Like many kids, I used to explore the woods and get into all kinds of make-believe adventures. Often, that meant picking up a stick and questing for imaginary treasures. Brume is a low-fi adventure game that takes Dark Souls’ tough combat and adds a touch of whimsical exploration.
Created by Sokpop Collective, Brume is an adventure game for PC and Mac “inspired by Dark Souls, stories by Tolkien, and Irish castles.” The player explores a mysterious island full of swamps, forests, and other locations teeming with giant leeches and tough warriors. If you die, you quickly respawn at the last camp you encountered. It’s a familiar format, seen in games like Below and Ashen. What makes Brume fun is how it keeps the experience straightforward. There aren’t any gimmicks like branching quest chains or big boss fights here, and you’re not going to drown in lore. Instead, you have a sword, shield, and a world to explore. In that way, it takes more inspiration from the lighthearted exploration that inspired The Legend of Zelda.
Brume is a difficult game. The combat shifts between fighting somewhat easy enemies and intense one-on-one duels with random fighters. It’s straightforward to fight off ticks and slugs, as they give ample telegraphing whenever they attack. Holding up your shield or circle strafing usually does the trick. It gets more complicated when you find another adventurer enemy. Many of them are adept at blocking your attacks, and some have massive weapons like hard-hitting clubs that sweep wider than you’d expect. In the best cases, these fights can feel like a tricky bit of dodging and attacking. In the worst cases, you’ll sometimes get smacked with an overwhelmingly powerful attack.
“It’s supposed to be quite hard, so please don’t get angry,” a video message from the developer states.
That’s made much easier thanks to Brume’s art style, a low-detail world full of hazy greens and bright beaches. The main drive in Brume is simply to move forward and see more of its wonderful sights. Even if you fail, there’s an impulse to press on and retry. Brume isn’t about finding items or beating difficult enemies to level up, although you can do that. It’s about the joy of exploration for its own sake.