Growing up with early classics such as Super Mario Bros and Prince of Persia, I’ve always had a soft spot for a good ol’ platformer. There is just something satisfying about tackling clever and challenging puzzles with fairly simple gameplay mechanics.It’s familiar. Comfortable. A return to basics. That’s what drew me to Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. And I wasn’t disappointed.
In this 2.5D platformer you take on the role of Max in a dreamlike adventure trying trying to rescue your little brother. Yup. That’s it. That’s the story. And it doesn’t really get much deeper than that. Which, in this case, is okay. It’s not bad but ultimately, it acts as a thin excuse to journey into the various worlds you have to cross. Instead of a princess, you’re trying to find your little bro.
It’s a really pretty game. The environments are great and there were no technical issues that I noticed. Max’s model is decent, great looking for the genre. The lighting effects are pretty cool when you are moving through areas that have shaded and sunny spots. The ambient sounds and sound effects fit the game and the world well and the music does a nice job of setting the appropriate tone of the story throughout. And it only gets better as you get further along in the game.
The gameplay is something that also gets better as you get deeper into the game…
The main mechanic is a drawing pencil that you can shape parts of the environment in order to help avoid enemies, solve puzzles, and continue through the level. It’s kind of gimmicky, but it’s pretty fun as far as unique tools go. It’s fairly forgiving, so you don’t have to be an artist, or be able to draw very accurately, very quickly. The game also does a good job showing how to use your various abilities, and how to combine them when required. Each chapter opens up a new twist on the tool, and each one is a little more fun than the last (I won’t mention them directly to avoid spoilers). They can be combined in creative and interesting ways that allow for a certain amount of freedom in how you traverse the levels.
The boss fights entail racing through the world while you’re being chased by a large monster. It does a nice job of creating tension, but can sometimes get frustrating if you’re not quite accurate enough with the drawing. Mostly they are fair and a fun challenge.
Verdict: 7.5 (Worthwhile)
Overall it’s a good looking platformer that makes good use of an interestingly unique tool. While the story is nothing to write home about it doesn’t negatively impact the game itself. The environments are varied and beautiful and the sound fits both the tone and genre of the game. I grabbed this for free awhile back as part of Games with Gold and it was definitely worth my time.