If there’s one thing that is a constant throughout human history it’s this; younger siblings are designed to bug and pester their older siblings. From taking the older siblings stuff and breaking their things to asking annoying questions, like all the time. I know firsthand because that’s what I did to my older sister for years. How she didn’t kill me while we were growing up I will never know.
The game is actually not a new one, it came out in 2013, developed by Press Play, and uses the Unity Engine. It was previously released on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, PC, and recently just released on the Nintendo Switch. The game itself is actually a sequel to another title called Max And The Magic Marker that was released in 2010. I’ve played both Xbox One and Nintendo Switch versions but I will be covering The Switch version today. Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood takes the tropes between the younger and older brother and kind of turns it on its head, If you’re looking for a game with an interesting dynamic in storyline and gameplay, grab a hot beverage (or cold, your preference) and get comfortable.
Let’s go back again to think about when we were growing up. Those who have siblings might appreciate this a tad bit more. Remember how when your brother/sister would just get on your nerves by just breathing? Better yet, remember how you kept praying and hoping that they would just disappear out of existence so you can finally get some peace and quiet? Man, were we sick or what?! Either way, this is how the beginning of the game goes. Max comes home one day to find his little brother Felix in his room playing with his toys. Max noticeably irked about this, searches for a way to have his little brother disappear. He finds a spell and starts to read it out loud, unbeknownst to him the spell was working. He then sees a giant arm come out of a portal, nab his brother and takes Max’s little brother to another world. Max jumps into the portal to go after the thing that grabbed his brother and so our heroes journey begins!
The set up is great, there isn’t much in dialog or a long-drawn-out cutscene that sets everything up. The storytelling is done with quick visuals, Max has a brother, brother is annoying, Max wants him gone, Max gets his wish and quickly regrets it and goes after brother. Very straightforward storytelling and it puts the player right into the game within a span of about 5 minutes or fewer. Although games are becoming more and more cinematic these days it’s a breath of fresh air that a game would have the best of both worlds, a quick set up, and get’s the player right into the mix.
Immediately from starting the game you will notice the game is a side-scrolling platformer. Max gives chase to his brother’s kidnapper while jumping from ledge to ledge and trying to keep up. After a scuffle with this giant behemoth, Max sees he is outmatched and has to run for his life to figure another way to save his brother. In his journey, he comes across a tree that is the home of an elderly woman who tells Max in order to save his brother he will also have to stop a villain by the name of Mustacho from taking over the world. Ok, the name is campy and a bit childish but our hero is also like 12 so it’s harmless, I’ll give it a pass. I don’t want to spoil anything here with the rest of the story, the remaining levels of the game, of course, focus on Max going through platform levels and puzzles to stop Mustacho and save his brother Felix. I really do love the simplicity of the story and how it hearkens back to a simpler time in life. It answers the question of what a sibling would do if they got exactly what they wished for and their other sibling was taken away to another place.
With every good game comes specific mechanics that make it stand out from the crowd of 1,000’s of other games. This game is no different. Your main weapon of choice isn’t an AK-47 or a giant hammer, no no. Your weapon is a MARKER! Not impressed? You should be. The marker is imbued with magical abilities to help Max get through some pretty sticky situations. At first, the marker has a limited ability to help out with growing branches and moving a rock to help create other platforms for Max to get to and solve puzzles. As you progress you’ll get upgrades to the marker based on other elements; you can control water to carry you to other locations, throw fireballs around to help take care of enemies and you will be able to draw vines to help you swing from one place to another like Tarzan! In order to gain the upgrades you will need to complete certain challenges to get the upgrade and then you’ll need to figure out how to use this new ability to find a way out. The beauty again is in the simplicity of it all, you are challenged to use all the tools at your disposal at any given time. If you need to get to a ledge but the vine is too short to reach you, attach it to a branch, cut the rope from its original anchor point, and voila! you can now climb the rope to get to where you need to go. It makes you think a little bit ahead of what you are planning on doing but it is also pretty forgiving with the deaths. You, of course, have a certain checkpoint in each area so if you die you just respawn from there and try another technique to progress onward.
The enemy AI is not inherently difficult but tough enough to make crossing certain areas a little difficult. If you die at the hands of one of these guys you know it wasn’t the game being unfair but because your execution of an idea wasn’t the best. There are certain areas where you will have to try multiple times to complete, for me it was getting chased by the giant claw monster that kidnapped Felix and a couple of quick events where I was sliding down a hill and needed to cross platforms at top speed. It became frustrating at times but it didn’t feel hopeless to finish and move forward so I kept at it until I beat that certain part and felt pretty gratified to boot.
Art Style And Music
With the game being created using the Unity engine you would expect the visuals to be really good, and for the most part, you are right! For the most part. In the Switch version, the rendering of the character sprites and scenery are done well but there are considerable frame rate issues. I am usually not one to be really picky about this so if I am upset with this then you might go out of your mind. Either in docked mode or handheld mode I noticed a decent amount of drops throughout my playthrough. Not to say this is the games fault because it’s not. The Xbox one version I played ran beautifully the whole time I played and I had no issues. The appeal of the Switch version much with everything else on it is the idea that you can bring a big game like Max on the go. Visuals are great and without a doubt colorful, they are very atmospheric when going between different locations. When you’re traveling through the caves, the colors are dark and foreboding with little patches of green and blue to help keep it from being mundane. When you’re outside running through the more floral areas you have a lot more vibrant greens for the grass and trees and reds for the killer thorn bushes that will kill you without hesitation…yea those are a thing. The art style is impressive and it shouldn’t be judged on the Switch version alone, I would say pick up the Xbox, PlayStation or PC version to see how they are supposed to look throughout the whole game.
One of my favorite things about the game as with a lot of other games is the music. The music does its job incredibly well and sets up the rest of the atmosphere alongside the visuals and art style. Some might get upset because the music isn’t always playing but that’s really a good thing when you think about it. You want to get the sense of wonder and feeling of an area, so the music will dial back and let you hear the background noises. The best example of this is in the cave parts, the music will stop and you can hear creatures in the background rustling around and making eerie sounds. To up the creepy factor, you can see their yellow eyes in the background. The music has a cartoon feel to it at some points to more or less lighten the mood and at other points, it has a nice orchestra enhancing the Heroism the player is supposed to be feeling on their journey.
I really had a great time playing Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood and would recommend everyone who loves indie platform/puzzle games to pick it up and play. The gameplay is fun and the controls are pretty tight except for a couple of areas in the game. The music sets the pace nicely for the player and the graphics really pop out. Except for when they don’t. Which is too bad because that is one of the games best qualities on the other platforms. I still say, however, pick it up for the Switch if you haven’t downloaded it on anything else. The adventure alone is well worth it.
All4Gamerz gives Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood for the Switch an 8/10.
Thank you for checking out this review on Max everyone, I hope you all enjoyed reading about it. Let me know what you thought in the comments below, have you played the game before, have you played the first game? I want to know and hear your thoughts. Until next week everyone, take care.