Publisher: Merge Games
Developer: Dimfrost Studios
Release Date: 04/27/2023
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Linear narrative-driven adventure games are some of my favorites. Bramble does a great job trying to be a be different than the rest by delivering a little bit of everything and not overstaying its welcome. You play as Olle who is trying to rescue his captured sister from the Bramble and evil forest creatures who took her.
The game does a great job of luring you into a false sense of security. The game starts out bright and colorful with beautiful sweeping vistas of green. You get to solve various simple puzzles with cute gnomes that laugh like little babies. The first third of the game is cheerful and bright…until it suddenly isn’t. Bramble quickly turns dark, gory, and downright depressing very quickly. Sacrificed babies, wading through pools of animal gore, climbing moldy meat, and those cute little gnomes get slaughtered at some point. It’s just done abruptly and suddenly and it’s shocking.
The majority of the game has you running around areas with fixed camera angles jumping, climbing, pushing the occasional push, twisting the odd lever, and solving the easiest puzzles. I honestly don’t know why these puzzles are even here. Exploration is also non-existent. You go into a room with a locked door only to have the key on the table in front of you. This happens multiple times as well. I don’t understand the point of it. There is a bit of combat thrown in, but it’s saved for boss fights. You have a ball of light that’s not only used to illuminate areas and clear some paths, but you can chuck it at weak points at bosses. The boss fights are the only challenge in the whole game as you must memorize attack patterns and dodge, jump, or toss your ball at the right moments through waves of attacks.
The environments are constantly changing and all look fantastic. Depth of field is used well here as you are a small person in a giant’s world so everything from blades of grass to a normal size rock is huge this is well shown and the perspective is pretty cool with the depth of field effects used. Textures look great and models look good too. The entire game is narrated by a woman so it’s the only voice acting in the game. I do want to mention that the soundtrack is gorgeous. During chapter changes, and while the camera pans across a vista while you’re running, an incredible vocal soundtrack will play and I honestly would listen to it outside of the game. The soundtrack by Martin Wave and Dan Wakefield is fantastic.
Despite the great pacing, wonderful visuals and soundtrack, and challenging bosses, there still isn’t much of an actual story here. The game is narrated like a children’s storybook from medieval times, but that’s about it. I had no reason to get attached to the characters or world around me. The monster and creature designs are top notch and I always looked forward to the next screen because it was always a surprise. The game is nice and short and is better than most short, linear, narrative-driven adventure titles. I love the dark tone and theme and while you may not discuss this with your friends a year from now it’s at least a sight to behold.