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Bramble: The Mountain King Review in 3 Minutes – A Dark Nordic Adventure


Bramble: The Mountain King is a four-to-five-hour 3D horror adventure game developed by Dimfrost Studio and published by Merge Games. You play as Olle, a young boy woken up by a nightmare in the dead of night. When searching for his sister, we quickly learn she stumbled into the forest and was captured by terrifying creatures. Olle must now navigate through a sinister world of monstrous beasts inspired by Swedish folklore, meet a mix of mythical creatures, and save his sister.

The title shares some DNA with games like Inside and Little Nightmares. You’ll be platforming, helplessly hiding to avoid danger, solving a puzzle here and there, and eventually battling a boss until the cycle repeats. Shortly into the game, Olle obtains an orb of light called the Spark of Courage, which is used as a weapon to defeat enemies as well as a source of light. In terms of gameplay, nothing is tremendously unique. Outside of Olle’s slow and poor cardio, the controls function pretty well.

I have a mixed relationship with the visuals in Bramble. The contrast between the bright and welcoming forests to tight and sinister locations is completely enthralling. The developers definitely nailed the tone with each area. However, the same can’t be said of some of the character models. Our protagonist and most enemies seem a bit unpolished, which took away a sense of fear and concern. Sure – enemies can appear creepy, but at no point did I feel terrified or scared, which made the horror element fall flat.

Surprisingly, I was a big fan of the plot and how it unfolded. The cutscenes do a great job of organically moving the narrative forward at a healthy pace. Although our protagonist and his sister don’t speak a line of dialogue, the narrator is able to pick up the slack with an excellent performance — especially when you’re interacting with a storybook, where she provides the origin story of each upcoming boss. The way the narrator mirrors a parent or guardian retelling a story adds a perfect extra layer to the narrative.

Additionally, I quite enjoyed the simplistic boss fights and puzzling. I expected battles to be cookie-cutter, requiring Olle to use his Spark of Courage to spam his enemies. Instead, it tied in more survival elements and waited for the perfect moment to strike. The oversimplified approach carries over into the minor puzzling, where players must construct potions based on the shapes labeled on a door. I personally struggled finding each potion, which I chalk up to user error. Nothing here reinvents the wheel, but gameplay maintains a steady momentum.

Bramble: The Mountain King isn’t without its flaws. The gameplay is straightforward and borrows elements from popular indies in the horror genre, and with the plot swimming in folklore and a fantastic narrator, it’s easy to invest into the linear story. However, the game is quite short and the character models don’t instill fear as the devs intended — essentially removing a core element of the game.

Bramble: The Mountain King is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X | S for $29.99.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Bramble: The Mountain King.

About the author

Will Cruz
Meet Will Cruz, the Associate Producer in the AAA space and a regular critic via the 3 Minute Review series. But that's not all -- he also produces closed captions for The Escapist! Will's journey in the video game industry began in 2015, when he produced content for TrueAchievements. While pursuing his bachelor's in Film and Digital Media, he focused on content creation and has since worked with big names such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Disney, Netflix, and more. In his free time, Will is known to play Fortnite, read comics, write new songs, and constantly complain about sports and sports entertainment – looking at you, WWE and AEW.