Michael Leparc On January 15, 2014 at 10:15 am

Max The Curse of Brotherhood-01
It’s pretty much a tradition that every new console is christened with some kind of platformer. Knack was the PS4’s first crack at it on that system, but Xbox One managed to launch without this gaming staple right out of the gate. But now comes along Max: The Curse of Brotherhood to rectify it, albeit as an affordable digital download rather than a full blown retail disc, and in that role it more than fits the bill, even if it could be improved on a bit here and there.

The game starts with Max dealing with the predicament of older brothers everywhere (although being the younger sibling myself I wouldn’t understand): little brothers sneaking into your room, messing with your stuff, and just being plain annoying. So he looks up a spell on his laptop to make his brother disappear, and lo and behold it works… TOO well, as a dark portal opens up and drags him in. Of course Max jumps in after him just in time as these things usually go. In this new world Max discovers an ongoing battle between two good and evil wielders of magic, the latter of whom has designs on using Max’s brother to reinvigorate his decaying body. Max and his magic marker, infused by the good witch’s power, aim to put a stop to that of course.

And that is where the gameplay revolves around, the ability of Max’s marker to manipulate specific parts of his environment in order to overcome obstacles, reach new heights, and trick the enemies that would do him in. As you go along the marker unlocks new abilities, from raising columns of rock, extending tree branches in whatever direction you draw, and growing and attaching vines between all these elements. There’s even a lot of physics interaction involved which goes quite a way to solving many of the puzzles in the game. I was impressed by how many solutions I was able to improvise that I’m certain weren’t intentionally designed, just by crafting interesting shapes for my tree branches and affecting them one way or another. Is there a lot of trial and error and death involved in some of this, along with some imperfection or unexpected results? Sure, but it’s nothing inordinately discouraging. My only complaint is that by forcing you to stop, pull the right trigger, and control the marker with the left thumbstick, it makes doing the platforming at the same time as messing with the environment difficult, and that’s especially noticeable during chase sequences or other situations where you’re working against time. It couldn’t hurt to move that to the right thumbstick and allow you to perform certain actions while moving. But other than that the game controls tightly and doesn’t break you out of the swing of things.

Visually, Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood does well for itself drawing from the well of the Pixar style CGI kids film art style. Because this style isn’t terribly demanding on a next gen system like the Xbox One, the framerate is a silky smooth 60 fps outside of a few cut scenes for the most part, and doesn’t cower away from giving you a full 1080p of resolution. My ears delighted in the soundtrack underlying this game, and the voice acting is competent at telling what story there is, but it did get a bit irksome to hear Max exclaim “No! No! No!” over and over again at each scary moment. Mix it up a bit next time, please!

Is this a game you’ll remember years down the line as a landmark title for the Xbox One? Hardly, but if you’re looking for yet another nifty 2.5D platformer with some fun physics puzzles, then Max should be a welcome addition to your budding young library. 360 owners not planning to upgrade soon should also keep an eye out for their version of this game coming out later in the year.


Solid concepts and good controls. Part Trine and part Kirby’s Canvas Curse.


Smooth and pretty if not ground breaking.


Playful soundtrack keeps things lighthearted.


A well executed platformer that should keep you entertained and challenged throughout.

Comments are closed.