Bramble: The Mountain King

This is an image from the video game “Bramble: The Mountain King.” OSV News classification, A-III -- adults. Entertainment Software Rating Board rating, M -- mature. (OSV News photo/Merge)


(OSV News) – Some fairy tales have a dark side and are thus better suited to grown-ups than to kids. The narrative that unfolds in “Bramble: The Mountain King” (Merge) is one example of this.

Inspired by Scandinavian mythology, the game’s beautifully written adventure story includes a considerable amount of mayhem as well as macabre and threatening events that make it inappropriate for youngsters. Mature players, by contrast, will easily handle its more sinister aspects while also appreciating its lyrical interludes.

The plot centers on a young boy named Olle (voice of Ellinor Moren). After discovering that his sister has disappeared, Olle resolves to rescue her. Olle pushes through his fear and remains determined to help even after learning that his missing sibling has, in fact, been kidnapped by a wicked troll.

Along the perilous journey that follows, Olle encounters many potentially terrifying creatures. As is traditional in the genre, some of these mythical beings – fairies and gnomes, for example – are sympathetic and supportive. Others, however, are frighteningly apt to kill anyone who gets in their way. These latter range from giants to plague zombies.

Whenever Olle enters a new environment, a boss battle ensues. Each of these high-level encounters presents its own challenge and each requires a fresh strategy, thus keeping both Olle and the gamer on their toes.

While Olle has his moments of peace wandering through scenic landscapes, some of the combat in which he engages has a nightmarish quality and is marked by unsparing portrayals of bloodletting. If Olle fails to get the better of them, for instance, monsters may bite his head off or slice him in half.

Although free of sexual content, “Bramble” does include images of nudity. Thus one female monster is depicted with exposed buttocks and moss-covered breasts.

Thematically, though – and despite its grimmer components – this is a congenial and even inspiring title. Players witness Olle’s steady personal growth as well as the unbreakable bond that unites him to his sister.

Skillful narration by Nola Klop is matched by the game’s stunning imagery, much of it inspired by the early-20th-century work of Swedish painter and illustrator John Bauer. Unfortunately for those inclined to tarry in the midst of the mystical surroundings thus created, however, gameplay turns out to be relatively linear so there isn’t much room for replayability.

Gamers old enough to engage with its more formidable passages will find Olle’s journey an intriguing quest. Though fraught with dangers, his courageously undertaken mission ultimately proves a rewarding expedition for those who accompany him.

Playable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series and Nintendo Switch.

The game contains graphic violence with gory effects and images as well as rear and partial upper nudity. The OSV News classification is A-III – adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M – Mature.

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