I seem to have missed the release of this or something, likely due to the fact that I don't check my itch.io page as often as I should. It just sort of...appeared. Well, pleasant surprises are always nice!
Round the Mulberry Bush is set in the late 1700s and follows Matilda "Mattie" Addison, a young nobleborn lady, and Oliver, a stablehand who works for her family. They meet as children, and over the course of several years develop a friendship that eventually seems like it could blossom into something more, but it runs into the brick wall that is social class discrepancy.
The only characters we see are the aforementioned Mattie and Oliver. Mattie, while not at all intolerable, is pretty typical for a character of this type...spoiled, stubborn, and spirited as a child, she eventually ends up growing into a proper young lady, and because she's not the POV character we don't have the benefit of getting her thoughts and feelings about things. Far more interesting, though, is Oliver. He starts out seeming like he will be a perfectly normal underdog love interest, pining for the too-far-above heroine from afar...but as you continue the story, character development marches on.
The story takes place solely in the summers, and is divided into seven of them. Over time, you see Mattie grow from a wild child into the prim and perfect young lady her mother wants, while Oliver nurses his feelings for Mattie and mourns the loss of the little girl he remembers. That whole summary, coupled with the game's official description deeming Oliver and Mattie's romance "impossible" and mentioning that your role is to watch their relationship fall aaprt, doesn't seem to bode very well, but you might end up being surprised at how things go.
At this point I find myself coming up against my own brick wall, which is the spoiler-free policy I try to uphold for my game reviews. So I have to summarize my thoughts on the game's ending with this:
I'm a fan of it.
...I think I'm gonna need to make a separate post with spoilers so that I can talk about why. Click here for that post!
So anyway...Art is very nice. Music is the standard free stuff, but being a user of that myself I can't really knock it too much.
Anti-spoiler policies are hard, guys. Expect that spoiler post pretty soon.
I can try to sell you on the characters and their development; I can tell you how great the story is. But in the end, I feel like this is the kind of game you just have to play. It's only 15,000 words and is completely free, so...You should probably go play that. And then read the spoiler-y post that I've also posted discussing the ending. I hate feeling like I'm aborting my own thoughts, but...It all ends with a positive recommendation and at least I can feel good about that, right?
Round the Mulberry Bush is available for free download on itch.io.
Final verdict: Round the Mulberry Bush is one of those games with an ending I would be loathe to spoil, carried by an extremely interesting narrator.
Round the Mulberry Bush is developed by ebi-hime. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.