The curse of frequent unfair difficulty spikes
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (M:TCoB) was developed by the award-winning team at Press Play. They are perhaps best known for the Max & the Magic Marker series, M:TCoB is a sequel which adds new gameplay aspects, on the all-new Xbox One console.. M:TCoB starts out with Max coming home, only to find his annoying brother Felix destroying his toys. In typical Labyrinth fashion, Max quickly finds a spell from the internet to rid himself of this problem. As in the Labyrinth, he quickly realizes what a bad idea that is as a rift opens in his room, from which a huge hand appears, only to snatch away his brother. Without hesitation Max leaps in after the beast, in pursuit of his brother.
Soon you find a magical oasis in the middle of the desert. Vines appear for you to climb, the earth itself rises up to carry you to new heights, branches grow for you to climb and run on, and water carries you along created currents to meet an old protector of this strange new world. She infuses your magic marker with her soul and powers to aid you in saving your brother from the game’s villain, Mustacho.
You soon find yourself on a journey to Mustacho’s fortress where he is holding Felix. This is where we found our first problem of the game. The game does nothing to try to endear the player to Felix. Nothing differentiates him from your typical damsel in distress, which can be found in any number of other games.. At this point in the game it looks like an average child-centric platformer. Upon encountering one of Mustacho’s minions, tiny Max’s head is dashed with its club, we were shocked to discover just how violent the game can be at times. Be fair-warned, parents.. Max falls, drowns, is eaten alive, spiked, burns in lava, dragged down below by evil vines, smashed, and beaten to death. Not exactly as child-friendly as we at first thought.
The Curse of Brotherhood feels and acts like a children’s version of Out of This World – also known as Another World. The puzzles are just as infuriating, and, many times, we ended up tossing our controllers to the floor in a huff. Sometimes the Xbox One controller simply wasn’t as precise as we required, to prevent Max being savagely beaten by club-wielding minions. This brings us to our next issue with the game. The difficulty of the puzzles varies wildly. Many require applying common sense logic, while others will have you gnashing your teeth and ripping out your hair, as you are forced to restart repeatedly.
In a welcome turn of events, M:TCoB doesn’t shoehorn Kinect into the game, something many other launch title developers should take note of. On the other hand, however, there are moments in the game that are ripe for Kinect compatibility. These missed opportunities made us wonder why Max wasn’t simply a 360 game instead?.Whilst graphically pleasant, the game pushes no boundaries, and would work on the 360 – at least in theory.
At $14.99 on the Xbox Live Marketplace, we feel that Max:The Curse of Brotherhood is a little overpriced. Kids will undoubtedly have great fun with the game, but it may be a little scary, and at times, too difficult for them. Similarly, adults will tire of the difficulty spikes that frequent the game. If the price of entry was set a little lower, we would happily recommend Max, especially to gamers who enjoy a challenge. As things stand though, we are more than content to leave poor little Felix in the hands of Mustacho.