2017 has been so relentless in the release of top-tier games that it’s hard to justify spending time with stuff that is merely “good”. Why settle for anything less than “great”? Despite the incredible competition facing it, Butterfly Soup, a game about queer Asian women who play baseball, still shot right into my top five games of the year so far.
Developed by the creator of Pom Gets Wi-Fi, Butterfly Soup is a visual novel that follows a group of high school friends living in California. The gang stumbles upon and joins a newly-formed baseball club, which is suspiciously only composed of women. Hijinks ensue. I enjoyed it while on holiday last week, and didn’t feel guilty at all about briefly playing a video game instead of exploring the entirely new country I was visiting.
The thing that Butterfly Soup gets so right is the writing. It is hilarious. Not in a “type haha when you haven’t physically emoted for hours” funny but “fuck, I literally just spat on my computer” funny. I can’t look at screenshots of the game without giggling. More alarmingly, I find myself repeating lines from the game in that annoying way people do when they really like a thing. I have become an awful stereotype of fandom and I don’t give a shit. The game is fantastic. I’m albret einstong.
More than the humour, Butterfly Soup feels real. The characters are all people I knew and hung out with in high school, back in San Francisco. I identified a little bit with each of the characters, whether the game was exploring the suffocating ways gender norms push us into uncomfortable boxes or shining a light on the intense expectations that immigrants place on their first-generation children. Butterfly Soup didn’t just make me laugh, it made me feel understood, visible, seen. Somehow, the game manages to weave seamlessly between achingly heartfelt and shamelessly meme-y, which is to say, Butterfly Soup is a perfect reflection of internet culture.
Also, Butterfly Soup features what may be my favourite character of the year:
I love Akarsha because she is a garbage can and knows it.
My only complaint, if you could even call it that, is vague sadness that this didn’t exist back when I was still wrestling with my own sexuality as a teen. Alas. I’m so happy stuff like this exists now.
Butterfly Soup is available for download free on itchio, but you can buy a bonus art PDF to support the developer for $US5 ($6).