2021 Indie Games Week 1: Butterfly Soup
I decided to play one short indie game each week this year and started with a replay of Butterfly Soup (shout out to my gameclub who is playing it with me!). Butterfly Soup by Brianna Lei — free on itch at https://brianna-lei.itch.io/butterfly-soup (give her money!!!) — is a true masterpiece. It evokes so much feeling while playing, feelings that are primarily positive, something rare in emotional storytelling in games. I wrote this minutes after finishing it, tearing up at the utter joy and love this game brings.
I first played Butterfly Soup in January of 2020, which feels like years ago after the catastrophe of 2020 that is still bleeding into this year. The past year has been one full of pain, depression, anger, anxiety, stress, sleepless nights, bad eating habits, broken social relationships, racist police, incompetent and bigoted politicians, COVID, and so much more. It was an awful year.
Butterfly Soup was a perfect game to start 2020 and it’s a perfect game to start 2021. It’s a perfect game to start every year. It’s a reminder that, regardless of what is happening around you, if you are true to yourself and love yourself and surround yourself with friends that you can survive and be happy. The game follows four friends in high school as they join a baseball team and grow closer. Totally different personalities, each character is phenomenally well written and will surely remind you of many people in your life. Also, an important note, is that Butterfly Soup is by far the funniest game I’ve ever played. Nothing I’ve played even remotely compares to the quality of comedic writing in this game. I’m now just going to talk about what I love about each character because ultimately, Butterfly Soup is a game about how amazing people are.
Noelle — Noelle is a girl struggling to have any life whatsoever outside of her parents control. She is forced to focus on academics and her social relationships are ridiculed by her parents for the time they take away from studying. Still, she devotes a lot of time to thinking and planning for her friends — whether it’s an elaborate prank on Akarsha or helping Min and Diya get together at the end. She’s unbelievably hilarious even though she’s seemingly the most by the book of the group. She’s very savvy and acutely aware of how dysfunctional her parents are. Her strong will under duress combined with her prickly love of her friends makes her just utterly endearing.
Akarsha — Akarsha is probably closest to my actual personality. She covers up depression and uncomfortableness by being the constant jokester of the group. She’s very aware of how arbitrary and often dysfunctional societal norms are and frequently works that knowledge into her feigned hurt or purposefully exaggerated platitudes. Every moment she’s in the game is a blessing, even the (few) sad ones. She’s a friend everyone should have, but more importantly, she has the supportive and loving friends that she deserves. Oh and I had “Albret Einstong” on a note on my desktop the entire year from when I last played it until now. I am obsessed with Albret Einstong.
Min — Min reminds me of a lot of friends I had when I was younger. She is clearly a caring and loving person, but she’s been so betrayed by society that she doesn’t know to react other than anger. She lashes out too often but that anger is always in defense of herself or her friends and you can’t help but be frustrated when she is told what she’s doing is wrong. The way to support someone like that is through love and friendship — something she gets out of the group and out of the baseball team. I wish every shitty teacher and parent and adult would just stop talking, let kids like Min be angry, and just listen.
Diya — Diya is an anxious girl whose inner narrative is a good reminder that quiet people are often the ones thinking the most. She’s the central figure in what the group does — whether it’s joining the baseball team or just bringing them all together as friends. She’s an incredibly sweet and kind person who is just wholly without judgment. While the rest of the characters tend to show their affection through making fun of each other, Diya never does that, and I think her kindness is hugely important in pushing her friends to be closer and more honest with each other. She’s a great friend, a great role model, and I’m just so happy for her at the end of the game.
Butterfly Soup is one of the best games out there. The writing is impeccable. If you haven’t played it, well, it’s free! I put a link at the top. It’s about three hours long. So please… get to it. Now that I’ve played it at the start of the year twice in a row I aim to make it an annual occurrence. Why would I not want to start the year off with four of the greatest characters in gaming?