Many high profile developers today are placing a greater focus on graphical presentation over story or core mechanics. Thankfully, the indie scene isn't quite like that. Two Brothers, a successfully funded Kickstarter title that is nearing release, is meant to remind people of the Game Boy era of games without strictly adhering to the limitations of the system. As for the actual appearance of the game in relation to the plot, the general lack of color is a core element of what the game is about. RPGamer recently had the opportunity to chat with Ackk Studios' actual two brothers, Andrew and Brian Allanson, about this upcoming indie release.
Trent Seely (RPGamer): Greetings Andrew and Brian, and thank you for taking the time out to chat with us about Two Brothers.
Can you give a quick rundown on what type of game this is?
Andrew Allanson (Score Director and Lead Composer): Two Brothers is an action-adventure game, not unlike The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening or Sword of Mana. The game is done in a GameBoy aesthetic. You take on the role of Roy Guarder, a young inventor who begins to obsess with the idea of finding a new color on earth after a near death experience shows him an afterlife filled with color. Your brother, Bivare, who is also an inventor and explorer, soon takes on your obsession and you begin a quest.
TS: Indie development comes with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. What pushed you guys to actually create a game?
Brian Allanson (Lead Artist and Animator): It's something we couldn't really help but do.
AA: Ever since we bought our first programming book, when I would have been eight or nine, we've been obsessed with making games. We knew eventually we'd be making something public. We've worked on a lot of stuff privately, but this is our first title as a studio and it has our own vision.
TS: The art is definitely reminiscent of GameBoy graphics, due to the colour filter. However, the graphics are 16-Bit, at least, and the sprites bear a strikingly similar appearance to Sword of Mana. What made you choose this aesthetic?
BA: I started doing Game Boy mock ups to experiment with sprites, but it really just worked with the story of Two Brothers. It's an idea we've been toying with for a while, as it's a great way to take advantage of colours the main characters are obsessed with finding.
TS: For a while, I felt like I was playing The Legend of Zelda while I was playing Two Brothers. I think that had a bit to do with the musical choice. The score feels original, but there were enough tones there to make me reflect on Zelda. Does that series have a lot of bearing on this game?
AA: Without The Legend of Zelda, we would have never made games. I remember we had an Ocarina of Time strategy guide and in the back it had screenshots from the entire series. After seeing them, we bought a Super NES from FuncoLand just to play A Link to the Past. We then bought an original Nintendo Entertainment System and played our way obsessively through the series. I think as an artist you are always inspired by one thing. We strived to take our inspiration and create something that is reminiscent of the feeling it gave us.
TS: Looking at the presentation of Two Brothers, I see that you've chosen to take on dramatic sequences with screenshot cutscenes and in-game sequences. Why is that?
AA: We alternate back and forth. So, if it is something very important to the plot we'll break into a full artwork cutscene.
BA: We have an omni-present text box, so the dialogue is always there. You don't have to be fixed to a certain location in order for things to move forward.
AA: A lot of the cutscenes happen as you're playing the game, so you'll have conversations with party members as you're traveling instead of stopping for five minutes, reading text, and having to pull away from the game. We're doing a lot of stuff where we want to have modern concepts, but still feel like an older game.
TS: Two Brothers features a number of puzzle elements. However, the way it approaches these puzzles is fairly unique. Would you care to explain?
AA: We almost play against people's expectations. Many gamers look at the game and realize that it looks akin to Zelda, so we chose to make the solutions different from what they would be in a Zelda title. For instance, there is a life and death mechanic for most puzzles. When you die in Two Brothers, you're transported to a colourful afterlife. You can visit characters who died in the game's story to get advice or drag them back down to earth with you when you jump off the ledge in heaven.
TS: What platforms will Two Brothers be available on?
AA: PC, Mac, Linux, and we just started porting to the Wii U. A little bit after launch on computer platforms, you'll be able to play an improved, longer version of the game (the Director's Cut) on the Wii U eShop.
TS: How soon can people start playing this game?
BA: This summer on the PC, Mac, and Linux. We're excited to get it in people's hands, and hope your readers really enjoy the experience.
RPGamer would like to thank Andrew and Brian Allanson for participating in this interview. Based on my hands-on with the upcoming indie release, Two Brothers is shaping up to be an excellent title that is sure to please adventure gamers new and old. Check out Ackk Studios' official website for further details and media.