can’t talk about it, how it brought them to tears, and how I just have to experience it myself. So of course, I went straight to YouTube.
I watched a playthrough and didn’t get it. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I went back a few minutes and thought maybe I missed something earlier. Nope. I jumped to the beginning and looked for any foreshadowing that the ending might be referencing, but still nothing. Hmm, what am I missing.
Then I came across another video, this time with audio commentary from the guy playing it. I listened intently when he gets to the end of the game, and then—oh shit.
This is the thing: you do not get the whole story even if you have all the visual and audio content in front of you—you need to be there with a controller in your hands. That is as critical as what you see and hear on the screen. I can’t get over how amazing this is.