BRUKEL Is A Tragic Real-Life Horror Story Told By Someone Who Lived Through It
I’ve made the argument for a long time that our definition of “horror” needs to expand. And before you think this is going to be a joke, no I don’t mean the way that some people say real Hell is sitting at the DMV. Not everything that goes bump in the night is supernatural (in fact, nothing that goes bump in the night is supernatural, since ghosts aren’t real). Every day, humans inflict violence on other humans in ways that would make Leatherface blush, and they don’t need masks to do it. We think that horror must always contain ghosts and ghoulies, when in reality most of the ghouls we encounter are other people, and the ghosts that truly haunt us are those of our past.
Then comes Brukel. A little indie game from Belgian designer Bob De Schutter, Brukel is far more than your standard spooky house simulator. The game is narrated by Bob’s 92-year old grandmother Bie, and tells the story of some particularly traumatic wartime events she lived through. Players will interact with the world using a smartphone, and as the story evolves past and present will mesh into one. To get a sense of how this looks in action, check out the trailer above.
Brukel isn’t the scariest game that you’ll ever play. There are some creepy dolls, but most of the horror comes from the human elements. Bie’s haunting narration (spoken in Flemish and translated in subtitles) gives Brukel a raw humanity, reminding you that this is far more than just a spooky story to give you some jumpscares. It’s poignant not because of AAA graphics, but because it’s a story that matters. No one saves the world or defeats evil. This is just something that happened, retold.
This is what a good indie game should be. So often we think that indie games need to do something spectacular to stand out. Reinvent an art style, or completely change what we expect from a genre. Brukel reminds us that a game can be memorable because it matters. It’s a story the creator cared about, and it shows. Long after Bie is gone, Brukel will still be here to tell her story. It’s a tragic story, all too common but rarely told. So often we focus on the heroes and villains, the “great men” of history. We forget the now silent voices, all the people cast aside the paths of history. Brukel might not tell everyone’s story, but it tells Bie’s story. And for that, it’s more valuable than any bankable franchise.
If you want to check it out yourself, you can find it here on Steam. At just $10, it’s well worth the asking price.