I got my first look at Bramble: The Mountain King during IGN’s Summer of Gaming showcase last year, and since then, it has been one of the games I’ve been the most excited to play. I mean, come on, the way that scary creature rises out of the lake… TERRIFYING. It ticked all the right boxes for me on initial impressions alone, and now, after playing it, I’m happy to report that it felt equally enthralling to play.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Bramble: The Mountain King puts players in the role of Olle, who awakens one night to find that his older sister, Lillemor, has escaped from their bedroom by climbing out of the window – something their mother had warned them against. Fearful for her wellbeing, Olle ventures out to find her, and eventually does, though not before they end up separated again when a troll captures Lillemor and takes her away. It’s up to you to rescue her.

It’s a tale that’s heavily inspired by Nordic folklore, with all sorts of mesmerising sights and terrifying creatures encountered along the way, with Bramble: The Mountain King taking a much darker turn than players might initially expect given the fantasy-driven introduction. Whilst things seem cheery at first as you play hide-and-seek with a bunch of friendly gnomes, the later situations you find yourself in can be really disturbing – there’s one particular monster you encounter in the game that still creeps me out now, whilst seeing Olle sliced in half or having his skull crushed ALWAYS caught me off-guard. It does a brilliant job of making the player feel uneasy, and whilst you’ll see plenty of beauty along your adventure, Bramble: The Mountain King feels more like a horror game than anything else. It’s a very DIFFERENT type of horror to the norm though, with the intense atmosphere keeping me engrossed right until the very end.

When it comes to the gameplay, there’s a heavy emphasis placed on exploration and puzzle-solving, with players having to find their way through each mesmerising locale whilst completing some fairly standard platforming segments. Bramble: The Mountain King is pretty linear in design, but it offers enough variety with its locales and puzzles to ensure players won’t tire of exploring its luscious world. Admittedly, the platforming could be a little bit clunky in places (mainly when having to pull off precise jumps with a fixed camera angle), but not to the point where it becomes problematic… you just have to get used to it. A generous checkpoint system ensures you won’t lose much progress if you do die, so it has that going for it too.

“It does a brilliant job of making the player feel uneasy, and whilst you’ll see plenty of beauty along your adventure, Bramble: The Mountain King feels more like a horror game than anything else.”

You’re even able to throw objects and use weapons when the situation calls for it, with Olle having a few tricks up his sleeve when it comes to getting out of sticky situations. These abilities develop as you progress through the game, giving Olle an enhanced skillset to handle the more elaborate situations you find yourself in. Bramble: The Mountain King always gives you something fresh to do across its adventure, with new mechanics and creative puzzles keeping the experience engaging. Add to that the impressive boss encounters which really highlight just how scary the creatures of the game can be and it’ll be clear that Bramble: The Mountain King really is a finely crafted experience.

I guess the main thing the game has going against it is that it could be a bit too simple. Whilst there’s lots to see and do, it’s rare that the game’s mechanics feel particularly deep or intricate enough to make players feel like they’re doing something unique. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly had fun playing, but the design felt very by the numbers and didn’t offer anything that I hadn’t seen before – especially since so much time is spent performing basic platforming manoeuvres when traversing each locale.

Fortunately, it makes up for it with its foreboding atmosphere. Whilst Bramble: The Mountain King won’t win any awards for innovation, the way it fluctuates between moments of beauty and sheer terror will certainly keep players on the edge of their seat. It can be utterly terrifying one moment, but then make you encounter cute little creatures in the next (which often meet a grisly end quite swiftly, poor things). As a fan of horror, this ticked plenty of the right boxes for me, but what was most impressive was how it always managed to surprise me. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but Bramble: The Mountain King is packed with shocking (but gripping) moments that’ll easily catch you off-guard with just how sinister they can feel. It was my favourite thing about the game, and what made its roughly five-hour adventure so memorable for me.

Check out some screenshots down below:

It looks fantastic too, with some wonderful visuals showcased throughout. The world itself looks beautiful and the creature designs are top notch, with everything brought to life with impressive visual and lighting effects. The camera angles all add to the cinematic presentation of the game, whilst the sound design complements the wonderful presentation. The only thing I didn’t like? Olle and Lillemor’s faces. I’m being a bit fussy, but they just looked a little… weird.

Bramble: The Mountain King Review

Bramble: The Mountain King offers an adventure that’s beautiful and horrifying in equal measure, so expect to be kept on the edge of your seat when playing. Don’t get me wrong, it can be guilty of keeping things simple and there’s not much here you wouldn’t have seen before from a gameplay perspective, but the way that it keeps players hooked in with its luscious world and terrifying encounters with enemies is simply enthralling. It’s rare that a game manages to shock me time and time again when playing, but man, Bramble: The Mountain King maintained that unnerving sense of fear right until the very end.

Developer: Dimfrost Studio
Publisher: Merge Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1623940/Bramble_The_Mountain_King/