Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Reimagined: Navigating the Challenges of Remaking a Classic Game

Image source, Avantgarden

Image caption,

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was viewed as an touching and story victory when the original was released in 2013

How can you reimagine a masterpiece? It’s a query that Ivan Casaril and Fabrizio Dini have spent much time reflecting on.

Ivan is the chief game designer and Fabrizio the art director on the newly released remake of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

Originally unveiled in 2013, the adventure-puzzle game was an unnoticed hit thanks to its original control scheme and heart-rending narrative.

As the title suggests, the player handles two siblings on a journey through a fantastical land on a mission to rescue a relative.

Now Italian game studio Avantgarden has reproduced the experience for current-gen consoles and PC.

No hints here, but anyone who played the original will acknowledge with Ivan that Brothers “is something you can recall even after many years”.

He says the game’s attraction lies in its “fairytale” start – “everything is colorful, happy” – but “the more you progress through the levels, the darker the themes and the environment become, until the you reach a very touching point”, he says.

Ivan played the original – an Xbox Live Arcade title – and says it “had a profound emotional impact” on him.

Fabrizio says the 2013 version – which clinched a Bafta Games Award – is broadly remembered as a “masterpiece” where the narrative was expressed through the gameplay.

One of the most noticeable elements of the original was the use of a single joystick to maneuver the two main characters – one control stick for the elder brother, and the other for the younger boy.

Each possessed strengths and weaknesses, and it was up to players to decipher which boy to navigate through obstacles.

For the remake, the control mechanism remains intact.

The Avantgarden team has included a secondary co-op mode for two players using separate controllers, even though Ivan admits “the game is meant to be played solo”.

A larger, more conspicuous change is in the game’s visuals – they’ve been given a complete facelift, incorporating more detail and lighting to scenes and giving expression to the characters.

The team has also produced a brand-new soundtrack played by a live orchestra.

Ivan says one of the key objectives was giving the game an “up-to-date presentation” and honing the original which, he highlights, did have “some technical restrictions”.

“Eleven years later, you can fine-tune a bit on that point, you can enhance graphics, you can append environments, you can refine the lighting, improve everything in that aspect,” he says.

“And that is not merely adding things blindly, it’s also to add significance to the scene, you have to labor on the original one to perceive what the intention was,” he says.

Fabrizio says the team gave “a lot of meticulous consideration” to any augmentations and the ultimate goal was to utilize modern technology to make “the graphics and play more vivid and immersive without overshadowing the original ideas”.

Image source, Avantgarden

Image caption,

Brothers takes the two main characters on a journey through a fantastical world

The Brothers remake is the latest in a string of re-imaginings, reissues and revivals of older gaming titles.

Already this year we’ve had a redo of The Last of Us: Part II, the second part of the Final Fantasy VII Remake trilogy and a refreshed Alone in the Dark coming later this month, to name a few.

Avantgarden’s parent company, Digital Bros, recently mentioned gamers were being “more selective” about new games and choosing to adhere with “well-established” titles.

The company declared office closures this week as part of a previously reported restructure, in a challenging time for the industry as it looks to evade risks.

And when the 2024 version of Brothers was disclosed at last year’s Games Awards, amid the nostalgia and excitement, there were others who questioned whether this was a title that needed to be revisited.

Fabrizio says he comprehends this perspective, but thinks there is value in the project.

“Sometimes the conserving of a masterpiece is a good opportunity to do something new and speak to new people that never familiarized themselves with this game during its original release,” he says.

Fabrizio, who talked to Newsbeat with Ivan just before the release, admits it was “nerve-wracking” waiting to see what the response would be.

So far, the remake has had generally favorable reviews, according to Metacritic, even if a handful of critics said they would have liked to see more ambition from the project.

But for Ivan, there’s one person whose response he’s particularly keen to hear.

“I’m waiting to give the game to one friend of mine, the friend that bought me the original game,” he says.

“He just unearthed last year that I was working on this game, but he was the one that showed me Brothers for the first time. So it will be a great moment. I can’t wait to give him a copy of the game.”

Ivan says he hopes players will feel they’ve done justice to a classic.

“When you were working on something for so many years, you always try to smooth everything out and you want to reach a target… there is never enough,” he says.

“And we hope that people that will play it again or for the first time will love it.”

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *