Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (Xbox One)

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Saturday, January 4, 2014

It’s been a long time since I played a side-scrolling platform game that I truly enjoyed enough to finish. The last one that I can remember truly enjoying was Shadow Complex, an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive that came out in 2009. In comes Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, a beautiful 2.5D side-scroller from developers Press Play.

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood starts off with Max coming home to find his younger brother Felix playing with and subsequently breaking his toys. He quickly pulls out a laptop and finds a spell to make his brother disappear. Out of nowhere a portal opens and Felix is snatched back into the portal. Realizing the error of his decision, Max quickly jumps into the portal behind them to rescue his little brother. Once he makes it through the portal, he finds him in a distant and unfamiliar land. After running through your first quick level, you’ll discover a beautiful utopia amongst a barren desert. After climbing a few vines, you’ll meet an old woman, a witch of sorts, who transforms her soul into your weapon – a magic marker. This magic marker allows you to manipulate the world around you to help you complete puzzles and complete each level.

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As you progress through the game, you’ll gain new earth-altering powers (roughly every two chapters), including: building vines, channeling water, raising the earth and fire. Once you get far enough along in the game that you are required to use all of the powers together to solve puzzles is when the better parts of the game truly emerge. For example, perhaps you need to a very high ledge, how do you get there? You could use your marker to raise a platform, use a waterspout to shoot you up high enough to grab a vine you’ve drawn and then swing over to it. The variety is a lot of fun.

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Unfortunately the game isn’t without its flaws, too. The marker isn’t quite as intuitive as it should be and can lead to annoying deaths because of it, especially in some of the “boss” battles. It’s also surprising to see that they didn’t find some way to incorporate Smartglass into the game. While I didn’t expect some elaborate and thought out story to the game, it felt like there was a lot more room to add to the story. I mean, without caring that much about Felix, it can occasionally be cumbersome to force yourself through one of the more thought-out puzzles if you’re getting frustrated. With the Pixar feel of the game, it’s a bit more noticeable than it might be otherwise. A smile gripe in the grand scheme of the game, but a gripe nonetheless.

Overall, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood – even with its flaws – has been my favorite Xbox One exclusives to date (it will also be coming to 360 sometime in 2014) and one of my favorite platformers ever. For the reasonable price of $14.99, you would be doing yourself a great disservice to not add Max: The Curse of Brotherhood to your gaming collection.

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The Good

+ Beautiful graphics.

+ Manipulating the world is a lot of fun; welcome addition to platformers.

+ Forgiving checkpoints.

+ Great level variety.

+ Solving more frustrating puzzles feels very rewarding.


The Bad

- Drawing mechanic seems better suited for Wii U.

- Unsatisfying story.

- Lord Mustacho isn't exactly a frightening villain.

Verdict8.5

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