Sunday, May 26, 2024

Made Marion Provides A Lovely Otome Twist To Robin Hood

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if Maid Marion didn’t like Robin Hood? We’ll we’ve got the game for you! Or, at least its demo, one previewed by Seher already. Made Marion, an indie game made by Velvet Cupcake Games provides an interesting, romantic twist to the legendary mythos of Robin Hood.

The player is cast as the classic love interest and damsel, Maid Marion herself

The demo itself begins after the prologue chapter of the full game, tossing us right into the first major choice of the game. Marion spent the last few years before the game running her family’s lands while her father was away, even learning to use a sword to help protect her people. But her father has returned, with a new wife, and reveals to Marion that she has been promised in marriage to Lord Geoffrey, the infamous Sheriff of Nottingham, entirely against her own will. As such, she’s given two options, to either accept the marriage or to flee in the night.

These two options give access to the two locations Made Marion takes place in, Sherwood Forest and Nottingham itself. Though somewhat amusingly, choosing to flee the marriage is the route that gets you stuck in Nottingham, while choosing to stick with it is what gets you in Sherwood Forest.

The result is that if you want to romance Robin Hood…you need to decide to marry the Sheriff of Nottingham. If you want to romance the Sheriff you’ve got to decide to not marry him. It’s a bit backwards, but since the game makes the results of each clear before you make the choice it’s not confusing.

Between the two paths there are eight romantic options to choose from. Four in Sherwood…

the four love interests in Sherwood Forest, from left to right are a dark skinned Black man, a white man, a darker skinned man, and a white man (druid) a Black man
From Left To Right John, Robin, Will, and Tuck

and four in Nottingham.

nottingham love interests, blonde white man, redhead white woman, purple haired nonbinary person, and white man with black hair
From Left to Right, Gui, Alanna, Meissa, and Lord Geoffrey

Of the eight love interests, six are men, one is a woman, and one is non-binary (Meissa). The latter two are both only in the Nottingham route which, I must confess, is something of a bummer. As someone who isn’t attracted to people who identify as male I confess this somewhat negatively impacted my enjoyment of the Sherwood route. That being said, the art and the writing are consistently good, so I didn’t dislike the Sherwood route. The game’s version of Little John was especially good.

Both routes of the game come with their own tone, which is interesting and helps to make them stand out more. Nottingham opens with Marion fleeing from the inn where she’s staying before meeting Geoffrey, receiving aid from Meissa and helping them in return when stuck at the wall of the city. From there it is revealed that Meissa is a sage, who has seen that Marion will be instrumental in protecting Nottingham from a dark fate, and they give her a magical disguise to help her along.

While visiting the market in this disguise, Marion winds up earning Geoffrey’s attention (and perhaps respect) when disabling an assassin she thought was a mugger with a frying pan. After meeting an interesting lady thief and a mysterious knight (Alanna and Gui respectively), Marion is given the choice to stay with Meissa and act as a knight, or take a job running Geoffrey’s household and work as a spy.

In contrast, the Sherwood route involves Marion being captured by Robin Hood and the Merry Men on her way to marry Geoffrey. She makes multiple attempts to escape or fight them, every one failing. Eventually she’s taken to their hidden camp, where she learns about the bloody history of the Nottingham region, Geoffrey’s villainous reputation, and that this was not a kidnapping but a rescue operation…just a poorly thought out one being pulled off by a bunch of men who didn’t stop to think how it’d make Marion react.

The Sherwood route of the demo can end with Marion demanding to be returned to her father, or deciding to join the Merry Men, the latter further ending with her challenging Will to a sword fight to prove her worth.

sherwood forest turning into night time
Sherwood Forest turning to night.

Neither is bad, to be clear. Marion is treated well by the narrative in both routes. But playing them right after each other does make the differences rather stark. Of course, this does also present a decent amount of replay value, promising more differences between each route then just the bare minimum events sparked by the different romance options.

Enough about plot though, let’s talk about the main draw of every otome game, the hot people you’re trying to romance! Each love interest in Made Marion is a distinct and interesting individual, and even from the brief demo it’s clear that there’s more to them, that they’re not just tropes and archetypes. Even Geoffrey, one of the classic villains of the mythos, obviously has more going on than just what’s immediately apparent from looking at him. That’s true of everyone.

For some characters it might be more quickly obvious what drives them and why they are the way they are (Robin Hood himself is fairly archetypical, for example, though he clearly has depth), but none of them are cardboard cutouts.

The diversity of the cast is likewise laudable. Made Marion is set in a medieval Europe equivalent (alternate universe, based on some of the world building) with multiple characters of color. John and Will are half-brothers in this, and in addition Meissa is non-binary and Geoffrey is written as having a visible limp. Given the tendency for otome games to be rather bland and homogenous when it comes to their cast, this is a very nice break from the usual.

To further break from the norm with these style of games, Made Marion is full to burst with lore and world building. So much so that occasionally words and phrases will be highlighted in red, available for you to click on them to open a small box that gives a brief description of the highlighted word or phrase. Some will describe what a thing is, others will relate to the background of the world as a whole, explaining local and world events or nations. There’s also a glossary available if you click the right mouse button while in game which is just…damn impressive.

Ultimately, damn impressive is the best way I have to describe Made Marion. The sheer amount of effort, creativity, and talent that went into this game is remarkable. All in all, while I do wish that there were more female love interests, it’s an objectively excellent game, one well worth your time if you’re interested in otome games, Robin Hood, or medieval fantasy stories. If you are interested in those things, a demo is still available, so go ahead and grab it, and give it a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

Images Courtesy Of Velvet Cupcake Games

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