Don't you just hate it when your brother plays with your stuff and you banish him to another dimension, and then he expects you to rescue him? Blimey O'Riley!
Name: Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood
Release Date: Out Now
Age Rating: 12+ (Europe), Everyone (North America)
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One
In Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood, the objective is simple: rescue your brother Felix (Who you sent a different world because he played with your stuff) from the aptly-named Lord Mustacho. The means to get to Mustacho, however, are complex, innovative and beautiful. Sure, there's some platforming to be done in the game, but by using Earth, Wood, Vine, Water and Fire powers, you can solve puzzles, kill enemies and mostly kill yourself. Not that you're supposed to, of course.
The platforming isn't special at all, since you all you do is run and jump. But, then again, that's all you really need to do when you have a huge magical marker. Speaking of the Magic Marker, it's one of the most innovative game mechanics I've ever seen. There are certain interaction points where you can perform elemental actions. At Earth points you can raise a pillar of rock to help you get to high places, at Wood points you can create branches which you can use to cross gaps, at Vine points you can create vines to swing from, at Water points you can create streams of water that can fling you to different places, and at Fire points you can shoot fireballs. All of the effects look beautiful, but the thing that's so great about the elements is that they all connect.
For instance, vines can connect to branches, so that means you can make vines longer so you can cross longer gaps. Every single element can interact with another, and this is where Max: TCoB really shines. Using this mechanic means that the game can have more complex, hard and better puzzles, and it's safe to say that the Magic Marker mechanic is one of the most imaginative and best I've ever seen in a game.
Difficulty-wise, the game is excellent. On the surface, I thought that Max would be another throwaway platformer, but some puzzles (Especially in the later levels) perplexed me and took a good 10 minutes to solve. One memorable and hard puzzle was when I was greeted with a bomb-throwing troll that was inaccessible by platforming, two water points and a vine point. After brainstorming for a long time, the answer clicked: I would use the first water point to grab onto the vine. This meant that the troll would throw the bombs higher and therefore nearer to the other water point. I then used that point to deflect the bomb back onto the troll, killing it. Overall, the difficulty is perfect.
Sadly, at some points, the game is frustrating. The are many times in the game where you are chased by a huge monster, and if you die, an unskippable, long cutscenes plays before you can restart the chase again. I felt that this disconnected me from the game at times and was overall very boring.
The length of the game is about 10 hours, plus a couple more if you want to collect all of the Amulet pieces and destroy all of Lord Mustacho's surveillance eyes. The difficulty also helps keep the game long. Still, the game is actually quite fast paced, with many chase sections and time limits that keep you on your toes. The length, the difficulty and the excellent gameplay mechanics all add up to a meaty slice of gameplay cottage pie served with a side of peas and a choice of new potatoes or radishes.
For an Xbox 360 game, the graphics are well done. The water effects stun me the most, with crisp, crystal clear effects. The backgrounds of the worlds look great, and the main characters look fine, but sometimes the floor can look grainy and badly textured, and the huge monster called the Beast doesn't look very good either.
The voice acting is nothing really special, with Max being the confident one, Felix being the "HELP HELP HELP" one, the Old Lady being the helpful, gameplay tip-conveying one, and Lord Mustacho being the unspectacular, bad one. Still, the score is very nice, with chase scenes having a tense, suspenseful effect, but the music at the start of the game is the best, as it has soothing, calming beats that help you explore the new crazy world you just got yourself into. The animation is mostly fluid and perfect, but the final boss fight had a few stutters and glitches for me. Still, a it's a very well presented game, more or less.
Overall, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a memorable and innovative game. The mechanics are thought up very well and make the game and puzzles much better than any other, and the difficulty is hard, but rewarding. There are some great high octane sections to play out, but long winded, unskippable cutscenes ruin the tempo of them quite a bit. Still, the game is presented very well, and some of the effects are gorgeous. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is so innovative and out there that the only game I could possibly compare it to is the original, Max and the Magic Marker. In conclusion, The Curse of Brotherhood makes owning a Sharpie a fun, imaginative experience.