We review the work of the peculiar and controversial Josef Fares, from film director to one of the most talented video game creators today.
For a few years now, the Swedish-Lebanese Josef Fares, who will soon launch his new game, It Takes Two, is one of those creators who not only leaves no one indifferent, but also makes any public appearance outstanding news. Surely his famous departure from the tone at The Game Awards 2017, accompanied by the accomplice smile of Geoff Keighley, is his most memorable moment, but precisely these performances are the tree that does not let us see the forest, and we are talking about one of the Today’s most talented creators.
What is clear is that the momentum is what guides Fares, a guy capable of abandoning his promising film career in pursuit of his true passion, which is evident are video games. Yes, and before developing his first title, Fares had directed no less than six films, one of them (Zozo, 2005) even being selected by the Swedish Academy to represent his country at the Oscars of that year, although in the end she did not pass the cut to be among the nominees for the award.
A promising debut
Only three years after directing his last film, in 2003, he released his first video game: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, with which Fares did not lose the habit of receiving good reviews with his work, achieving an average in Metacritic above the 80 in all its desktop versions and reaching 90 on PC, staying at 79 on its port for Nintendo Switch. But reviews and notes aside, without a doubt it is a tremendously risky game in its conception, especially playable, and it is that few titles put us at the controls of two characters simultaneously.
For its development, Fares joined forces with the Swedish studio Starbreeze, not one of the most popular in Europe but capable of creating notable titles such as The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, the peculiar The Darkness, Payday 2 or Syndicate, the game based on Bullfrog’s popular strategy work, which was far from being considered a commercial success for Electronic Arts. In fact, and although they are not bad games at all in any case, we cannot speak of any of them as a game that will dazzle the public in a massive way, and therefore the Nordics had to focus on a minor project, in the format exclusively downloadable, but at the risk of having the direction of a guy who had just left the film industry and was taking his first steps in the video game industry.
But yes, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons had a very prominent reception, and from the first moments in which we witness the death of the mother of its two protagonists, it is clear that the narrative will be one of the pillars, not only this game in particular, but of all the work of Fares in general. The adventure of these brothers leads them to look for the Water of Life, the only remedy that can restore their father to health and prevent both from becoming completely orphans, and from there Fares places us in the first difficulty, and that is, as we said before, handle both at the same time. In an original way, we control each of the brothers, to put it in some way, with each half of the control, that is: stick and right triggers for one, stick and left triggers for the other. This results in a control at first, and obviously complicated, but that is perfectly solved as most puzzles are a matter of ingenuity rather than speed or skill in command.