Published Dec 20, 2013Created by Copenhagen studio Press Play, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a spiritual sequel to Max & the Magic Marker, the indie WiiWare, iOS and PC hit that inspired Microsoft to buy the company in 2012. This darker take on the Max myth — in which Max is not erased but brutally killed over and over — finds our hero acting decidedly anti-heroic.
In a textbook case of be careful what you wish for, Max casts a spell that he finds online (seriously, parents need to restrict their kids' Internet access) on his annoying littler brother which sees said sibling pulled by a monster into a fantastical and deadly dimension.
Realizing that this is gonna get him in a whole heap of trouble, Max jumps into the portal to rescue his brother. Easier said than done.
Curse of Brotherhood is essentially a Super Mario-style platformer, but the game involves far more than just running across a screen filled with deserts, jungles, temples and swamps. Though no longer in the title, Max does still possess a magic marker that can alter his environment — be it drawing a geyser of water, growing vines, raising dirt or manipulating trees — so you can work out the physics-based puzzles before you get brutally killed over and over. That said, the Xbox One controller is not as forgiving as one might hope when using it to draw onscreen, unlike the original game's Wiimote, mouse or touchscreen.
Oh, and yes, it feels a little weird playing an old-fashioned sidescroller on a next-gen Xbox One — it will also eventually make it to the Xbox 360, for which it was initially coded, but that release date remains unannounced — but the cartoonish 2.5D graphics at 60fps with cinematic camerawork sure do look pretty on the new console. (Press Play/Microsoft)