Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

I’ll be honest, when I volunteered to review Max, it was more down to wanting something new to play on my Xbox One than anything, due to the traditional lack of games that accompanies all new console launches. So what did I end up with?

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a two and a half D platform game that straddles the line between puzzle game and regular platformer. You take the part of Max, a kid who, in a moment of anger, curses his younger brother with a spell he found on the internet. A portal pops up, a hand comes through, and Felix is whisked away to another world. Max instantly changes his mind, leaps through the portal, and sets off to find and save his brother.

Once there, Max meets an old lady. She dies, and puts her spirit into the only thing Max has on him, which is an old magic marker. From then on, Max has the ability to use the pen to draw pillars of earth up from certain marked spots on the ground. Also, the old lady’s voice keeps popping up like Obi Wan Kenobi to help you out as you go – “Use the pen, Max!”. As you progress through the game, the pen unlocks different abilities, giving you the ability to draw plumes of water, create hanging vines that swing naturally, and grow tree branches. You even unlock fireballs towards the end.

Like all good puzzle games, the best puzzles in Max: TCoB come from combining all of these different abilities in clever ways, and Max pitches the difficulty near perfectly. At one point I was completely convinced that the game was glitched, as it was surely physically impossible to get across a screen. Five minutes later, and I had solved the puzzle. It gives you a great feeling, and I managed to finish the entire game without ever feeling any of the puzzles were cheap, or having to resort to a walkthrough. As a sign of how well pitched the game was, in the six hours it took me to complete, I died 284 times, and never once got frustrated with it. It doesn’t do that irritating thing of spoiling a puzzle for you with a massive “hint” before you’ve even had time to give it a proper shake out, too, so credit to the developers for that.

The world Max struggles his way across is beautifully realised, managing to look both cartoony and very pretty at the same time. It’s fair to say the screenshots below really don’t do this game justice, as it looks genuinely lovely in motion. There are plenty of nice little effects, like using the pen as a torch in the darkened cave levels, casting light and shadows across the level as it goes, or the smokey puffs of bad guys exploding. The sound is also well done, with the background music and the atmospheric sound really coming together to give the game a great overall atmosphere. It definitely helps that the entire game is HUD free, which greatly adds to the immersion.







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