Bramble: The Mountain King Preview – An Absolutely Powerful Experience That Will Leave You Trembling
I think we can all agree that fairy tales are creepy as hell. When looking through any Brothers Grimm fairy tales, nightmares are soon to follow, no matter how much Disney tries to twist them. Bramble: The Mountain King borrows from the setting of many of these stories, emphasizing atmosphere and narrative. From the opening moments of this new preview build, I could tell I was not mentally prepared for what I was about to experience.
In this new build of Bramble: The Mountain King, I was able to play through the Nearby Forest and Skogsra’s Grove levels. The tone for these stages is entirely different from the previous playable demo featuring Nacken’s Pond. The main protagonist, Ollie, may still be in over his head, but he can find courage in the form of a light in the darkness.
The walk through the forest highlights a few gameplay mechanics, such as interacting with objects and exploring. Examining objects will likely be a significant system in the game, as I was able to twist a matchbox to reveal a hidden key. The environment can also be interacted with to examine various objects closely.
The player is more or less led by the moonlight shining through the trees of this dark forest, and using headphones reveals some detailed atmospheric sounds. There are subtle jump scares in the form of animal noises and the fear of being watched, but this is essentially a way to set the tone for what’s ahead.
Soon, Ollie finds an object made of light that can be thrown around. We see a more playful side of the experience as Ollie and his older sister Lillemor pass around the light. It creates a sense of security that doesn’t last long.
On the other hand, Skogra’s Grove is a boss encounter where players face off against a foe. This battle begins pretty straightforward, with your only goal to take down this creature. There’s no context as to why this battle is taking place, and I prefer that, but during the battle’s final moments, you feel a sense of pity for the boss. She is evil, there’s no doubt about it, as she taunts you with an image of your sister, but there’s nothing to prepare the player for the final attack.
It raises the question of players simply listening to the game’s instructions regardless of the outcome. I say this as a prompt has the player repeatedly stab the creature. Over and over, the prompt asks to stab again, and I listen. However, after a while, I learned I didn’t need to stab the creature at all; it was dead. I felt helpless and began to tremble at the sight of the corpse. I knew what had to be done, but to what extent did I or the game take it too far? The minimal context of the event reminded me of Shadow of the Colossus as you do what you need to do to progress, but you’re left questioning your actions.
Bramble: The Mountain King has easily become my most anticipated game releasing this spring. Its atmosphere and mechanics deliver an exciting experience that only the context of the adventure could hinder. It’s an experience that will make you question your actions but also provides you with a world full of curiosity and explorable environments to capture your imagination. However, this game is nightmare fuel for days and one that goes beyond scary environments, causing me to also be scared of myself.
Bramble: The Mountain King is coming to PlayStation, Xbox, and PC via Steam on April 27, 2023.
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