As we started last week with our Weekly Spotlight series, we’ll continue this week with the best Xbox One games available for under $15. Last week was NERO, this week we continue the series with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is developed by former Microsoft first party studio Press Play. It was first released on Xbox One on December 20th, 2013 and served as the follow up to the 2010 game Max & the Magic Marker. In The Curse of Brotherhood, Max is annoyed by his little brother Felix. As most brotherly spats go, Max indicates that he is going to “magic him away”. He proceeds to search for a spell to do so using the website “Giggle” (Don’t want to pay those license fees) and says the magic spell he finds thinking it is just a joke. Unfortunately, it’s not a joke and an interdimensional portal opens up which sucks Felix into it. Max dives in before it closes, and is quickly thrust into a race to save his brother.
The main aspect of gameplay in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a physics based puzzle platformer. Your primary “weapon” is your magic marker, which gains different powers as you progress in the game. In the forest/jungle type levels, Max is able to draw vines he can use to climb or block enemy paths. In the mountain type zones, players can move rocks or create pillars. The game is organized over a total of seven chapters and 20 levels, with each level using a different type of power combination.
As a fan of puzzle games, what I liked most about Max: The Curse of Brotherhood was the variety the puzzles were presented in. While games like Inside and Limbo (neither of which are as complete as Max) simply see you reach an area, solve a puzzle, climb to another area, solve another puzzle, etc, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood combines different types of puzzles. For example, players may need to use their marker to build a pillar in order to see a rock fall down a hill. They’ll then need to time it so as to make another pillar rise as rock is on top of it. It will have to be done quickly, however, as the momentum will send it flying up to another platform. You’ll then have to rearrange the pillars so you can jump on them and make your way up to the rock to move on. This is just one of the easy ones.
There are countless examples of puzzles like this in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. All of them are physics based and require some precision to get right. You will die in Max. In fact, you’ll probably die a lot. I enjoyed the difficulty in the game as it never reached that point of “OH COME ON ALREADY!” that some puzzle games suffer from. Players will need to use a bit of common sense along with practical thinking when solving the puzzles. Dying comes more from precision than trying to figure out how to proceed, and I’ll take that any day of the week over hopeless meandering about. I’m looking at you Limbo. Rather than just the “solve a puzzle and move on” arrangement, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is one giant puzzle broken down into parts. Games’ like Limbo and Inside see you solve a puzzle and walk to the next part without much substance. Max, on the other hand, uses puzzle after puzzle in order to advance. This makes you feel much more involved in the game, especially when combined with the drawing mechanics.
One thing you’ll notice is the beautiful art style. It is reminiscent of a Disney movie while including good humor and intimate story. A brother’s love is a brother’s love, and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood keeps this feeling at the core of the game. Between the intimate story, beautiful aesthetic visuals and intricate, physics based gameplay, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a complete puzzle game that you’ll definitely want to check out.
It is available now for $14.99 on the Microsoft Store, but it is also currently included with the Xbox Games Pass. The program costs $9.99 a month, but you could pick it up for free as part of its 14 day trial.
Check out some gameplay for an appetizer below.