No one disputes that "war is hell" but usually that axiom refers to the soldiers engaging in combat. But there are many more civilian victims of war as well, one of whom is the grandmother of indie developer Bob De Schutter of Lifelong Games, who recently released Brukel to share her harrowing tales of World War II.
Brukel is based on the youthful real life experiences of 92-year-old Bie Verlinden, shared here through the process of "gaminiscing," a term coined by De Schutter to describe an interactive combination of "oral history and gameplay." Bie's childhood home is now abandoned, but having recorded several hours of her stories last summer, you decide to return to "the Brukelhoeve" to snap some photos, even if you have to tresspass to do it. Equipped only with your camera phone, you proceed to "document artifacts from Bie’s past and hear her reminisce about her formative years in a family of tenant farmers and their story of survival as the World War II frontline moved to their back yard."
Presented in free-roaming, first-person 3D in a fashion similar to Gone Home, the game is designed to offer a "unique combination of education and horror." Expected to take about 90 minutes to complete, Brukel does contain some light puzzle-solving but is primarily akin to "experiencing an interactive feature film or documentary." Your task is to identify the relevant objects from Bie's past and take a picture of them using the digital zoom, exposure and focus range" features on your camera, prompting a recording of Bie relating a personal anecdote about each in her own Flemish dialect (with English subtitles). Authenticity "plays a large role in the game’s personal and immersive atmosphere," so be prepared for "the ghosts of Bie's past" to emerge as her wartime tales of hardship as a teenager "take a darker turn."
With its November 3rd launch date timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Belgium's liberation from German occupation, Brukel is available now for Windows PC on Steam, Game Jolt and itch.io. To learn more about the game, drop by the official website for additional information.