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Look, I Get It: Elden Ring Is Cool, But It’s Long As Hell. Play Brume Instead

You seem like a busy person. Everyone is these days, with so many more nuanced and weird things to keep track of just to be alive in modern society. It’s even worse if you’re a gamer that wants to be plugged into whatever the hot new game is. 

Getting acquainted with modern triple A titles means spending your time with a 40+ hour game like last year’s mega-hit Elden Ring. It’s incredible, sure, but who has time for that? Well, if you like your combat Souls-like, your swamps poisonous, and your stories difficult and obscure, you don’t need a major time investment to play Brume.

Brume was developed by Netherlands gaming collective Sokpop. The developer prides itself on making smaller games (of which they have many, like Stacklands), and Brume was made early in the company’s life back in January of 2019. While bigger, flashier indie Souls-likes cover the market, a simple experience like Brume is more than worth the price of admission to dive into the mists and hack away at shadow men for an afternoon.

What little story of Brume’s begins with your explorer, a robed figure who rides their boat onto a fog-covered island. From here you set out to discover what secrets the land holds and face the creatures inhabiting the island. These creatures range from slugs and ticks to a stew-making elf and a cauldron-stirring witch. If you’re looking to get lost in a George R.R. Martin-inspired tale, look elsewhere. But, the island itself has enough compelling and enigmatic energy to get you interested in what’s at the end of it.

To traverse these dangerous lands you’ll need weapons. Starting with just a stick, you’ll eventually get access to a handful of melee weapons that gain experience over time, increasing their damage. You also gain a shield for blocking and a worryingly-red necklace that can absorb enemy blood to restore health.

The Souls-like gameplay of Brume is as Souls-like as you can get. You can charge your base attack for more power, or block and dodge incoming hits, at the expense of a stamina bar. Resting takes place at a number of campfire-like spots, and refills your health while respawning surrounding enemies. It’s not breaking new ground, but harvesting greatness from previously used soil. And yes, there’s definitely a swamp to venture through.

Aesthetically it feels as if you’re watching the action through a Game Boy screen (more specifically a Super Game Boy if you recall the SNES add-on). It adds to the whole minimalist package, which includes the lack of music and minimal sound effects. It evokes the feeling of finding a game you shouldn’t be playing on a parent’s old computer.

As you can assume, there are secrets about the game ready to uncover, but it’s best to discover them on your own. If anything previously said sounds interesting, Brume is worth the meager investment to try out.

You should play Brume if:

  • You want something small. Brume isn’t meant to be a buffet you can come back to repeatedly to top off your plate. It’s a single, filling meal made by one of  the best indie companies to make bite-sized titles like this.
  • You need another Souls-like in your Souls-life. Being familiar with the genre’s conventions will help you understand where to go and what to do, and how little hand-holding you’ll get along the way.
  • You’re a fan of old-school adventure games. Not only does the game look retro, it feels like it could’ve been running on an old Mac and talked about in hushed tones by only the most in-the-know of gaming nerds in the 90s.

You should stay away from Brume if:

  • You are not a fan of Dark Souls. It seems easy to say, but if you’ve played a From Software game and took one look at the Asylum Demon or Tree Sentinel and immediately stopped playing, what Brume does will not interest you. It’s a black licorice game: either you’re born loving the flavor or you’ll hate it completely.

Don’t take my word for it, though, check out Brume on Steam or