I Found Two Indie Games Inspired by "Sleeping Beauty!"

While trying to distract myself from my addiction to Dress up! Time Princess, I was encouraged to browse through the Steam catalog for other princess-related games I might enjoy. Sadly, there is no "princess" tag on Steam, and searching for such a thing can yield some questionable content. I decided to skip past the mainstream generic anime and Disney Princess games at the top and found some surprisingly unique indie games. Both of the ones I decided to buy happened to be inspired by the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty." However, the games themselves could not have been more different. One is a visual novel called Once Upon an Electric Dream that tells a sci-fi reimagining of "Sleeping Beauty" in space (you read that right), and the other is a point and click adventure game called Little Briar Rose that allows you to play as the prince(s) from the fairy tale. More on that later.

Stained glass imagery of a fairy and a hero holding up a sword from Little Briar Rose

The first thing that caught my eye about Little Briar Rose was the art style. The entire game is made to look like animated stained glass paintings in everything from the backgrounds to the character designs. Like many princess fans, I fell in love with the art of stained glass after watching Disney's 1991 interpretation of Beauty and the Beast. I was intrigued by the concept of an entire game looking like that but wasn't sure how well it would work with full animation. Since the game only has still backgrounds and a handful of locations, the art style works just fine. If it had been just a bit longer or contained more animation, I think the developers would have needed to come up with an alternative method of portraying its characters and backgrounds. That said, I was more than satisfied to find a mermaid cove and a faery garden included among the small number of locations in the game.

Another thing that stands out about Little Briar Rose is the number of playable hero characters. You play as a prince who must perform various favors for the inhabitants of the fairy tale realm, many of whom are quite picky. Instead of getting a "Game Over" screen every time he fails a quest, the prince is transformed into one of the creatures of the realm and replaced with a new prince. I went through a handful of princes in my game and was amused to find that the second prince comes straight out of Disney's 1959 adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. What is even more amusing is that not all of the princes are capable of giving true love's kiss to the cursed princess, which forces you to remember where each prince who failed in the past ended up. This game can be completed within a few hours and is fairly simple in terms of actual gameplay. It was a hidden gem among the more generic-looking games on Steam that I was pleased to have discovered.

Princess ROsella, a black woman in a red dress stands next to the logo for Once Upon an Electric Dream

The other game that caught my eye was Once Upon an Electric Dream, which is a visual novel that features Sleeping Beauty in space. The concept sounded so wild and creative that I just had to check it out. This game is about as indie as they come with roughly five names listed on the credits screen. It had a great story, fantastic acting, and decent artwork. Another thing that made it unique was its black princess protagonist, something we don't see often enough these days. The game begins with Princess Rosavel waking up from hypersleep with a fuzzy memory. Depending on which choices you make for her, she could wind up with one of two potential love interests and learn some shocking secrets about her past. For a visual novel, this game is insanely short. The quickest ending can be achieved within five minutes, and the longest takes about 15-20 minutes. I unlocked every possible outcome for the story within an hour and a half. I know it had a small crew, but most visual novels take at least a few days to unlock every outcome, even if they are short. That said, the game was cheap enough for what it was, and I was impressed with the story and acting. I hope they get a larger budget in the future so they can make an extended version of it someday.

Sometimes, the best things in life are hidden in plain sight. I never expected to find either of these games when I scrolled through the mediocre Disney Princess and anime titles in the Steam library. By sheer coincidence, both of them were based on the same fairy tale, with two completely different creative interpretations offering different styles of artwork and gameplay. I enjoyed Little Briar Rose for the imagery and humor and Once Upon an Elective Dream for the writing and characters. If you plan to buy either of these games, keep in mind that they are extremely short and will only keep you entertained for a single afternoon. However, I would recommend either one for the low price and the chance to support creative people who actually care about entertaining people and not just making a profit.


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