Xbox Series X/S Review: Bramble: The Mountain King

If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…

Bramble: The Mountain King takes you on a gripping and unsettling journey through stunning environments. Take on the role of Olle, a young boy setting off to rescue his sister, kidnapped by a dreaded troll. Not everything in Bramble is exactly how it seems – in this strange land with creatures big and small, you must be careful when to approach and when to hide. Many hungry and spiteful beasts lurk in these forests and caves. Call upon the Spark of Courage, an enchanted fragment granting the gifts you need to endure the pitfalls and trials in your path. Defeat the horrid creatures you encounter in different and unique ways. Be warned, courage without kindness can take you down a dark path.

Bramble: The Mountain King is a platforming adventure that is full of dark, twisted moments that will stay with me forever. The game is based on Nordic fables which I wasn’t familiar with, but damn I wasn’t expecting anything quite like this. You play as Olle, a shy boy who follows his sister into the forest, only to discover a world of gnomes and everything seems cheery, until his sister is kidnapped by a troll and everything becomes increasingly bleak.

The game is on the short side at just a few hours, but it is still quite a challenge as Olle can only sustain a single hit before dying, which is ok for the platforming sections, but not so great for the boss fights that you will come across. These can vary from a shapeshifter that acted as a siren for men’s desires to a Nordic version of the Grim Reaper that tries to eat you or impale you with his giant rake. The plot unravels as you progress and you learn the origins of each Nordic creature, as well as that of the kingdom and the Mountain King himself.

I was seriously impressed with just how horrifying these creatures looked and the detail in not only their design, but also their boss fights as well. Case in point, the final boss’ music is a stroke of genius and definitely one of my favorite moments of the year so far. I did struggle with some of the platforming sections either down to a poorly timed jump or sometimes I didn’t make it for quite random reasons, which is quite annoying when there’s an achievement where you have to complete the entire game without dying. I can imagine there’s some sort of workaround for this achievement, but I think in either case you are going to need a lot of patience to obtain it.

The visuals are simply superb. The environments look dark and full of terror, while the character models, especially those of the Nordic creatures are something truly terrifying and incredible. I honestly wasn’t expecting anything like this but am so pleased that even after all these years reviewing, I can still be pleasantly surprised. The voice-acting is decent, but it’s the soundtrack that steals the show with some epic tunes and haunting melodies that deserve an award.

The Verdict

Although short-lived and perhaps clunky in its platforming at times, Bramble: The Mountain King is one of the most memorable games I’ve played in years. It is full of truly horrifying creatures and moments that will stick with me for a long, long time. I cannot recommend this enough; this game deserves your time.

Score: 9.0