Be careful what you wish for. Just because your annoying little brother had invaded your room, messed up with your toys and broken more than a few in the process you shouldn’t wish that something bad happens to him, like, God forbid, to vanish from the face of this earth. However, that’s exactly what Max, the protagonist of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood had done when he found his kid brother in his room: he went straight away to his laptop, googled (or giggled as it’s called here) “How to make your brother disappear”, and instantly found a handy incantation that presumably does just that. Boys will be boys, right? Then a huge, shaggy, very demon-like hand appeared from a portal, snatched little Felix and obligingly got rid Max of his pesky brother. Luckily, Max’s better nature took over, so he jumped in the portal himself, embarking on one of the more interesting and certainly better-looking adventures in the recent platformer history.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a 2.5D platformer by Press Play with a pronounced puzzle game aspect, which appeared for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Switch. It is set in the gorgeously rendered and utterly outlandish world of some other dimension beyond our own. On the first look, nothing promises that this game will be anything different from scores of other platform games we had played over the years: you’ll run trying to keep up with the giant creature that seized your brother (presumably to snack on him later), overcoming series of standard trials and obstacles with just a little more agility than any real-life twelve-year kid possesses. Quite irritatingly, you won’t have any of the superhuman physical abilities in your arsenal that some other platformer heroes boasted – no floating to get you where you need, no double jumping mid-air to help you reach distant locations, no extra-super-sonic speed to grant you swiftness to elude bad guys, no…well, you get our drift. Despite all the dazzling visual style and apparent level-design artistry, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood promised to be a piteously pedestrian experience.
However, looks can be very deceiving, because the game will quickly reveal its greatest trump. As some of you might remember, Max first appeared in the game called Max & Magic Marker where he had a magic marker he used to draw things he needed to overcome challenges on his path. Well, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood will use similar drawing mechanics to its advantage. Pretty soon, Max will encounter a benevolent old man which will tell him who’s behind his brother’s abduction and what gruesome fate he has in store for him. He also asks for a weapon so that he can imbue it with his spirit. Since Max had none, he gave him the only thing he had on him – a magic marker from the previous game. Now, Max has a potent ally on his side which can compensate all his underwhelming physical abilities. You’ll use it to clear obstacles before you, conjure platforms (or destroy them), stimulate vines to grow, thus making handy bridges for you to pass, and do all sorts of other interesting things. As you can guess, your sentient magic marker (yep, the old man will talk through it, giving you various advice and info about the bizarre world you’re in) will be your main weapon in resolving different situations. Each of these obstacles is actually structured like a small individual puzzle, so you’ll, at least initially, have a blast trying to figure out all the things you can do it. And even once you’re quite acquainted with the magic marker mechanics, it somehow never grows stale, especially since in the latter stages of the game you’ll be required to combine several marker’s effects in a sequence, which requires not only considerable dexterity but also the capacity for improvisation and quick-thinking.
It’s not often that we can say that a game has any sort of message which it wants to convey to its consumers, but Max: The Curse of Brotherhood actually has a good one, and it simply oozes from its every pore and radiates from its every little detail: the strong message of sibling tolerance, patience, and love. Of course, all this is packed in interesting platformer form with a dazzling cartoonish visual style that was rightly compared with the works of Pixar Animation Studios. All that combined makes Max: The Curse of Brotherhood a real treat for anyone interested in a good platformer action, but also for those players who like to occasionally indulge in some lightweight puzzle game.