Little Briar Rose grabbed me with its gorgeous artwork – stained glass-inspired graphics with vivid colours and cute character designs. It even has a few awards to its name, but Elf Games – located in Italy – doesn’t have much that I could find since, so I’m a little unsure if future projects are in the works. They do, however, have a couple other games available on itch.io.
Little Briar Rose has a simple premise – the player controls a prince who’s come to lift a curse on the land. The forest is overgrown with briars, and deep within lies the unreachable castle where a princess lies in a cursed sleep. In the forest, there are four villages of magical creatures, and you’ll find yourself helping the gnomes, spriggans, fairies, and mermen in order to bring calm and peace to the land. Each village houses very different personalities and challenges, and it will be up to you to play not only the hero, but also the matchmaker, mediator, and problem-solver.
The first thing you’ll notice about this little game is that it’s absolutely stunning. The stained glass aesthetic is beautiful, with vibrant colours. I love to look at artful games, and Little Briar Rose is absolutely no exception – it’s a beautiful little piece of art. Even better, each village is a bit different. Everything is lovely.
I found Little Briar Rose’s dialogue and characters quite charming. If you get puzzles wrong, you’ll find your prince cursed, and a new prince arriving to take up his quest. By the end I’d cycled through a few princes. The nice part is that you don’t really get a game over – you just keep trying. Each prince gets the previous prince’s items, and you pick up right where you left off. Unfortunately, it also tied into my least favorite part of the game – at the end you’re tasked with uncursing all the princes, and the animations and dialogues that go with it is just… really exhausting. It’s a fun detail until you’re forced to deal with it over and over again.
The puzzles are a little bit of an odd set. They’re varied, so you won’t find yourself doing the same thing over again, with the exception of the final puzzle for each level, which is just an increasingly difficult challenge to make a path between a ball and its final destination. Fetch quests and such do require some guessing and puzzle solving – for example, there are a few things you can’t succeed at until you find information. Many of the active puzzles, however, are little more than being able to tap the correct items. This made the game feel a little less active and involved at times, but it did also keep things from getting too exhausting or boring.
Overall, Little Briar Rose will take you about two hours to complete (maybe more or less depending on how the puzzles treat you), but it’s definitely a charming little game. You can pick it up for about $5, and while the replayability is low since the puzzles are easily remembered, it should be a fun time for the first playthrough!