Bramble: The Mountain King
Developer: Dimfrost Studios
Publisher: Merge Games
Genre(s): Adventure, Horror
Age Rating: TBC
Release Date: 27/04/2023
A code was provided for review purposes
The Dark World of Bramble
I first caught a glimpse of Bramble: The Mountain King on Twitter and then TikTok; I was intrigued by the juxtaposition between an innocent child as the protagonist, fleeing from terrifying monsters! The environments looked stunning, and I loved the idea of exploring Nordic fables, something I don’t know too much about. I’m grateful to say we got to preview the game here at Rapid Reviews, with a short introduction to the mechanics and a boss fight; so what are my initial thoughts on a title I was looking forward to playing?
The overall story is that you are Olle, a little boy in search of his sister, encountering the dangers of Bramble along the way. The preview has a heartwarming interaction with the siblings, playing with a magical fragment named the Spark of Courage, also giving us a look into the throwing mechanics used. Though I didn’t get to experience a lot of story in the preview, I think Olle’s search for his sister will resonate with people. Since they’re only children, too, players will feel a lot of empathy and want to keep playing to (hopefully?!) see them safely reunited.
The use of Nordic fables gives us unique bosses to come up against, which is what I think makes Bramble: The Mountain King stand out, as they are not creatures I have ever seen before. The boss battle featured in the preview is against the Skogsra, a type of forest spirit.
Bramble itself didn’t tell you explicitly the story of the Skogsra. Rather it offers an interpretation of what it looked like. Regardless, it made me go away to look into the folktale. Bramble could then be seen as educational, going away from the game to explore more and perhaps discover a new interest. I’m looking forward to seeing what other grim creatures you can encounter in the full game!
The Power of Courage
The preview explores what I assume will be the core mechanics of the game. There are basic platform sections, running and jumping through the rocks and crumbling wooden bridges of the forest. This, along with the horror element and child protagonist, strongly reminded me of Little Nightmares. I imagine in the full game, you’ll be scrambling away as you’re chased by monsters! You could also interact with items for a closer look; one part I thought was clever was rotating a matchbox so that it dropped open and revealed a key inside, then having to rotate it more so the key fell out.
As mentioned, there was the fragment which you used as a weapon during the boss fight, throwing it and even having it transform into a sword at one point. The boss battle had classic boss elements, with the Skogsra having different waves. You have to avoid spikes bursting out of the forest floor and a tidal wave of earth spreading from the Skogsra.
I don’t want to spoil how to defeat her, but I liked that it wasn’t immediately obvious what to do. I died a few times before realising, through experimenting and something within the arena catching my eye. It wasn’t super hard, but it wasn’t simple, either. You must constantly stay on the ball moving to avoid dying. I’m very intrigued to see the rest of the bosses!
The visuals were stunning, the environments almost hyper-realistic, with fantastic lighting, such as the moon shining down into the forest. Olle and his sister have sweet designs with cute rosy cheeks and bright eyes, juxtaposed by the twisted creatures and gory actions Olle must do (believe me, the end of the preview is extremely dark!). The Skogsra design is scarily beautiful, instantly instilling fear in me. I think we’ll see more gore and disturbing moments in the full game of Bramble: The Mountain King.
Overall, playing the preview has me even more excited for Bramble’s release in April! The world is eerie but gorgeous, the mechanics are interesting, and the difficulty presents a moderate challenge. I’m hoping for some more scary moments, and I can’t wait to see what Olle has to encounter in his journey.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.