On May 29, 2017, Brianna Lei released the visual novel “Butterfly Soup” and is currently hosting it on her personal itch.io. However, this is not Lei’s first time dabbling into creating games.
Lei’s first game was “Pom Gets Wi-fi”, a “self-indulgent mess of a first game, starring an entire cast of dogs!”
Itch.io is an open website with a focus on independent video games. It’s a designated place where digital content creators can upload their work and set everything themselves, including the price, sales, and how their page for their work appears.
The premise of “Butterfly Soup,” at a base level, is a coming-of-age story about high school girls that play baseball and fall in love. However, the more accurate description is that it’s about LGBT+ Asian-American high school girls that fall in love with each other and play baseball. The game lasts around 3-4 hours total for a short, yet impactful ride.
Lei’s inspiration, as stated in her interview with the blog Tomorrowed, came from various sports anime as well as teen dramas. These settings are mundane and due to this, Lei wanted to pull people in with her characters as such a setting usually relies “on the sheer force of the characters’ personalities to make the ride entertaining.”
The creator also speaks on issues in terms of the gaming community in this interview. Her main consistent philosophy for her games is that they are catered specifically towards her.
As a minority group that might not be considered in other games – and unfortunately is the secondary demographic in many cases, Lei takes it upon herself to be the person that makes a game for what it is.
“Butterfly Soup” consists of four main characters. The central character that connects the whole cast is the baseball prodigy Diya, a 5’10” girl with anxiety. Her childhood best friend / current crush is Min-seo, a knife-wielding shortstack with a penchant for threatening people and being rather violent. Her rival is Noelle, another one of Diya’s childhood best friends who is stern and studious under harsh teachings from her parents. Finally, the cast is rounded off by the colorful Akarsha, the only bi girl of the quartet who enjoys pranks and getting on Noelle’s nerves while simultaneously using humor to fight off her own issues.
The game begins with Min-seo and Diya as children at a baseball game, lining up exposition for their relationship before it’s revealed to Diya that Min-seo will soon be moving away to the opposite side of the United States. The story picks back up in high school when a baseball club is announced and with it, a familiar face returns to her small town.
However, as lighthearted and fun as the game is, personal issues arise among the girls and is shown through treatment of them outside the group. The game warns for parental abuse of the emotional and physical variety (no visuals) as well as ableist slurs.
As a final note, Lei gives out words to live by: “remember, [if] an alligator attacks you, go for the eyes!”