Kinetic Novel Review: Round the Mulberry Bush

2/23/2017

otometwist review round the mulberry bush

GAME INFO
Name: Round the Mulberry Bush
Developer: ebi-hime
Date: April 1, 2013
Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Here I am again, trying out a game that I know nothing about. I think I must have downloaded it along with a couple of others last month, but I really don’t remember. Oh well, let’s see how this goes, shall we?

STORY

It was the summer of 1789 when a young stableboy by the name of Oliver met a young girl snacking on a mulberry tree. She was Lady Matilda Addison, daughter of the master of the house. Being naïve young children who only had a vague idea of social constructs at the time, the two soon developed a secret friendship. They saw each other almost every day, spending their time together around the mulberry tree where they first met. Over the years, they started drifting away from each other, as life and other constraints started getting in the way. Eventually, the two friends have to face the truth: a servant and his master can have a relationship that is something more than that. But Oliver does not want to accept that, because the truth is, he love Mattie. His Mattie. And he’s willing to do anything to keep it that way.
otometwist review round the mulberry bush

WRITING

The story is around 14,500 words. I really loved the writing here. The prose read like a classic novel, which was truly wonderful. Considering that the story is set in the 1700’s, I think it was a very appropriate style of writing.

Although it’s presented in ADV format with the occasional NVL screens, the text itself feels more suited for a book than a visual novel. It felt like an actual novel that was just made into a visual novel without changing its format, to be honest. Not that it’s a bad thing, though it did bother me a bit.

Although there are only two, I find the characters greatly intriguing. The mulberry girl, Matilda, is a spoiled young girl who’s used to getting everything she wants in the blink of an eye. She actually feels like a stock character, or like someone straight out of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s works, but because of her hidden side, i.e. her love for the outdoors and ‘unladylike’ things, she’s a rather fascinating individual, alright.

otometwist review round the mulberry bush

Meanwhile, the MC, Oliver is Matilda’s stableboy, and he’s as confusing as can be. One moment, he adores Matilda and practically worships her; the next moment, he’s telling us all about his prior thoughts of killing her in all sorts of ways. I thought he was supposed to be in love with her, but that he was just suppressing it because even if Matilda returned his feelings, their relationship would certainly be a forbidden one and it would just cause uproar amongst their people.

But then again, I also didn’t know if love is the right term to call what he has for Matilda. He seemed oddly obsessive in my opinion, and for me, being obsessed is definitely not the same as being in love.

And… what do you know, the truth of the matter was a lot stranger – and more disturbing – than what I thought.

Anything I say from this point in the story on will be a spoiler, so I won’t say anything anymore. But be warned, if you plan on reading this, then at least be informed that it’s not just a happy coming-of-age story about two childhood friends who solidified their friendship despite it being forbidden. In fact, it’s not that at all.

Brace yourself for one heck of a ride, that’s all I can say.

ART

The art was wonderful. Though Matilda’s child sprites weren’t as nicely done as the adult version, nor the backgrounds. Yes, surprisingly, the backgrounds are probably the best art assets this game has. There are only three sprites and they’re all Matilda’s; unfortunately, they all look a bit out of focus, especially when the camera zooms in.

otometwist review round the mulberry bush

Speaking of the different Matilda sprites… she’s supposed to be 13 in the teenage version. Just… wow. It didn’t seem like she could go from the child version to the teenage version in just a a few years. The last sprite, the adult version, was supposed to be when she’s 15 or so, but it only made her look like she was in her late 20’s or something.

GUI

The custom GUI is absolutely gorgeous. It’s got a distinctively vintage feel to it, which feels both regal and antique. The simplistic in-game interface was also wonderful and fit with the 1700’s theme.

otometwist review round the mulberry bush

MUSIC

Oh, I loved the music the moment the visual novel first opened. The main-menu theme was super calming and relaxing, and it reminded me of oriental music that I used to hear a lot when I was a child.

The other tracks were also very good, although some were a little familiar to me, so I assume that they must’ve come from free sources.

The only gripe I have with the music is the noticeable looping for each of them. This means after a track ends, there’s about 2-3 seconds of obvious silence before it starts up again. That can be quite distracting, especially when you’re super immersed in a scene and the background music just disappears all of a sudden.

WRAP-UP

An unexpectedly dark story, it certainly makes for a gripping read. Coupled with the great selection as well as lovely art, Round the Mulberry Bush is a kinetic novel worth trying out.
otometwist review visual novel

Nine mulberries – whoops, sorry, I mean strawberries for this game. One strawberry was stomped on by Oliver because Mattie’s sprites looked out of focus.

You can download this game here for free.

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