Bramble: The Mountain King is presented like a dark, Nordic Grimm-like fable, which is well narrated by Nola Kop–in fact, Bramble sounds superb throughout. Parts of it may look and sound cute and pretty (the main characters look like dolls), but Bramble definitely isn't for kids-or the fainthearted.
You play as Olle (pronounced 'Oola'), who wakes one night to find that his sister Lillemor has disappeared. Naturally he decides to go.looking for her in the dark, mysterious woods, despite mother's orders not to stray. This advice would have been wisely heeded as Olle and Lillemor seem to live in an oversized world where toads are the size of a truck and giant trolls wander the landscape…
You make friends with a community of Gnomes, and they become allies throughout the game as you save them from various difficulties and problems that have befallen them. You make another, much larger friend too, who returns to help you out of tricky situations.
As I mentioned, Bramble is an adult fairytale as witnessed by moments of extreme gore and grizzly deaths–some are particularly cruel and could upset the delicate. Bramble has some genuinely scary sections and more than a few jump scares.
The gameplay consists of many platform adventure tropes; jumping, climbing, hiding, running away, herding, pushing objects into more useful positions and a lot of nasty traps. Some of the platform sections feel a bit "floaty", and while Olle controls accurately enough even when "running" he doesn't move with any haste. He never grabs an edge to save himself if you misjudge a jump slightly or walk too near a drop.
As I mentioned, Bramble supplies plenty of "jump scares" but has a foreboding atmosphere throughout and more than a few extended scary escapes as Olle is chased or hunted. These are traded off by regular sections with beautiful scenery that looks amazing on our Xbox Series X. Bramble uses elements seen in top games such as Plague Tale, Limbo, Inside and even Shadow of the Colossus, not to mention classic survival horror games like Resident Evil.
Bramble consists of exploration and puzzle sections that usually lead up to a chapter's boss battle. These vary from hard to flippin' hard, but are all doable. The achievement/trophy for playing through the entire game will be well earned, that's for sure.
I've been looking forward to Bramble since I first laid eyes on it and it didn't disappoint, but it didn't blow me away either. Also available on PC and PlayStation, Bramble is only £24.99 on the Xbox Store. Quality graphics, its varied gameplay, clever level design and challenging boss battles always made me want to return and left me with some memorable moments, which is more than I can say for some games of late.