played At personal computer
Children, don’t go for a walk in the woods at night. The thorn will confuse you, the thorn will entangle you, the thorn will draw you into a thicket. So warns the book that the siblings Olle and Lillemore read at night. Now Olle is standing alone in front of the book, it’s night outside the window, the shutters are open. Lillemore is nowhere to be seen. What to do? It remains only to walk down the sheet from the window to the clearing – it feels somehow uncomfortable without a sister. Yes, and these are all fairy tales, who believes in them. Well, parents… Which parents? ..
In fact, Lillemore has not gone far, and the night forest is no more terrible than the day: there are no wild animals to be seen, wide paths are trodden, the moon perfectly illuminates the path through the transparent pine forest. Why not rush to the ruins of the old tower, a popular place to play? Only this time, the boys suddenly found a wandering light that Olle immediately learned to use skillfully – to illuminate his path and to throw it precisely at the target as if from a slingshot. It’s gonna be a lot of fun, isn’t it? In the meantime, let’s play hide and seek with the gnomes! Oh, what a cute hedgehog they have in the paddock – but why is he as big as us? ..
Bramble is quick to blur the line between myth and reality, but is in no hurry to escalate the tension. First, the siblings embark on an idyllic adventure through the realm of the dwarves: tiny, with huge hats, the dwarves cavort carefree in their cozy little world, which is most reminiscent of the Shire. However, we soon discover that this is the Shire already touched by the Pale Hand, and it is not for nothing that the dwarves are so good at hide-and-seek.
But Lillemor doesn’t quite know how to play hide and seek – and in no time he finds himself in the pocket of a giant troll. Little Olla has no choice but to look for his sister, especially since the light shows the way. And he begins his descent into Hell. More precisely, the mountain king.
Already at this moment, the harmony of the story is somewhat lost: Olle’s path leads through the troll forest, Nekki’s pond, the witch’s swamp – the guy will have to see a lot. But one adventure does not follow the other. It’s just a collection of spooky stories that are either very loosely connected or not connected at all. We are in an anthology of terrible stories from the north of Europe. The ultimate goal of Grieg’s Overture seems sketched out, but the plot movement is not justified in any way by the authors. There are even “magic helpers” here, but their appearance is not exaggerated in any way – where they come from, who they are – the game developers do not even explain such nuances.
This is perhaps Bramble’s main downside – the product honestly lacks integrity. We know the hero’s motivation and goal and even go through trials with him, looking for ourselves and losing… Basically we lose because the injuries on Olle’s journey are bigger than the growth. It really is Very dark history, I warn you. Still, it seems like a fairy tale, there is a basic framework. However, within this framework, everything blurs and crumbles a little. It’s hard to relate to a character who seems to be on a bad trip instead of moving through a logically written story.
And since we’re talking about the shortcomings, we’re going to talk about the gameplay. No, I can’t call this an ongoing mistake – that would be stupid and then there would be no point in talking about Bramble at all. No, the gameplay here is quite tolerable, combining simple platforming, world exploration (there are even some collectibles), rather primitive stealth, puzzles that require minimal mental effort… and fights with bosses. Yes, in the beginning we learn to shine a light for a reason. And these are perhaps the most successful elements in terms of gameplay, exciting and in a positive sense psychedelic moments. But here, too, it easily falls outside the general framework.
The only problem is that Olle is rather clumsily animated – and the same platform sometimes causes more pain than the writers intended. As well as a few but very dreary battles. But at some point, even though the main character of Bramble is a child, the boy’s slowness and clumsiness begins to please. Why would he move like a witch, right? But fact is fact – some gameplay components are just bearable. And even the good parts look like they were made at the end, after the whole adventure was dreamed up. “Oh yes, it’s a video game, there should be gameplay.” With story-oriented works, the situation isn’t that rare – you’re lucky that at least some of the mechanics, apart from “come and see”, are there at all, but you can call it exciting still not denote the gameplay.
Those who’ve read this far are probably wondering why we’re writing about such nonsense at all, especially since it’s escaped the public eye. It’s simple – Bramble: The Mountain King is a truly outstanding work artistically and emotionally.
This game is a collection of little scary stories in the style of a Czech film “Ostrich”, but in this case united by a common outline and the main character. And every single story, while not told in a brilliant way, is presented in a brilliant way. Each individual episode is characterized by a special atmosphere, the antagonists (which sometimes turn out to be something abstract, like the forces of nature) are written powerfully and with each subsequent act the oppressive mood only intensifies. What was initially perceived as a (partly) scary fairy tale turns out to be real horror in the worst case. There are even screams at some points, but that’s far from the point – the effect of the very descent of the protagonist into hell (a kind of interpretation of the Orpheus myth) is mainly achieved through the atmosphere.
Olle nearly drowns in the entrails strewn about the horrible flayer. It saves the dwarves, touchingly squeaking in childish voices – but only for some of them to end their short lives in traps, and the others… okay, let’s not talk about it. Falls in the swamp to mad Nekki, who lures pure souls with his devilish flute. Sneaks through caves full of sobs. He pulls the key from the dead man’s stiff hand, flexing one finger at a time. Participates in a fight with a forest nymph whose behavior is more reminiscent of Andrei Romanovich Chikatilo. And on this journey through terror and darkness, he commits (or fails to commit) acts that he will regret in the future.
But even a superbly written atmosphere paired with wonderful music that combines folkloric motifs and oppressive ambient wouldn’t be enough of a reason to get to know Bramble if the game weren’t also visually stunning. Yes, the animations are a bit sluggish at times, but the environment is incredibly beautifully drawn and, despite the obviously limited budget, manages to create a sense of a living world: a few little ghosts frolic in the grass, the sun plays beguilingly with rays on the Foliage, and wow, that mountain slowly turns in your direction to look at the little boy with unwavering bright eyes. We’re used to the fact that even the most visually sophisticated representatives of the indie scene come across as “poor but tasteful”. Here, too, one senses great taste, but no longer wants to take poverty into account. Bramble: The Mountain King is a really powerful visual experience.
The game is devoid of any variability, cannot attract with particularly interesting gameplay and does not attach great importance to the harmony of plot dynamics, but it is beautiful precisely as a collection of scary Scandinavian fairy tales. These are stories that children could tell each other under the covers at night, but with a degree of cruelty and ruthlessness to the extreme, even towards the listener. Sometimes manipulative, sometimes incoherent, this work still has the powerful force of folklore that Christian Puritanism does not rid of the “unacceptable”. This is precisely the realm of the unacceptable – and at the same time beguiling.
- excellent picture and sound range;
- high emotional intensity (also due to an increased level of cruelty);
- strong folklore base;
- You can ride a hedgehog.
- rather conditional gameplay;
- incomplete animation of the main character and minor control issues;
- the general course of action is difficult to follow;
- must bathe in the bowels.
In dynamics, the game looks better than on the screenshots, gives a really impressive picture and shows completely different characteristics – from an almost monochrome plague village to idyllic natural spaces.
A spectacular combination of folkloric motifs and a somber ambience is powerfully rounded off by a variation on the theme “In the cave of the mountain king”. The characters are not voiced, the narrator speaks for them.
single player game
An adventure in a fantasy world with elements of platforming, stealth and simulated boss fights. Firstly, this is a journey, the gameplay here is relatively conditional (although it can be challenging at times).
Estimated travel time
More of a collection of spooky stories under a common title than a whole story – but each story can be very impressive on its own.
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