Growing up brings its lot of emotional upheaval and troubles in the best of times. The Girl of Glass: A Summer’s Bird Tale is a charming yet tragic coming-of-age story. The game was developed by Markus with Friends and published by En Widunderlig Produktion. The Girl of Glass is a refreshing take on the point & click genre with a story told in a visual novel style mixed with turn-based combat scenes.
The game is set in a fictional mid 20th century European country, an alternate world of sorts. This country is ruled by a tyrant eagle and his armies. It would be hard not to do the connection between The Girl of Glass narrative and the darkest part of our history. You play as Kristal, a fragile girl of glass on the edge of womanhood. At the start of the game, Kristal is sitting in a train reminiscing about her past and all the people she has known at the circus. She is running from the eagle himself and is in fear for her life. We are then presented with a flashback which brings us back to Kristal’s time at the circus. Kristal is a lonely teenager living at the circus. She does whatever odd job the ringmaster needs her to do, mostly cleaning. She is disillusioned with her life and yearns to see the world. One day she meets a mysterious boy who asks her to run away with him. She is unsure, but an opportunity like that does not present itself everyday. The Girl of Glass is an adventure about the struggles and complexities of growing up and finding your place in a scary world.
The artwork of this game is beautiful. All the scenes are hand painted. The colors are soft and the artwork is whimsical. They remind me of reading a fairy tale book as a kid. The soundtrack is also very fanciful and together with the artwork gave me this same feeling of being in one of those fantasy books. The dialogues and Kristal’s internal monologues are all fully-voiced which adds to the professionalism of the game and brings it to a whole other level.
The novel concept is refreshing and very interesting. I was surprised by how well it all worked together. The Girl of Glass plays like a point & click with scenes where you can inspect different objects and pick up items. The dialogue’s scenes are more akin to a visual novel with different dialogue choices. Depending on your answers, the story will take a different turn. There are several different endings you can access depending on your choices. Woven within the story are also many fight scenes that are played in a turn-based format.
The combat scenes are puzzles in their own right. You can attack, block or focus (which lets you attack twice on your next turn) and an array of other skills that you acquire throughout the game. You have to predict what your opponent will do and counter it before he does it. You also have a limited amount of energy and so you have to be strategic when using it. Finally, you will sometimes be on your own in those fights, but more often than not you will have some allies. You will have to strategically position your characters with the stronger ones standing in front and the weaker ones in the safer and protected back positions. I found it to be an extremely interesting approach to turn-based combat. Each of those fights are also interspersed with dialogues, mostly quibbles. I like the idea of keeping the narrative going even during the fight scenes. The combat grows more complex as the game progresses and can get quite challenging in the latter part of the game. You will need to plan your strategy before each move.
The Girl of Glass is a clever and innovative concept accompanied by a touching story. Coming-of-age stories are a dime a dozen in literature, gaming and entertainment in general, but it was a wonderful surprise to see this developer expand on this narrative and come up with a new formula. While I love the more classic point & click style, it does not offer much replayability. This formula can be replayed several times due to having many endings. I am always happy to see any innovation in the genre and this hybrid point & click/turn based formula works amazingly well. I hope to see a lot more from Markus and Friends. If you love adventure games The Girl of Glass is a must play and is sure to keep you entertained.
Written by Vee