Little Briar Rose is an adventure game that based on the tale of Sleeping Beauty. The game follows the story of Prince Stephen I, or a variety of other princes, depending on your puzzle solving skills, as he journey’s to a cursed kingdom to save Princess Aurora.
This game was developed and published by Elf Games for a variety of platforms. For this review, I’ll be focusing on the Nintendo Switch version.
For those of you who don’t know, Little Briar Rose is another title for the classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. In the original story, a princess is cursed to sleep for 100 years by an evil fairy. The only way for the curse to be broken is for a handsome prince to kiss her. A good fairy also puts a spell on her kingdom, putting everyone else to sleep as well until the curse is able to be broken.
The game’s story follows the story of Sleeping Beauty/Little Briar Rose very closely. The king and queen have a daughter and invite most of the kingdom’s inhabitants to her baptism. They decided not to invite the wicked fairy… for obvious reasons. The wicked fairy arrives anyway, gift in hand. The gift she brings is a cursed spindle.
If the princess pricks herself on the spindle, she will drift off into a deep sleep. Of course, the princess does prick herself and is cursed. The good fairies of the kingdom do their best to break the curse, but they are unable to do so. As the girl slept, the kingdom falls under the curse as well. Briars then sprout up all throughout the kingdom. A kiss from her true love is the only way to break the curse and restore the kingdom.
Little Briar Rose is a point and click adventure at heart and it reminded me of games like King’s Quest given the character’s and how they interact with one another. The game follows Prince Stephen I as he quests to save the princess and lift the curse on her kingdom. You venture through various parts of the kingdom, restore order, and help the different creatures out with their troubles.
Typically, to help the creatures in the kingdom, you have to solve a series of puzzles/go on fetch quests. There is turmoil between the various groups of citizens as well as within their own groups. Solving the creature’s problems is crucial though as it leads to getting a macguffin that advances the plot. The macguffin in this case is a wish from the specific group of creatures (e.g. fairies or mermen). Once you collect 4 wishes, you open up the path to the castle.
All of the wish’s need to be deposited into the giant mushroom just located outside of the castle. Putting a wish in the mushroom lets you solve a rotating puzzle. You need to line up a path to allow the wish to make it to the center. Once you get the wish to the center, you unlock a new area.
There are several puzzles to solve throughout the game. Most revolve obtaining information from different characters in order to make decisions while other puzzles revolve around collecting items.
If you get the puzzle wrong you will lose your prince. The player’s prince will be transformed into a forest creature and then another prince will take his place. You pick up exactly where the previous prince failed. There are 8 different princes that I’ve seen. After the initial wave of prince’s fall victim to the curse, their descendants take their place. That is, all but Prince Stephen I. He doesn’t seem to get a replacement, at least, not that I saw. This is probably because the original prince is the chosen one.
To win the game, you have to get your Prince to Princess Aurora to give her a kiss. However, it won’t work if you have the wrong prince. Luckily, that doesn’t spell out Game Over for the player. The original fairy you meet tells you that if you can locate the transformed Prince and bring him to the fountain in the main square, you can change him back and lift the curse.
Bringing the prince to the fountain allows you to switch back to the original prince, or any prince you bring back. Kiss the Princess as Prince Stephen I and the curse is lifted. You’ll see a parade of Princes (depending on if you lost the original prince) with fair maidens and Prince Stephen I with the Princess. Then the story ends.
As I mentioned previously, the game can be played like a point and click adventure game or you can control the Prince via the joycon. The point and click aspects of the game come the Switch’s touchscreen. I honestly forgot the Switch had this capability, so thanks Little Briar Rose! What really drew me to this game was the graphics. Everything looks like stained glass and it’s really unique. It really sets the game apart from other games I’ve played.
The challenge is real with this game, but really only for a couple puzzles. The first puzzle is building a house per the gnome’s requests. It would be easy if the options you could choose from are easily recognizable from the gnome’s descriptions, but they aren’t. To put it bluntly, the very first puzzle requires trial and error and it’s very easy to lose a prince or two, or several, on this puzzle alone. In fact, this game loses a lot of points with me with how unforgiving some of the puzzles are (especially the very first puzzle).
There is another puzzle where you basically have to reenact the story of Cyrano de Bergerac. There is a Spriggan that likes the lead fairy dancer. He’s afraid that his appearance and lack of intellect/wit will hinder his chances at wooing the fairy dancer. It’s your job to play matchmaker and find all of the things he’s asking for in order to build his confidence. The problem with this, it’s unclear on which options to choose when all of the NPCs say things that contradict one another. I mean, it’s a puzzle so it shouldn’t necessarily spell things out for you, but don’t make it a guessing game. Especially when the player gets one chance before you lose your Prince.
That being said, there are hints that may help you solve some puzzles and challenges. The hints point out where you need to go/what to collect, but I want an experience where I can figure out what to do based on my own merits/intuition. I did have to use a hint or two to locate items hidden in the environment. You kind of have to click everything to find things. I never found myself needing the hints outside of the two puzzles mentioned above as the rest of the puzzles are much simpler. You just have to pay attention to the NPC’s dialogue and use a bit of intuition. The hints are unlocked by solving simple puzzles.
There are 5 main areas of the game that are connected via a “hub world.” The game has you travel back and forth between all of the main areas in order to solve puzzles. Everything in this game is mostly a fetch quest. Typically, the order of events goes like this:
NPC: I want THIS item.
Prince: Umm, okay. I can do that. Where do I find said item?
NPC: Go ask NPC2, he knows.
It starts off simple but then you’re running all over the place to collect items or information. Then it boils down to picking the right thing at the right time or its game over. Backtracking and fetch quests are never fun, but each of the areas is connected to a central hub world so backtracking is never a big deal. In a way, this actually helps the game’s pacing.
The gameplay is meh. I mean, it’s a point and click game so there isn’t much here to begin with, but the mini-games fall on the boring side of things. The fishing game kept me occupied for a bit, but got old quick. The house building segment was a nightmare, I had no idea what any of gnomes were really asking for and how it related back the design. There was a mini-game where I had to tap on angry/lethargic thought bubbles to keep fairies motivated, and a mini-game where we had to cook something with bad instructions.
The game features a list of in-game achievements. A lot of the achievements are related to the story and how you play (not dying, collecting every item, etc.). There are some achievements with some familiar sayings as well such as “Your princess is in another castle” and “Hey! Listen!” I always appreciate a good reference.
I don’t normally mention the price, but I’ve noticed some discrepancies between the prices on various markets. The price ($5.99) on the Switch seems a little steep for the amount of gameplay. The game costs $4.99 on Steam and $2.47 on Mobile. Assuming the game is the same as the mobile version, you would pay more than twice what it would cost to play it on Mobile. The game has a little replayability due to the in-game achievements, but I would shop around if you’re looking for a deal.
The art style looks amazing. I really like the stain glass look the developers came up with for this game. It really makes it stand out. Story-wise and gameplay-wise, the game feels like it may have been intended for younger players. Everything just boils down to scrolling through options and picking something to help NPCs and finding hidden objects. Ultimately, the puzzles/mini-games boil down to either click on the thing that appears on the screen or pick an option from a group of options.
Little Briar Rose isn’t going to wow anyone with its story. It’s a retelling of an old classic fairy tale set within a unique visual environment. It’s a short experience for the price tag but, like I’ve said for other games, it’s good for the casual gaming experience. You can turn off the game whenever you want and pick it up right where you left off. The game provides a unique visual style that is different from a lot of games on the market. The game also features simplistic mini-games and unforgiving puzzles. It’s also somewhat difficult to navigate the game without the use of clues.
I hate to discourage anyone from giving this game a try based on my criticism. If you’re looking towards purchasing this game then definitely give it a try. It’s just I wasn’t exactly blown away with what I experienced.