Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
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Game Reviewed: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Press Play
Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
ESRB Rating: E10
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Sequel (or spiritual successor of sorts) to the mobile game Max and the Magic Marker, The Curse of Brotherhood is a side-scrolling platformer aspiring to be one of the closest things I’ve seen to a children’s fable in video games. Coupled with unique puzzle mechanics and an impressive cinematic visual style, it’s certainly an interesting game (not to mention one of very, very few interesting games on the Xbox One at the moment).
Max is a young boy with an annoying brother. Any of us raised with younger siblings can easily relate, I’m sure. Given the opportunity, Max wishes his brother would just go away. But in classic “careful what you wish for” fashion, it actually happens, and Max immediately regrets his wish. He follows his brother into a fantastical world and remains one step behind him, hoping he can save him before something horrible happens.
A game this colorful and imaginative certainly looks kid-friendly. But is it???
Yes. Yes it is. But here’s the info anyway.
What Parents Need to Know
There is cartoony violence on a level only slightly above games like Mario. Max can die in a few ways, none of which are graphic or show a drop of blood. These include being smashed by a giant troll, falling into a bottomless pit, and falling into pools of lava, among others.
Max uses some swear words that you might hear around the school yard from a kid his age. These are mostly limited to minor words like “butt” and “crap” but you will also hear him say the word "bad ass". Use your discretion as a parent to what is appropriate for your family.
Nothing to speak of.
There is magic in this world, including Max’s marker, given magic power by a strange witch-like woman. This power is, like in so many fairy tales, vague and undefined, putting on the level of Disney magic. If your kid can watch Frozen, they can deal with the magic in this game.
Max doesn’t behave well toward his brother at the beginning, but of course it’s to set up his character arc so he can learn how important that relationship is. It would be silly to take issue with it.
I was pleasantly surprised by Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. I expected a fun little platformer, but the level design made for some of the best platforming challenges I’ve played since the Prince of Persia games a decade ago. The gameplay deserves to stand with the likes of VVVVVV and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time as one of the great platformers. The story is simple, but works really well, and the general aesthetic (from the music to the visuals to the creature designs) communicates a really bright, colorful, enchanting world that I enjoyed spending time in. It doesn’t do much to elevate itself to a truly great game, but it does what it does really well, and I enjoyed it immensely.
What’s more, it has very little objectionable content, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one for children. It’s up to you whether your specific child can handle some of the minor issues that come up.
If you have an Xbox One, you really might as well; there’s not much else for you to play anyway. And otherwise, this game is still worth checking out.