I spent my morning trying and failing to climb out of the depths of a vast brutalist tower in Beton Brutal, a new first-person platformer. It’s a tough climb but a curiously cold vibe, perhaps because every time I fall all the way down I’m thrilled to be back surrounded by overgrown plants and sculptures rising from a pond. The developer says Beton Brutal “tries to replicate and build on the parkour mechanics seen in Minecraft”, and I think I have a lot to learn. I didn’t even know Minecraft had parkour.
Here I start, at 0 meters, surrounded by giant plants and standing in front of a nice brutalist sculpture/water feature. Having spent many weekends in my early thirties at the Barbican Centre, reading by the pond and strolling through the greenhouse, this is a comforting place to me. Then I look up and oh. GOOD. It’s quite high. Better get it up. So, you climb the abstract structure, scale sculptures, jump between pipes, jump on gantries, climb ladders, and generally try to find a way to the top.
Beton Brutal definitely gets challenging the higher you go and introduces some special surfaces which I guess are part of the inspiration for the Minecraft parkour maps. The punishment also increases, as you can fall completely if you are unlucky and land on something close. Although unlike cart gauntlet platforms such as AltF4 and Rage Quit, it doesn’t feel downright hostile and dickish. Not from what I’ve seen, anyway. It seems more in the vein of Getting Over It and rightly so I heard about Beton Brutal through Bennet Foddy stating “This set of rules.”
I checked out some speedrun videos, out of curiosity, and oh I have a lot to learn. The game is full of little shortcuts and nifty tricks to speed up your ascent. These are useful for speeding up familiar sections after a crash, and surely vital if you’re going into repetition to improve your best time (it has world and friends leaderboards). I tried to replicate one or two of the biggest jumps I’ve seen and no, I think I need to master the fundamentals and complete the main path before trying the fancy stuff.
I’ve done a lot of trick jumps, bunny hops, and grappling jumps in Quake and Half-Life games (unfortunately, I never understood Counter-Strike surfing), but Minecraft parkour is largely mine. unknown. Very interesting to discover something new. It also sent me down a rabbit hole looking at Minecraft’s parkour maps, which are way trickier and more complex than I had imagined.
I may never reach the top of Béton Brutal. And if I do, I almost certainly won’t go into the go-and-go phase to refine my runs and cut my times. All the same, I enjoy my time in this terrible tower. I’m a sucker for overbearing brutalism, true, but it just gives the place a nice feel. Even the occasional streak of dust and debris is nice. Nice soft music too. Until you look up or down too long and the vertigo system kicks in and things get a little scary. Brr.
Beton Brutal is available on Steam for £5.89 / €6.89 / $6.99. It is directed by Jan Malitschek. Oh, a word of advice: hit the command menu immediately, because the defaults have a spring on Ctrl and sneak on Shift, and that’s just not right.
Crumbling Concrete fans should also check out the recent Brutalist map pack for Quake. And for more giant abandoned structures, hit up Steam and grab the demo of Lorn’s Lure, a first-person explore-o-climber that’s one of our most anticipated games of 2023. Oh, and Babbdi is a great free little game that gives you all sorts of weird tools to explore a brutalist city (thanks reader Sam for the reminder!).
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