Video Games

Bramble: The Mountain King’s Dark Themes Make it Stand Out

Gloomy fantasy worlds are nothing new, but Bramble: The Mountain King blew me away with its dark Norse folklore. Instead of sanitizing these fairy tales like a classic Disney movie, Dimfrost Studio openly embraces its most disturbing elements to present an atmospheric, twisted world. Calling this terrifying adventure a horror game isn’t quite right, but after a lengthy hands-on preview on PC, we found this to be a gripping yet spooky tale.

Before diving in, Bramble warns about heavy subject matter, covering themes such as suicide, infanticide, and animal cruelty. But for those who don’t know, it’s worth noting. Playing a boy called Ole, this story begins with a trip to the night forest to find his older sister Lil Mole. As you traverse this winding forest, it quickly turns into a rescue mission.

While many games encourage you to take off-the-beaten-path paths, Bramble keeps exploration strictly linear from A to B. Moving forward is often the only no-back option, and sometimes we split this up with climbing or light platform segments. You can look through some highlighted objects on your journey, such as pine cones and picture books. That’s all. On one occasion, we turned a matchbox upside down to unlock a hidden key, and found no similar interaction in 3 hours of playtime, except for the opening of the game.

Exploration feels like the basic, simplistic event that separates these moments. For example, playing hide-and-seek with the gnomes feels more distracting than meaningful. Bramble’s fun is in its story, and Dimfrost strikes a delicate tone with its environmental storytelling that never fails to put your mind at ease. When I look at Olle and Lil Mall, I can’t get rid of the eerie feeling of a valley. Still, dark forests and beautiful meadows create a strong presentation that maintains the charm of this haunting world.

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