Thursday, December 21, 2017

Review: Max - The Curse of Brotherhood [ Nintendo Switch eShop ]

While I’m an only child watching the dynamics of my two daughters and friends I can understand the complicated relationship between siblings. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood opens with the uglier side of things with Max’s younger brother inspiring him to look up a curse to make him go away. Unfortunately he’s apparently stumbled onto something a bit too real and it opens a portal from which an enormous arm emerges, pulling his brother in. Seeing his brother threatened and in trouble (and probably feeling a bit guilty) Max jumps into the portal after his brother and so the adventure begins.

Aside from this introduction the game wastes little time in getting you in tune with the periodic action puzzles that pop up periodically throughout. With many of them reminding me of way-back classics like Out of This World, when these pop up you’ll often need to go through some trial and error to work out the precise actions or timing you’ll need in order to make it through. Typically, as is the case with the opening sequence, these will involve being chased by a behemoth of a monster and you’ll need to jump, crawl, swing, and climb your way to safety. Particular attention should be paid on the rope swings as your timing in letting go will propel you more upwards or forwards with force depending on what the situation dictates. While I could see these being aggravating for less skilled gamers potentially if you’re not finding success you’ll need to try to experiment and do something along the way differently, every precious second you waste brings you closer to failure.

Once you move a little further in, the game will shift with the introduction of powers to your handy magic marker. Imbued with mystical energy from a sorceress trying to save the strange lands you find yourself in, initially you’ll be able to make columns of dirt rise from the ground in special enhanced spots. As you progress you’ll gain the ability to create and manipulate additional elements and that’s where the more methodical puzzle nature of game emerges. Whether you’re trying to give yourself a vine to cross a chasm or trying to either trap or stop the various monsters you encounter along your travels there’s always something you’ll need to figure out through combining the elements around you and the powers you have available. To make it a little more interesting there are also weird eyeball vines the evil wizard you’ll eventually face has strewn about that you’ll want to try to destroy. It isn’t absolutely necessary to get all of these your first time through but they provide some added challenge in places to make the game more engaging.

When it comes to downsides if you step back while the puzzles evolve and change as you gain new abilities and move through new areas I suppose there could be considered to be a repetition to it. Getting all of the eye vines takes a little more planning and creativity at times but for the most part the difficulty I’d consider to be middle of the road but perhaps erring more on the easy side. That said, through the game’s conclusion I found it all to be enjoyable and engaging, changing things up just enough with your steady acquisition of new powers to provide new creative solutions to the situations you find yourself in.

Overall I found that Max’s mix of play styles and moderate level of challenge made for an enjoyable romp. Puzzle-solving generally is of the kind that makes you feel pretty smart when you work out what you need to do and there generally seems to be a little room for variation on how you may approach things at times. Overall if you’re looking for a solid adventure with a blend of things to do it is easy to recommend.

Score: 8

  • A middle-of-the-road challenge overall that is satisfying
  • Generally looks fantastic
  • As your magic marker gets more powers some puzzles combine elements in wonderfully creative ways

  • To a degree there is an element of repetition in puzzle solving, with many feeling like variations on a theme
  • The overall story is mostly stock, and there’s no particular use of the brother relationship
  • In some cases there are branches with an alternative path but if you accidentally take the main path you would need to start that section over to get to it again