Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (PC) Review

By Ofisil 29.12.2014

Review for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on PC

Max & the Magic Marker was actually the first adventure of this little gem's titular hero. It was a charming puzzle platformer that received mixed, but generally positive reactions. Press Play, now undoubtedly aided by a better budget from Microsoft Studios, tried something larger in scale and with a more cinematic approach. The result is a wonderful blend of clever puzzle-solving and platforming action, all wrapped up in magnificent Pixar-esque graphics. Unfortunately, although reminiscent of similarly entertaining and challenging titles like Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, it never made it big, so Cubed3 accepts the mission of understanding why.

Max's brother is annoying. It's unknown why, but they are brothers, so there doesn't have to be a reason. In order to let off some steam, the red-haired protagonist opens up his laptop and searches for a bro-vanishing spell. Little does he know that it will actually work, open up an inter-dimensional portal, and let a giant hairy hand come through to do the deed. Moments later, Max enters this gate, only to find out that a whole world is waiting on the other side.

Audio-visually, the intro serves as a taste of things to come, making gamers feel as if they are about to watch an animated film on the big screen. Besides this initial scene, though, don't expect a deep plot or anything. This is basically Super Mario Bros., where instead of a princess and a giant lizard, there is a helpless kiddo and Mustacho, an evil old man… with a moustache. From there on it is pure gameplay, which, fortunately, is nothing short of great.

Screenshot for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on PC

The adventure starts with Max trying to chase his brother's captor, a beast named… Beast. Things turn upside-down and he soon becomes this monster's new target, leading to the first, amongst the many, well-made and adrenaline-pumping pursuits available. This part will give the impression that this is a typical platformer, yet while there is a lot of great platforming involved, that's only a minor part of the fun, because the player will soon get to try a very helpful - and magical - marker.

Enhanced by a mysterious old lady, Max's simple marker will transform into a tool of many uses. At first it will give him only one power, the ability to create a pillar of rock from the ground. Later on it will enable the creation of branches, vines, streams of water, and even fireballs and, luckily, drawing on the screen with this marker feels very natural, as are the rest of the controls.

Screenshot for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on PC

Thankfully, there is no silly hand-holding, leaving everything to skill and imagination. The learning curve is excellent, with each step a bit harder than the previous one, letting player's learn by doing. The puzzles are initially self-explanatory; attach a vine to a branch to pass over a gap, or destroy a pillar where an enemy is standing on to kill him. Soon enough, though, things will get quite demanding, requiring a lot of thinking out of the box.

This journey won't be an easy one, yet despite the abundance of what-the-hell-must-I-do moments, the solution is usually right "there" and only requires a better use of good ol' grey matter and of those things called eyes. In most situations puzzles seamlessly blend with platforming, one example being those moments where Max must make quick decisions, while being chased or as he is falling down and time has been frozen for a couple of seconds. Generally, the difficulty is perfect and leaves a wonderful sense of achievement.

Screenshot for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on PC

A thing that's missing here is the chance to explore. Never will a puzzle require backtracking or searching for other paths since it's always "one screen, one problem." Add to that the fact that the marker only works in specific - and never hidden - spots and the result is an exciting, yet totally linear experience. Even the few secret items that each level has don't really require much searching around, but at least trying to find a way to get them can be tons of fun.

Unfortunately - and even with the addition of searching for secrets - this turns out to be nothing more than a fantastic, yet short one-timer. A secondary - but not minor - reason is its lack of character. The developer didn't take any risks in designing the game, leaving behind likeable but forgettable characters and excellent but uninspired scenery. In conclusion, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood has everything it takes to be entertaining, but it lacks some important ingredients that could place it amongst the classics of the genre.

Screenshot for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

On the surface everything in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is just fine. It's as if a beautiful 3D animated film has turned into an innovative, thinking man's 2.5D platformer, with a great balance between well-implemented challenge and pure enjoyment. After a play-through, though, some of its flaws begin to surface. The stock locales and placeholder plot deprive this title from much of its character, but the worst thing is its awfully linear nature and insanely low replay value. In one sentence then, what is Max: The Curse of Brotherhood? It's a wonderful experience, which doesn't have what it takes to make people want to relive it more than once, unfortunately.

Developer

Press Play

Publisher

Microsoft Game Studios

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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