The evil druid weaves his spell, gathering razor-sharp leaves in a swirling vortex before hurling them at the young girl charging him with her sword. She dodges the hazardous foliage before striking him down with a jumping attack. She wheels, readying a bomb to throw at one of the other bandits before an unseen archer lands an arrow in her back. The world fades and she falls to the ground, dead…
“Grandpa! That’s not how the story ends!” a young boy and girl cry out in unison. “Oh, sorry.” the old man apologizes, “I got carried away. What really happened was…” This is a description of the first time I died while playing Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, but lively interjection wasn’t the only reason I was smiling for much of my time with the game.
Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is an isometric action adventure game developed by Castle Pixel and published by FDG Entertainment. It is an immensely charming game which feels like a cross between The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, with a twist of humorous narration, a la Bastion, thrown in for good measure.
Blossom Tales opens in a modern living room at night. Before young Lily and Chrys go to bed, they beg their grandfather to tell them a story, but they don’t want to hear a story about Hyrule, they want to hear something new. The old man relents, and begins to tell a story about a young girl, also named Lily. Unlike many other games that begin with narration, this is far from the last you will hear of the trio, whose heart-warming interactions and outbursts add color to every step of Blossom Tales.
Brave heroine, Lily, is off to an induction ceremony where she will become a member of the Knights of the Rose. The King, a kindhearted and benevolent ruler, and his brother, the court wizard Crocus, personally oversee the ceremony. After Lily and the other recruits leave to undertake their first trial as knights, Crocus casts a powerful sleeping spell on the King. Lily and the Knights of the Rose disperse to the far corners of the world to gather the three ingredients needed to awaken the King before Crocus takes over all of the Kingdom of Blossom.
The gameplay and content of Blossom Tales will be immediately familiar to those who have played the isometric Zelda games. Lily spends her time exploring, fighting monsters and bandits, solving puzzles, and conquering dungeons complete with traps and bosses. She will also, like our favorite elfin hero, find heart pieces to increase her health pool, and gain new items like boomerangs, bows, and even magical medallions as her journey progresses.
Dungeons and puzzles are cleverly designed, and the constant interaction of the narrator and his grandchildren is fantastic, adding a constant stream of comic relief that made Blossom Tales feel very welcoming and different from other action adventure offerings.
There are many small touches which show Castle Pixel, like Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games, knows when to stick to tradition, and when to deviate to make modern games like these an improvement over their inspiration.
While other games like Oceanhorn may similarly adopt Zelda’s style, Blossom Tales is the first Zelda-alike that made me forget about its inspiration. Hours into the game, I wasn’t thinking about how similar to Zelda it was, just how much fun I was having, and what a curious and wonderful world Castle Pixel had created.
If it wasn’t obvious already, I think Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is a fantastic game, and well worth every penny of the meager $14.99 it costs. If you enjoy top-down action-adventure games like the classic 16-bit era Zelda that inspired Blossom Tales, you absolutely must pick this game up. It is certainly the best Zelda-like game I have played, and one of the Switch’s best offerings. You can buy this charming game for yourself right now on the Nintendo eShop.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – FDG Entertainment
Developer – Castle Pixel
Price – $14.99
Genre – Action, Adventure, Role-Playing, Platformer
Size – 391MB