Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (PlayStation 4) Review

By Thom Compton 11.12.2017 3

Review for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on PlayStation 4

Unity 3D is awesome. For those who don't know, Unity 3D is a game engine embraced by the indie community for its low entry price of free and its surprising under-the-hood power. Many of today's "classics" have been made in Unity, like Firewatch and Kerbal Space Program. Much like many indie tools and outlets, however, there's also been quite the plethora of not so great games. This leads into, as one of the saddest segues ever, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Recently ported to PS4, Max's adventure to save his brother Felix is a lot of great ideas that, not missing a beat, fall flat on their faces.

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood begins with Max coming home to find his little brother Felix playing in his room. Max is almost instantly annoying, though not unlikable, like some awkward crossover between 90s Saturday morning cartoon Recess and Bart Simpson. Where he fails is that he doesn't really have a sense of humour, so while he deeply cares about saving his brother from a rather horrible predicament, he doesn't feel like a fully fleshed out person. Instead, he just feels like all the worst traits of a young boy jammed into one character.

To the game's credit, level design and art are where it excels. Beautiful artwork is literally everywhere, even if it all fails to feel particular imaginative. Desert towns, a deep and haunting jungle, and terrible lava pits are aplenty. While they don't feel unique, they are amazingly impressive in their detail and structure. This lends itself well to the level design, which is almost master level. Figuring out how to progress is the central focus of any puzzle platformer, and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood has some really smart puzzles throughout. The levels themselves, though, flow nicely, and don't feel like traversing rooms so much as they feel like naturally occurring places. Every inch of most levels is both organic and almost anti-platformer, as though every landscape eroded as time went on, naturally developing the steps you have to traverse.

For all that care and calculation, it's remarkable how bad the game is everywhere else. First is the platforming. Max has a nasty tendency to give into real world physics, and this is all fine… Except jumps often don't make sense until you've failed at them so many times that any sense of accomplishment dissipates. Instead, it's just nice to move on. Most of the worst puzzles involve the use of vines. While some puzzles are smart, as previously mentioned, most are either poorly telegraphed or downright bad, requiring the player to retry segments over and over again to figure out how to proceed. Couple this with a very inconsistent checkpoint system, and that's all too often a steep order.

Screenshot for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on PlayStation 4

The Curse of Brotherhood's worst sections involve being chased, though, thanks to a ridiculous lack of checkpoints (especially the first chase sequence) and timing requirements that are extremely unfair. The chases require pitch perfect execution and use of the marker, and they are beyond frustrating the tenth time you fail to raise a platform to the exact height the game wants, or you fail to pull the vine from the tree into Max's hands before the slow-mo wears off and he careens into rocks and water. The beast chasing you is insufferably fast, despite being so big, and the windows where you need to draw are so short that they rarely seem realistic, let alone fair.

The marker is the game's central gimmick, but don't get ahead of yourself. This isn't Okami; the marker has limits. For the most part, it just wills things into existence. Draw a vine from a spot and have it swing over to Max. Set a branch on fire and raise it off the ground with a pillar of your creation. While these moments are interesting, it's hard to not feel like they are prescribed, lacking any spontaneity. The puzzles are usually pretty great, but everything is so strict that, despite the creativity possible with Max's felt tip weapon, it really doesn't feel like it had to be a marker. It could have been a wand, or a glove, or a fairy named Felt. The marker just feels wasted because of it. Really, all of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood feels wasted. So many interesting ideas, many of which fail to come to pass.

The last major fault is from a technical side. Now, glitches aren't rampant, but they happen enough to need to be mentioned. Max has a tendency to glitch through branches, though rarely to his death. Sometimes when pushing a branch, he will just let go of it, then grab it again, then let go again, and so on until you release the Square button. The weirdest glitch came when loading up the game for the first time one day. It was weird because the puzzle the game loaded to loaded half completed, despite not doing anything on it the night before hand. Checkpoint restart fixed it, but it was just odd. Technical failures really don't plague Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, but they're an annoyance you need to be mindful of.

Screenshot for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood has great level design that squanders its puzzles, beautiful artwork that wastes its characters, and gameplay that ranges from boring to being a bit broken. Truth be told, though, it does manage to pull you back in just as you were getting ready to leave. Sadly, it's unlikely anyone will have the patience to see it all the way through, as so much of the game is spent fighting the bad puzzle design and the atrocious platforming.

Developer

Flashbulb Games

Publisher

Flashbulb Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

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   

Comments

I enjoyed this quite a lot - maybe this port doesn't do it justice?
My only gripe was its insanely low replay value. Simply put: I will never play this again...

A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis

I think it's definitely a port issue. I think, in hindsight, the collision detection was just way off.

Right it's not particularly deep in terms of replay, unless you care about trophies and the like. Idk, I just kept having moments of wow followed by moments of deflated grandeur.

I loved the WiiWare original... Smilie

( Edited 11.12.2017 21:43 by Adam Riley )

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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