Max: The Curse Of Brotherhood Scoring Review

Have you ever wished that an annoying younger sibling would just disappear and leave you in peace? Well be careful what you wish for, as Max does exactly that and his brother gets sucked into a cartoon wilderness where a creepy old guy wants to steal his youthful spirit. Armed with only a magic marker and his youthful bravado, Max sets off to save him in what proves to be a hugely enjoyable puzzle platform adventure.

Technically a sequel to 2010’s non-Xbox release, Max & The Magic Marker, The Curse of Brotherhood is a far more accomplished title, stretching into a full 2.5D side-scrolling world. And where the original was a low-budget twist on the Scribblenauts theme, with you drawing objects on-screen to help Max keep moving, this is a more scripted but certainly no less challenging game. With a degree of cute visual finesse and some clever physics-based problems to solve, it’s a healthy early example of how well digital titles are being polished for the new console.

The core gameplay is very much in the classic platform mould, with you steering Max across the screen, jumping over obstacles, climbing up ledges, swinging over ravines and other simple staples of the genre. The twist to The Curse of Brotherhood is that in controlling Max’ marker, imbued with the soul of the old Lady Mustacho out to stop her husband, you get to control the environment in a variety of ways. Initially this is by raising (or destroying) pillars of earth, but eventually you’ll get to draw branches (and chop them down for portable platforms), use vines for climbing and swinging, create water flumes to ride and fireballs to launch at enemies and vulnerable defences.

These interactive elements are all scripted in terms of their location and the maximum length you can draw, so in that respect what you need to consider in order to progress is usually quite obvious. However, the Press Play team has put together an assortment of wonderful environments and tricky combinations that often require some serious thought. For example, you can connect vines to branches to create a zipwire, but by cutting the vine at its root it becomes a rope swing – and figuring out which of the many variations will work best in a given situation is a teasing ‘easy when you know how’ process.

By introducing you to the various powers of the marker over time, and throwing in a nice mixture of speedbased sections, slow-motion elements where you need to draw fast to save Max and other nice touches (such as a level where you have to push and manipulate your brother around in a caged ball), it’s a game that’s easy to lose yourself in for hours. We certainly had a lot of fun playing through it, and then going back over the levels to track down the Evil Eye collectibles and hidden pieces of an artefact, as well as nailing the rest of the largely satisfying Achievements.

The game isn’t without a few little bugbears, though. Firstly, it relies a little too much on trial and error in order for you to figure things out. Quite often you’ll be dead before you get a chance to see a hazard ahead, or where the available drawing points are. At one point we were bewitched by a charming horde of fireflies, which turned out to be KILLER fireflies, and later we had to draw a water flume with its required destination an offscreen guess. Small annoyances, admittedly, but a few quick and unavoidable deaths will start to grate after a while. In addition, although the game can get quite exciting during fast-moving on-rails sections, with Max sliding down a giant obstacle course at speed, it’s generally at its worst when you’re forced to draw fast. Adopting what was originally a touch-screen control system for a joypad was always going to be a challenge, and for the most part The Curse of Brotherhood is delightfully playable. However, moving the marker into position and making the right shapes against the clock is often a rather cumbersome procedure and you don’t get a lot of time to spare. Fortunately, if you do screw up, the game has a very generous checkpoint system so you won’t have much to replay and such niggles are largely forgivable by the time you’ve figured out the final boss battle.

Overall, though, with a combination of simple platform gameplay and an imaginative assortment of tough-butnot- overly-complex puzzles to figure out, The Curse of Brotherhood is both a charming and hugely enjoyable title. The fact that there’s not much on the Xbox One to compete with it probably helps, but this is £12 that you certainly wouldn’t begrudge for a fun few days of play.


The Curse of Brotherhood feels like a cheerier version of Limbo played out in a Tomb Raider world. By combining athletic platforming with clever – but not overly complex – physics-based puzzling, there’s a lot of fun to be had sprinting through the obvious and then pausing to figure out more challenging sections. It has a few niggles, but the gameplay is mostly fluent and frequently satisfying and it gives us a healthy optimism for the future of digital titles on the Xbox One.

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