Max: The Curse of Brotherhood Review

Dan Webb

When Microsoft purchased Danish developer Press Play back in 2012, there was always the question, “why?” With very few franchises under their belt or much triple-A experience, it was a questionable choice. Now we know why. To create a successor to their original hit, Max & the Magic Marker. Interesting. Of course, the studio also has an unannounced title under wraps at the studio but for now, Xbox One owners, craving some more next-gen action, will have to make do with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.

The Curse of Brotherhood sees the eponymous protagonist, Max, wish his annoying little brother, Felix, would just disappear, only to have a other-worldly beast swipe him and take him to another realm where Max, ironically, has to go and save him. Armed with nothing but his magic marker, Max must to avoid dastardly traps, solve taxing puzzles and avoid imminent danger, all in the name of brotherly love.

Erm... It's a bit dark in here.

Those familiar with the original will feel largely at home in this 2D platforming, puzzle-driven affair, once they get a feel for the new mechanics, that is. Instead of Max having to collect ink for his marker to solve puzzles, Max now has that already blessed upon him. Max now has to seek out magic marker spots with which to interact with the marker, to tackle the dangerous landscape he’s faced with.

These magic marker spots, delivered in-game using different coloured inks, all have their own unique attributes, and more often than not, you’ll have to use the two together to solve tricky puzzles. The four main marker abilities allow Max to make columns rise out of the ground; to make branches that can be cut to help Max platform jump to his destination; create vines to swing on; and steer water jet streams, to allow Max to boost himself to where he wants to go.

Max and his lil' bro. Aw.

In some instances, this predetermined aspect makes Curse of the Brotherhood an easier game than the original. That’s not to say it’s not testing at times. Oh boy, it can be a real head scratcher, but it does take the edge off the more creative aspect at times. Curse of the Brotherhood also says goodbye to Max’s ability to stop time, taking away from the fluidity of the games at times, leaving you with the usual chase sequences, and this time, the more laborious puzzle solving sections.

It’s a simple game in truth, one that doesn’t really stretch the boundaries of gaming too much, and despite the puzzles being challenging enough and the game being enjoyable, for the most part, it comes with its problems. For one, the lack of fluidity between platforming and using the magic marker powers makes the game feel a little disjointed at times. It also fails to actively signpost some of the interactive marker points, leaving you stumped for ideas when you really shouldn’t be. And lastly, and rather more importantly, the game suffers from some interesting difficulty spikes towards the end of the game, meaning it becomes more about trial and error – especially the chase sequences – than problem solving per se.

[Insert Tarzan shout here]

The achievements themselves are relatively easy and a good chunk of them will come through in a normal playthrough. Completing certain levels without dying or meeting a certain criteria are going to provide the majority of the frustration, but it’s easy enough. That doesn’t mean it’s a particularly good list, but it’s decent enough. Yes, there are collectibles, and yes, you can go back and get them if you miss them, but other than that, there really isn’t that much to the game.

That being said, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is an enjoyable enough 2D puzzle platformer, and with there being a distinct lack of titles on Xbox One at the moment, you can’t really go wrong with it. While it might be fun and taxing at times, there’s not much real replayability, and don’t jump in expecting a thrilling tale of deception and backstabbery. It’s simple, short-lived fun, and that’s about it.


The audio soundtrack is rather delightful with a whole array of nifty, catchy tunes from start to finish.

The art-style is a pleasure, opting for a more playful cartoony visual style. There’s some great diversity in the levels as well, which really shines through.

The game lacks fluidity between its character movement, the puzzle-solving marker action, and controlling an obvious touch-screen inspired interface via an analogue stick isn’t ideal, but it’s fun and taxing at the same time.

It’s good enough while it lasts, which isn’t more than 4 or 5 hours at a push.

A decent enough list for a simple game that really doesn’t offer too much to the imagination.

For what it is, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a charming, yet rather restrictive 2D, puzzle-platformer. Despite its limited scope, lack of replayability and depth, there’s some fun to be had here, if only for a while.

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