LifeIsXbox’s Bramble review | Bramble has managed to catch my eye on Twitter more than once. Every time a clip was shared, its distinguished style stopped my scrolling cold in its tracks, with the eerie monsters from Nordic fairytales. This looked like a game I shouldn’t pass up on, and now it’s finally here and we get to see if it lives up to the self-built hype.
In Bramble: The Mountain King, a little boy named Ölle shrinks down to the size of a thumb and has to go looking for his lost sister in a fairytale realm influenced by gloomy Scandinavian horror. Being so tiny already has the potential to make everything seem scary, but when human-sized monstrosities jump at you like they are re-enacting a scene from Attack on Titan, it’s all the more terrifying. It has plenty of uplifting and sunny moments too, but they’re mostly there to cleverly veil the horrors that lie in wait.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Visually stunning | Bramble has a few truly gorgeous scenes that are only enhanced by the sense of scale, bringing the camera down this low to the ground level makes everything look more impressive. From giant slabs of worm-infested meat in a butcher’s kitchen, to the mushrooms and flowers in a pleasant meadow.
- The enchanting music | I went into this thinking it would be a horror game, and it certainly dives into that territory more often than not, but that only made me appreciate the quiet moments more. From riding a hedgehog lured by a worm-on-a-stick, to playing hide-and-seek with some friendly gnomes. And when these scenes get accompanied by music like in the clip below, the effect can be truly magical.
- Varied Environments | Bramble is not a terribly long game, yet it still managed to show a nice selection of vistas to take in. From a dark forest, to a sunny clearing, straight back into a zombie-filled village. It’s bloody, it’s gruesome and then it shares a moment of beauty to calm your nerves again. It’s certainly a trip worth going on!
- Hauntingly scary | I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something about the way the monsters attack you in broad daylight or how insignificant you feel compared to their towering size, that succeeded in making me feel uneasy, and I’m a huge horror-game fanatic. It’s kind of comparable to how it felt seeing an alien walk across the streets in Signs (the movie): it still feels like unexplored territory when the existential horrors don’t stay hidden in the dark.
- It often manages to surprise | There is something funny about walking around with a pack of gnomes, expecting them to get home safe while they follow you, only to see their heads fly off when they walk into a bear trap. There are a few moments in Bramble where I really didn’t see the next little twist coming, and that’s a wonderful feeling.
- Storybook moments | There are a few storybooks hidden throughout the game, explaining the boss fights and the lore behind them and the way the narrator told these had me enchanted from beginning to end. It’s a great way to learn more about these mythical monsters. The Nordic setting and fairytales definitely steal the show!
- Fantastic boss fights | Without spoiling the story too much, there are some wonderful boss encounters (as well as some frustrating ones) and the game’s finale even gave me goosebumps with its sense of scale and epic music.
- The characters | In motion, they look OK, but it feels like the characters haven’t received the same amount of polish in realism as the environments. Whenever a cinematic camera gets too close to show the details, we’re reminded that this is a smaller team and didn’t have infinite resources at their disposal. It’s only because some of the set-piece moments look so damn impressive in the first place that I noticed the difference at other times.
What we Disliked
- Frustrating movement & camera at times | Having to walk a diagonally placed plank is perhaps the greatest horror the game has to offer, because it certainly caused the most deaths. There is something about the movement to adjusting to the camera angle that managed to frustrate me countless times, but luckily the checkpoints are never that far back and you can attempt the crossing again soon enough.
- The Pesta boss fight | When fighting the plague witch I uttered a few swearwords as the timing on her attacks is not very forgiving. It took a lot of trial and error to dodge her gaping mouth attack or jumping over her giant rake.
- Hard Achievement | Obviously not subtracting any points for this, but there is one achievement that requires beating the game without dying once. Take away the boss fights that could accidentally trigger a death if you’re not paying attention and you’ll still die a couple of times to the camera/poor platforming, so that’s sadly the only achievement in the game I’ll have to forego.
How long to beat the story | 4 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | If you use a guide, you can get the full 1000G in a single run: ~5 hours. But beware the achievement for not dying. If you’re not save scumming to reset before your death, this could take a loooooong time.
You’ll love this game if you like these | Limbo, Inside, Little Nightmares.
Want to see Bramble: The Mountain King in action? We’ve got you covered!
Bramble: The Mountain King is an epic adventure that’s sure to make you feel small. You play as a pint-sized protagonist navigating a world of Nordic nightmares and haunting folklore that steal the show, but the enchanting music sure doesn’t play second fiddle. It’s a fairytale fright fest you shouldn’t miss out on!
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.