UPDATED – ‘Let’s try that again’. Those are the words that I frequently uttered throughout my playthrough of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. This 2.5D side-scrolling puzzle based platformer really returns to its original platformer roots.
It has you swinging, jumping and running your way through your adventure.
This game however does add a fresh new twist to this classic genre with a fun and innovative drawing mechanic.
The story is light-hearted and at times amusing but you shouldn’t expect anything deep or meaningful. You play as a young child called Max. After getting annoyed at his younger brother Felix, Max accidentally opens up a portal to another world. From this a hand reaches out and takes his younger brother. Trying to undo his mistake, Max jumps into the portal and sets out on an adventure to rescue Felix.
After the story progresses a bit you will unlock a magic marker that is a bit more magic than the traditional kind. With this marker you can manipulate the environment to solve puzzles and progress on your journey. Unfortunately, this drawing mechanic felt more suited to maybe a tablet or a mouse rather than a joystick. Often I had to delete what I just drew and give it another go due to imprecision of the controls. Despite this, I found this game mechanic to be both enjoyable and fun.
The difficulty of the environmental puzzles varies greatly. In most situations it doesn’t take too long to figure out what you are required to do. There are some, however, that require a fair bit of experimenting and sideways thinking to solve.
Figuring out what needs to be done to solve the puzzles however is only half the problem, executing it is often the more difficult part. The margin for error isn’t that great and I often found myself doing things more than once due to a mistimed jump or a branch drawn slightly wrong.
I also had this problem outside of puzzles during one of the many escaping giant monster, running across falling environment, or falling through the air sequences. Things often happen very quickly during these parts and there is next to no room for error. Here I frequently found myself dying and getting somewhat frustrated that even the slightest error or miscalculation will cause you to restart to the last checkpoint.
The checkpoint system however is, for the most part, very generous. After dying I usually found myself right back at the start of the same puzzle or at worst about a screen away. Also it takes you there without any loading which means dying generally isn’t too much of a pain.
The powers for the magic marker are unlocked as you progress and are generally a lot of fun to use, especially in combination. The exception to this is the first power you unlock which grants the ability to raise the ground in some areas. This was easily the most boring power to use and it definitely leaves a bad first impression on the game. If you can make it past that, the subsequent powers do mix things up a bit and require a bit more creativity to use. It isn’t until about a third of the way through the game that things start becoming fun.
The art style has its own distinctive cartoonish charm to it which I found to be refreshing. The setting for each level varies considerably which further adds to the visual appeal of the game. The voice acting is decent and the music has its own unique character to it.
On the exterior Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a light hearted, family friendly game. Inside however you will find a decently sized challenging puzzle game that will test your wits and skills. If you love traditional platformers and puzzle games and don’t mind getting frustrated by redoing things few times then you should definitely give this one a try.
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Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood has just debuted on Steam.
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