Brassica – A Marry Tales is a short visual novel in five acts created by Boys Laugh +, a duo of two queer folks from Germany who aim to make inclusive and LGBT+ themed games. Currently, only the first act and part of the second acts are available, but purchasing the game on itchio grants you access to all of them once they are out.
Here’s the official game summary:
An alternate summary could be: Local Lesbian Princess Bamboozles Three Neighbouring Princes Into Bonding With Each Other Through Hardship — You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!, for the mission the princess gives the three prince and their following misadventures appears to be a well-calculated plan.
Prince Saffron of Theotherkingdom
Brassica’s protagonist. A young, green prince who was tasked by his parents to go on a journey to meet Princess Sappho and marry her.
He was raised as a vegetarian and doesn’t like violence, and has little real-life skills. However, you could say he’s doing his best, and you get to help him a bit throughout his quest.
Prince Ode of Barah
A hot-blooded prince from the kingdom of
Bara Barah, Ode fell in love with Princess Sappho ever since he saw her in a ball during the previous winter and would be more than happy to marry her.
He can understand animals and thus is reluctant to hurt or kill them. His best friend is a dog named Friedrich.
Prince Hans of
Hans is a casanova who is used to short term relationships and sees his marriage with Princess Sappho as an end to his previously carefree lifestyle.
He can use magic, but his magic is not very strong, and using it temporarily deprives him of his senses. Despite his long and pointy ears, he is not an elf.
Princess Sappho of Radix
Her official name is Seraphina, but she prefers to be referred to as Sappho. In order to choose who will marry her, she sends them on a dangerous quest up the mountains to fetch her the Lilium Brassica, a magical flower.
If her name wasn’t eloquent enough, she’s actually in love with her retainer, Cithara.
Princess Sappho’s most loyal servant, Cithara is a serious and competent woman who is tasked with executing Princess Sappho’s plans and keeping watch of the princes.
She is also in love with Princess Sappho.
Writing and Characterization
Brassica reads like a lighthearted fairytale play. The game textbox is small, making the sentences and character dialogues relatively brief without adding too many frills to the story. Sometimes, the story narrator breaks the fourth wall addresses you directly, mostly between two acts.
Despite the brevity of the narration, and from the rather short ~1 hour of play the first act-and-a-half provides, I find the characters to be nicely fleshed out. Despite their bickering and being “rivals”, Hand and Ode try to listen to the little Saffron has to say, and while the three princes are fooled easily, they slowly try to cooperate in order to make it work and survive their dangerous journey. Far from being overshadowed by her wannabe fiancees, Princess Sappho’s dialogues and her overseeing their journey makes her as interesting, if perhaps not more than the prince.
I wish Saffron had more spontaneous lines though. Hopefully, he gets more fleshed out in the later acts.
I am quite fond of Brassica’s simple chara design, vibrant colors and lineless artstyle, which just fits well with its fairy tale setting.
The assumed “theatre” look, with curtains rising and falling between each acts, the map on the left and the date on the right to keep track of where the princes are, adds to Brassica’s creativity as much as it seems to limits it. There is no CG, and we can’t see the character closer than how their sprite appears inside the scene area. Perhaps making more varied character sprites and poses beyond the few variations in clothing and facial expressions could help. So far, only the scenery seems to really change from one scene to another, which provides a nice-looking, though not quite filling consolation.
Similarly, the game features no soundtrack nor sound at all besides some bird chirpings. While I can imagine Brassica was made with minimal budget, I believe finding some fitting music to go with the game’s mood would assist further in the story immersion. How about some public domain tunes? Heck, Vivaldi’s Printemps would fit Brassica perfectly!
A Few Hiccups
While Brassica doesn’t show any major bug, I’d like to point out a few hiccups that came up in my playthought:
- Weird things happen when skipping text: some characters sprites freeze when turning around, making them look like some flattened Paper Mario models. Hans especially seems victim of this.
- Loading a save you made at the end of an act takes me to the enforced save menu of said act, which is quite confusing and made me think the game didn’t want to load at first. When that happens, only clicking “Return” makes the game resume where you left off.
- Some are okay with the text blips, some find it infuriating. Turning down the game sound did nothing, the only solution is clicking “mute all” in the Preferences menu. Bug?
While they don’t prevent you from enjoying the story, I hope these will be fixed in later builds, as they could turn some less seasoned Renpy users away from Brassica, which would be a shame.
So far, my impressions of Brassica – A Marry Tale is that of a fairy tale with a few unexpected twists, complete with a colourful cast and vibrant graphics that, although far from perfect, proves to be a light but refreshing read. I do look forward to read the rest of the story and the three princes’ adventures, and have good hope Boys Laugh + will actually complete it.
I am a bit wary of episodic games, as there is no guarantee the creator will complete the story but Boys Laugh + made it far and only one purchase will be necessary to get the 5 acts, which get added with game updates rather as separate games.