Pictured: Three women standing in a huge galley. Erica the Captain, Kotoha the otaku engineer, and Sara the only person reacting to this situation normally.
Title: Blossoms Bloom BrightestPlatform: Steam
Medium/Genre: Visual Novel/Sci Fi
Blossoms Bloom Brightest is a visual novel about three sapphics in space. They wake up from stasis, with two of the characters, the perky engineer Kotoha (basically an otaku who reminds me of a high school friend of mine) and the justifiably suspicious Sara (who is much more interesting imo, but comes with some serious baggage), as your potential love interests. You guide the actions of the captain, Erica, who mysteriously won’t tell her tiny crew what their mission is or why they’ve been chosen for it.
This is a cute, entertaining little game that takes about an hour to complete for one storyline. Thus, it’s pretty short, although considering the price, you could do worse. The concept behind the plotline is pretty standard sci fi and worth exploration. What the game lacks mostly is development; of plot, of characters, of romantic relationships, you get what you pay for. However, if you enjoy the game, Reine Works and Dharker Studios will be releasing a rebooted version with new artwork, another love interest, and longer gameplay September 15th under the title Galaxy Angels.
In gameplay, I consider the set-up of the game. As a visual novel, there’s often not much to do, but your choices should matter, and I would even go as far as to say that you should be able to connect intent to causality when it comes to making choices through the game. I get annoyed at games that force me to make one choice or the other, but they both more or less sound the same, and more or less have the same observable result, but in the game itself, if you choose option one, you end up with horror and darkness, and if you choose option two, it’s happily ever after. However, you have no way of knowing what impacts what.
This game suffers a little bit from that. It’s super easy to get Kotoha’s good ending, and mildly easy to get Sara’s good ending. But certain seemingly random differences might mean that you end up with Sara’s bad ending. It’s less about earnable points (since this isn’t set up so you can see them) and more about having chosen the right answer out of maybe ten decisions that you get to make. You have to really put some effort in to get Kotoha’s bad ending, but it’s really not even that bad. Not compared to Sara’s.
Also, because of the way this is set up, you are “guiding” the hero Erica, but not playing her. It’s set in the third person, and that’s a bit strange for the genre. It also leads to odd descriptions of what she’s doing and what she looks like. (This part, at least, I’ve heard will be fixed in the reboot: You’ll be playing Erica in first person POV.)
Finally, because the game is so short, there’s not much impact to be had, and no side quests or anything where you can actually impact the Sci Fi adventure. This is made more disappointing by what I refer to as The Pancakes Problem. These characters are in the galley having a meal more than they’re at their stations. If you’re writing something day to day, you might end up having more “going to bed” and “breakfast” scenes than you actually need. It would’ve been nice to have more development or world building and less Pancakes. Hopefully, the reboot will give us some more interesting things to do, in addition to another love interest.
I’m docking some points for the voice acting. Although some people have said that the voices help establish the characters, the fact that the voice acting doesn’t match the actual script is both annoying and distracting. The characters just say a stock phrase sometimes, as their character is saying something else. However, I’m returning a point just because you can turn the voice acting volume down to zero and opt out of them altogether. The music is one theme overlaid with different refrains to set the mood of each scene (tense, sexy, etc.). I’ve seen some complaints about the music, but I liked it, and I’m glad to hear the previews for it in Galaxy Angels.
Minimal background art. I found it serviceable to set the scene. The new background art for Galaxy Angels is practically photographic, however. It’s gorgeous. The characters though… I like them better in BBB. It’s in Anime style, but all three characters are distinguishable. They don’t really change clothes, other than to hang out in their underwear, but the drawing was on point and consistent with games that I would consider to be roughly on the same level. In the new game, the girls all kind of look the same, and they all have torpedo boobs. The new character must have triple Ds attached to her stick figure. This is a pity because I would never have picked up a game with characters drawn like that. My hope is that along with the pretty backgrounds, there’s more to the new character designs than boobs.
(I mean, I like boobs and everything, as a lesbian. And that’s sort of the problem. I like actual breasts, and sometimes the art for yuri or girl/girl games is really just depicting balloons on a string.)
Let’s call this a high C for effort. I prefer a slow burn romance, not insta-love. The “You Changed My Whole Life When I Met You Yesterday.” 1) No you didn’t, and 2) Rando and boring. We’ve all been kidnapped and put on a spaceship, let’s dig into what that really does to the charactes.
This makes a little sense with Kotoha, because she is so open and idolizes Erica right from the start. The only thing that really is an obstacle is Erica’s inexperience (and if you as the player are creeped out by how infantilized Kotoha is, despite being 19 years old). The plotline between Erica and Sara, however, almost demands a more drawn out lead up, since Sara understandably does not trust Erica at first and is angry about being abducted. This facet of the plot is really the most interesting to me… but because the events of the game take place in two weeks there isn’t a very strong shift between Sara as suspicious, to Sara as understanding the situation, and then depending how you play it, Sara as insane or completely in love with you. Despite the fact that she has a fiancé back home. (whoops)
Pictured: Sara gazes lovingly (deliriously?) into your eyes.
The writer has defended this decision with a blanket theory about trauma bringing people closer together, but that doesn’t necessarily happen instantly, while still involved in the trauma, and even if that’s actually why they all have the urge to pair off so quickly, this isn’t the healthiest way to build relationships.
Yoiks. I will say that SPOILERS:
If you go Kotoha’s route, you get a lot more backstory and explanation of things. They have a sweeter romance overall.
If you go Sara’s route, you get the complicated, getting over your differences and finding the right one romance that I like better anyway. The only thing holding it back is lack of development to justify these relationship markers that Erica and Sara come to so quickly.
That said, I kind of like the bad endings better. Eep. Even though Kotoha is hurt in hers, if you go that way, you’re basically still with her, but with Sara, too. Threesome! Sara’s bad ending? It’s awesomely dark and evil, and I’m not going to spoil it in case you want to play.
For free, give it a shot. It’s like a tiny lesbian choose your own adventure (well, Sara’s bi). We’ll see how the reboot handles the problems from the original.
This review was originally posted at Midnight Voss’s Blog and edited.