Mystery is one genre that always manages to pull in fans from all over the gaming community. Whether you’re into hardcore fantasy games that you can explore from top to bottom over hundreds of hours or you enjoy a good haunt and a jump scare, mystery has the freedom to combine so many elements taken from each genre, and there is always something for every gaming fan. Lost Brothers is largely mystery at its core, but offers a splash of fantasy, a dash of horror, and a tiny sprinkling of adventure to keep it just intriguing enough.
This is definitely a game of two halves. There are aspects that, while a little underdeveloped, work well in contributing to the overall feel and atmosphere, especially in the mine. But there are many gameplay elements that massively let it down, and in some respect, halts the playability of it. That being said, with some tweaks and fine-tuning, Lost Brothers could be a fantastic game to play, the nature of which will be explored in this preview.
The game has recently gone into Early Access while the developers address the issues, and a new release date of 12 May 2020 has been given. Lost Brothers is available on PC (Steam).
Lost Brothers initially starts with a young John and Sam on a hiking trip. We’re given some dialogue options to choose from between the brothers as they exchange some jovial remarks, but these don’t make much of a difference to the overall story. After discovering Sam missing, we rejoin John at the same camp site ten years later as he searches for his brother. While enjoying a beer, he receives a distress call from a woman called Samantha, trapped in the mines close by and desperate for help. John agrees to help her, but quickly finds himself in an otherworldly place where he discovers diary entries from his missing brother in an ethereal mushroom forest. I won’t spoil too much as this story does have a few twists and turns up its sleeve, and these are best experienced first-hand.
The story contains creepy and heartfelt moments, as John explores his inner demons during his transmissions with Samantha, but one aspect of the story that was a bit of a let down was the ending. Lost Brothers builds up a intriguing narrative, keeps us guessing and maintains the mystery, but unfortunately, the ending felt quite anticlimactic after the creepy, supernatural atmosphere it had built up throughout the rest of the game. Despite that, there is still a lot of potential for it. In my previous article exploring what we could look forward to, I spoke about the potential of dark twists and turns, and it does deliver on that in most respects.
While the story did show some promise, the gameplay was where Lost Brothers hits its brick wall. As with any new game, bugs and glitches are inevitable. There were a few occasions where I got too close to a rock wall and ended up almost falling through it, and sometimes clicking on items and objects took a few attempts before it would let me interact with them. Throughout, the camera constantly drifted. When it came to having to jump on platforms or balance somewhere, I occasionally dropped off the edge because of the unstable camera, even when I wasn’t moving the mouse or using the keypad. As a walking simulator, a lot of walking is expected, but John does move incredibly slowly, and the sprint option doesn’t move us markedly quicker. While that may be a problem for some, I found that the slow pace does offer an opportunity to enjoy the graphics.
As well as this, the game doesn’t contain any voiced characters. While this isn’t a problem as such, as many games choose not to use voice actors, the subtitles were riddled with grammatical mistakes and spelling errors, which for a game with no voiced characters, does make it difficult to navigate at times. The map is quite basic and only shows a rough guide as to where we need to go, but the paths were enough to navigate by, and it was easy enough to find where I needed to be at each point in the story. There was the option to veer off the path slightly and explore the landscape, but there was nothing significant to find off the intended track.
Lost Brothers is an incredibly short game, and can easily be completed and played through in under an hour. While that is good for some, others would prefer a much more fleshed out game that can be played over a series of hours. I felt it could have added a little bit more meat to the bones, as it was quite bare in parts.
Graphics and Audio
There isn’t much in the way of a soundtrack to Lost Brothers apart from the opening theme, and there are a limited amount of sounds going on in the background. Heavy breathing during and after sprinting, the constant footsteps that follows us on our journey, and the crackle of the radio receiver each time we speak to Samantha is all that’s apparent. But the graphics are where this game truly shines.
Throughout the game, each place we explore has an atmospheric feel to it: the forest is calming and autumnal—not only in the visuals but in the faint nature sounds too—and the mines are creepy and eerie. Where this game really comes into its element is the mushroom forest we fall into while searching the mines. This luminescent environment really gives Lost Brothers a supernatural, almost magical feel, and while there is little to find off the guided track, it is worth a little exploration simply because of the look of the place and the visually pleasing aspect it offers.