Brukel is a first-person exploration game developed and released digitally by Lifelong Games for the PC on November 3, 2019.
The game was designed by Bob De Schutter and takes place in a fictional version of the Brukel farmhouse, a Belgian farmhouse originating prior to the 1300s that was also the parental home of his grandmother Bie Verlinden. To develop the game, De Schutter interviewed his grandmother for over 5 hours as she reminisced about her life at the farmhouse. These stories provided the foundation for the game and most of its spoken audio.
De Schutter has referred to this method of game development as gaminiscing - or using the tools of video games to share authentic personal history - and hopes that Brukel will inspire other game designers to follow its blueprint.
Players enter the Brukel farmhouse playing as De Schutter, who is aiming to take pictures of a some of the objects in the house with his smartphone. Whenever an object that Verlinden has a story about is photographed, players can listen to it (similar to how audio logs function in games such as Gone Home or BioShock). The stories cover topics such as Belgian farm life in the 1920s as well as the background of the family. As players look for the objects on De Schutter's list (as well as several hidden ones), they explore the house and time progresses.
After midnight, however, a locked door in the house sways open and players are allowed to enter the stable area. At this point, the photography mechanic is abandoned temporarily as the game transforms into a psychedelic horror experience similar to games such as Layers of Fear or Silent Hill. Players now find themselves in a nightmarish version of the Brukel farmhouse where Verlinden's traumatic war stories are brought back to life and rooms change position.
The game features ghosts, in particular several German soldiers, an (invisible) English officer and a female figure that can be interpreted as either Verlinden's older sister Bertha or Verlinden's mother (although the game's credits refer to her as Bertha). They guide the player through the war stories as Verlinden narrates them. During these scenes, the player has to solve light puzzles to avoid death.
Brukel contains a number of easter eggs, some of which unlock achievements in the Steam version of the game.