A faint engraving of a woman with long hair trapped in a tower...
|—Rapunzel engraving, Ballad of Rapunzel|
Ballad of Rapunzel is the seventh installment in the Dark Parables franchise. The game takes place on Mount Sněžka in Czechoslovakia. As the Fairytale Detective, we must investigate reports of deadly pollen spreading across the land in waves.
This game is based on the German fairy tale Rapunzel.
Welcome to Mount Sněžka, Detective. Yesterday, a strain of toxic pollen was detected in the town at the mountain's base. We have been tracking this mysterious pollen around the world, and evidence has the origin located among the ruins of the ancient Floralia Kingdom on this mountain. A strange, hypnotic song is the only warning before the pollen descends. Those who come in contact with it fall deathly ill. Your mission is to uncover the mystery of this toxic pollen's source and stop it from spreading further. We believe that Rapunzel, the fabled Princess of Floralia, still lurks in the abandoned tower. Seek out Rapunzel, as she may prove crucial to this case. Good luck, Detective!
WARNING: This section contains massive spoilers!
The game opens on the infamous tower from the classic tales of Rapunzel. The camera zooms up the tower, coming to the top and focusing on what can only be the eponymous maiden from the tales: Rapunzel. However, there is something off about her, something vacant in her eyes. A dark female figure, shorter than Rapunzel herself, appears behind her and urges Rapunzel to sing for her with a wave of her hand. Rapunzel's eyes take on an otherworldly glow and she does so. As the Princess sings, dark and ominous looking flowers below begin to bloom and release glowing pollen.
We're dispatched to the scene and given a briefing (see above). As is becoming a habit, our horse gets alarmed by the pollen in the air around Floralia and runs off, leaving us horseless once again. (How many horses must we go through?) Our investigation begins.
Upon our arrival, we find a young man entrapped in vines coming from the Floralia gates. After we rescue him, he tells us his name is Kai and he's a botanist studying the plant life in the area. He gives us an herb that will protect us from the pollen for a short time. He reminds us of someone from the Snowfall Kingdom, but we think nothing of it and continue on with the investigation.
We enter the kingdom of Floralia and begin our investigation. We get fleeting glimpses of Rapunzel and hear her singing, but she and her companion are always one step ahead. Just as we're about to gain access to the tower where Rapunzel and the young girl are hiding out, a giant Plant Golem appears on the tower and the ground falls out from under our feet.
We fall to a soft bed of mushrooms on the forest floor below. We're surrounded by writhing vines, but a shadowy figure arrives and incinerates them. We follow the man to a temple, where he holds us at sword point and demands to know who we are and why we're following him. He's stopped from harming us by a young girl, who turns out to be Gerda from the Snowfall Kingdom. She's here to help the man, Prince Ross, find Rapunzel.
While exploring the temple, we learn about the Guardians appointed by Goddess Flora, the patron Goddess of Floralia, and discover shrines to both Briar Rose and Princess Ivy. When we're done investigating these places, we've restored them to full bloom and learned much about the women the shrines honor. We also run into a few Plant Monsters and deal with them using the knowledge we've gained from Kai's left-behind notes.
Gerda finds a trap door in the ceiling of a nearby cave, where we can access the tower Rapunzel is in. Using a Magic Bean, we grow a beanstalk and climb up into the tower. Gerda goes first, and by the time we get up there, she's been abducted by a Plant Monster. We give chase, but by the time we catch up, Gerda's been locked in a cage on the roof. Ross has arrived and is angry with us, and there's a giant, creepy flower with a heartbeat taking up way too much space.
We take care of the creepy flower and free Gerda, only to have Rapunzel and the young girl appear. We now know this girl is Belladonna, Rapunzel's younger half-sister. She summons the Plant Golem, forcing us to jump from the tower with Ross in order to escape.
We land in a valley of ice and fire, where we find shrines to both Snow White and Ross Red, two more Guardians. We learn that the two are brother and sister, and have had some difficulties in their relationship. We bring Snow's shrine to a full blossom, but Ross's is already blooming. We find him there, healing from injuries.
Thankfully, he heals quickly enough to save us when a giant, watery plant monster surges out of the nearby canal and tries to kill us. We help him fight it off, but it grabs him and steals him away into the water. We use the canal to travel back to the entrance to Floralia, where our investigation began.
The ghost of the second Queen of Floralia, Queen Melanie, leads us to the throne room of the palace, where we find the remains of King Crisanto and unveil a secret lever that will help us open a portal to the tower. She explains to us that everything is Mother Gothel's doing and, wracked with anger and guilt, she disappears with an anguished wail.
Elsewhere in the palace, we find a temple for Goddess Flora, as well as shrines to Rapunzel and the Guardian of the Nightbloom flower. Rapunzel's shrine is already in full bloom, likely because she's nearby, as Ross was. However, the Nightbloom shrine is beyond help. The statue is destroyed, and the place is in ruins.
We fall prey to a trap made with a doll that looks like Gerda, and are about to be taken out by a Plant Monster when Snow White appears and saves us. She's come to help her brother, Ross, as well as Gerda. She gives us advice on how to save Rapunzel, then gives us a crystal containing some of her power.
In the library, we're saved from a plant monster once again by Prince Ross. He tells us his own method for saving Rapunzel, gives us an orb with his own power, then charges off for the tower. Before we leave the library, we're visited by the spirit of Mother Gothel, herself, who crows about her evil deeds and then claims to not be entirely heartless as she, too, tells us how to save the day.
We open the portal to the tower, but the plant golem instantly appears and blocks it. Using the power given to us by Snow and Ross, we form an arrow capable of killing anything and use it to destroy the plant golem. We travel through the portal and find Belladonna and Rapunzel on the tower roof, behind an electric barrier, preparing to make the giant deadly flower bloom, spreading its pollen far and wide.
In looking for a way to stop them, we discover Gerda trapped in a casket and free her. She gives us what we need to lower the electric barrier blocking us from Belladonna and Rapunzel. Once we lower it, we confront Belladonna. When we do, Ross arrives and holds the girl back, urging us to act now.
WARNING: This section contains massive spoilers!
This game has three different outcomes, depending on which of the Three Artifacts you choose:
The Mirror of Inversion
"A mirror that will strengthen one Guardian's power while weakening its counterpart."
This is the path suggested by Snow White in the ruins of Belladonna's shrine. She tells us that magnifying Rapunzel's powers will allow her to overcome Belladonna and the girl's control over her. The Detective considers this plan of action at the end and ponders, "If I enhanced Rapunzel's power, what would become of her and Belladonna?"
Using the mirror on Rapunzel causes her powers to grow stronger. The enchanted crown of flowers on her head breaks apart, freeing her from Belladonna's control. However, Belladonna is growing weaker and frightened. She cries out for Rapunzel to help her, but when Rapunzel tries to go to her side, Belladonna screams in agony. Rapunzel's intensified power of life is like kryptonite to Belladonna, the Guardian who wields the power of death, in her weakened state. Scared and in pain, Belladonna backs away from Rapunzel and goes right off the edge of the tower, presumably to her death. Rapunzel is free now, but at a great price. She mourns the loss of her sister and Ross tells us he will take care of her.
This ending awards the player with the "Bittersweet Victory" Achievement.
The Jewel of Repose
"A jewel that will seal a Guardian and their power."
This is the path suggested by Mother Gothel's spirit in her secret laboratory. She tells us that the only way to stop the flowers is to seal Belladonna and her powers. The Detective considers this plan of action at the end and ponders, "If I seal Belladonna, the Nightbloom's Guardian, the flowers would disappear..."
The Detective throws the jewel at Belladonna, who is instantly wrapped in vines. She cries out as her powers are diminishing, terrified and crying out for Rapunzel. As Belladonna's powers disappear, Ross burns away the flowered crown from Rapunzel's head, freeing her from Belladonna's control. Rapunzel is overjoyed to see Ross, but then sees what's happening to her sister. She apologizes to Ross, saying she can't leave her sister, then goes to Belladonna. Even knowing what will happen to her, Rapunzel stays at her sister's side and willingly gets sealed alongside her. The two become encased in a tree together, a tree of life and death, with Ross swearing to watch over them in their slumber.
This ending awards the player with the "Lone Survivor" Achievement.
The Shattering Sword
"Has the power to sever any plant and seal off all chances of regeneration."
This is the path suggested by Ross in the library. He tells us there is something in the tower that will save Rapunzel, but doesn't go into much more detail. However, Ross' personality and his frequent use of swords indicate that this is likely the solution he was speaking of. The Detective considers this plan of action at the end and ponders, "Could destroying the flower at its roots be the best way to resolve things?" This option is only available after collecting all 20 Flowerstones and exchanging them for the Glenys Jewel, which is used to activate the sword.
The Detective uses the sword to chop down the giant Nightbloom flower while Ross is holding Belladonna back. Ross tries to reason with Rapunzel, but he's scratched by Belladonna's deadly nails. Before falling to the ground, he burns away the flowered crown keeping Rapunzel under Belladonna's control. Rapunzel returns to herself and cries out to Ross. She starts crying, lamenting the years she's spent watching people die without being able to help them, and now she's losing Ross, too. She confronts Belladonna about what she's done, and the girl admits she was only afraid of being alone. Rapunzel tells her she loves her, and promises that she will always be with her. Ross begins to awaken, having been revived by one of Rapunzel's tears falling on him. The rest of the flowers are dealt with, and Ross and Rapunzel thank the Detective for her hard work. They say Ross will recover from the poison with Rapunzel's help, and the two of them will bring Belladonna somewhere safe until she can learn to control her powers. Even the pouting Belladonna thanks the Detective... albeit reluctantly.
This ending awards the player with the "Happily Ever After" Achievement.Important Note: The Shattering Sword ending is considered the "true" ending of the game, as implied multiple times in later games and by Blue Tea Games in a blog post.
There once lived a Queen of a mountain kingdom, the beautiful Violante. She was much-beloved by her people, but fragile and of ill-health. One day, she discovered she was pregnant. Anxious for the baby's health, Violante would consume a medicinal potion every day. The baby arrived safely, a girl with beautiful golden hair. But weak from childbirth, Violante soon passed away. The Kingdom mourned for the loss of their Queen. Moved by their grief, and seeing trouble brewing within their midst, their patron Goddess blessed the small Princess with a gift. Within the Princess would be the power of restoration, enhanced as her hair grew ever longer. And this healing touch could be bestowed upon others with little more than a song. The Princess grew to be the very image of her mother, a lovely, kind-hearted girl. With the Goddess' blessing, the Princess was named Rapunzel.
The Goddess Flora
There was a time, long long ago, when Gods resided among the masses, spreading their will through the people. One such Goddess was the deity of flowers: Flora. She stood for neither good nor evil, but in the balance of nature and the way of the fates. The legends of old would tell of Flora showing favor to certain individuals. Chosen by virtue of character, they were the Guardians of Flora. For each Guardian chosen, there would be another of opposing nature to balance them. The Guardians were given special powers along with immortality, allowing them to better uphold Flora's legacy. But the gifts were not always a boon. Once chosen, a Guardian could only follow the Goddess' will and face eternal life hoping one day, to be able to find the wisdom in her decision.
The Sisters of Dark and Light
Once, there was a widowed King. Though he had a daughter, the King was lonely and took for himself another wife. Queen Melanie was a somber woman, yearning to win over the hearts of the people. The Queen's only trusted friend was a servant, Mother Gothel. When she became pregnant, Mother Gothel gave her a potion that, unbeknownst to Melanie, was made from a cursed dark flower. When Melanie's daughter, Belladonna, was born, she carried within her the wicked power of that flower. And those who Belladonna touched would fall deathly ill and perish. Belladonna was locked away in a tower and Melanie realized she had been deceived by the cruel servant. Guilt and despair drove her to madness and she died a bitter, angry woman. Forsaken, Belladonna's only savior was her half-sister, Rapunzel, who had been blessed with powers that could counter hers and would come to no harm with their proximity. The nature of their powers drew the two sister together. Belladonna's world centered entirely around Rapunzel, and she in turn, devoted herself to the little sister who relied solely on her.
The Snow Princess and the Fire Prince
There once was a Queen of the Swiss Alps named Brunhilda, who was a faithful disciple of the Goddess Flora. Brunhilda had two twin children, both blessed with the spirit of Flora. Prince Ross Red, with his brash confidence, was made the Guardian of the Fiery Rosa. Princess Snow White, with her cool elegance, was made Guardian of the Frost Edelweiss. When the Queen passed away, the King married again. Their stepmother, jealous of Snow White’s beauty, bewitched the King and bade him execute the twins for a false offense. But a magic frog Snow White had befriended exposed the stepmother’s wickedness and saved them. The frog revealed himself to be an exiled Prince, needing a Princess’ kiss to break his curse. A grateful Snow White agreed to kiss him. The two soon fell in love and were to be wed, but Ross Red vehemently protested his sister’s marriage to a cursed man and the twins quarreled fiercely. In the end, Snow White married the Prince and Ross Red left the mountains to find his own path. Years passed, and any reconciliation seemed hopeless…
The Three Artifacts of Floralia
Long ago, two rival clans inhabited a piece of land together. Under the Goddess Flora’s patronage, one clan thrived while the young Chief of the weaker clan saw the end of his people draw near. He decided to implore the Goddess, overcoming harsh trials in his quest. Touched by his sincerity and determination, the Goddess gave the man three artifacts: a sword, a mirror, and a jewel. The Goddess told him to use the artifacts if he was determined to change destiny of his clan. But she warned him that the price would be steep for disrupting the fates. After a long, drawn-out battle, with the artifacts in hand, the Chief was victorious. But in the midst of it all, he had lost his family, his lover, and too many of his people. He now understood the Goddess’ warning. Though their destiny had changed, the cost had been paid was too dear. With a solemn heart, he joined the two clans together, crowning himself King. The King lived on to become a wise ruler. He sealed the artifacts, turning over their guardianship and history to his heir before he died. So goes the tale of the first King of Floralia.
Pop-Up Notes, Collections and Achievements Edit
Ballad of Rapunzel introduced a new method of storytelling - Pop-up Notes. These are items throughout the game world (usually books or plaques) that, when clicked on, contain a small snippet of a story, a diary entry, or some other background information.
This game also utilizes Collections. These are things players can attempt to collect throughout gameplay. One of these things is the Popup Notes mentioned above. Collecting all of them grants the player an Achievement (though this Achievement is glitched). Another collection in the game are the Flowerstones found throughout the game. Collecting all of these grants the player a special gem that opens up the final (and best) ending in the game.
Finally, there's also the addition of Achievements in this game. These are mostly awarded whenever the player completes a puzzle in the game without using a hint. There's also Achievements for collecting all of the Flowerstones, Popup Notes, Cursed Objects and finishing the game itself. For the last one, there are three different Achievements to receive, depending on which artifact you choose to use to end the game (see Ending section above).
- We lose our Horse again on our arrival on the case. This is starting to become a trend.
- Kai and Gerda, from Rise of the Snow Queen, reappear in this game and are all grown up.
- We learn that Briar Rose, Princess Ivy and Snow White are all Guardians of Goddess Flora.
- There are shrines to Briar Rose and Princess Ivy, containing more information about their stories.
- Statues and monuments to Prince James are found in Princess Ivy's shrine.
- Rapunzel uses a Magic Bean to visit her half-sister Belladonna in the tower.
- Ross Red is revealed to be Snow White's estranged fraternal twin brother.
- We find a shrine to Snow White, as well, which tells us more about her history.
- The Floralia palace contains several references to Pumpkin Carriages.
- Snow White appears in the game, saving us from an attack and assisting us in our case.
- The Three Artifacts of Floralia are kept in an underground aquarium room. A teaser clip at the end of the game takes us through this aquarium to a kingdom hidden in the depths of the water - a teaser for The Little Mermaid and the Purple Tide.
- Clicking on the turtle in the treasury results in the line "This reminds me of an Asian fairy tale, where a turtle took his savior to an underwater palace..." This is a reference to the Japanese story of Urashima Tarō.
- If one looks through the files of the game, you can discover an image of Fabled Legends: The Dark Piper's main menu background with added contrast and tinted purple. It is unknown why this image is in the game's files.
- This also happened when one looks through the Wallpapers Directory, there is an image of Reneé from Cursery: The Crooked Man & The Crooked Cat. One also noticed that the word "Collector's Edition" has been said twice. However, If you look into the game's Bonus Content > Wallpapers, the said image was not included.
- Several sound effects and images can be found from both Cursery: The Crooked Man and the Crooked Cat and Fabled Legends: The Dark Piper, Blue Tea Games' first app project. Some things from Cursery's bonus game are carried over in Ballad of Rapunzel's code, and this is why the locations in the bonus game are named after locations in Cursery.
- Both Ballad of Rapunzel and the spin-off game Cursery: The Crooked Man and the Crooked Cat use the same game engine. Though similar to the engine previously used by Blue Tea in all their former games, several specific fonts and gameplay formats (namely Achievements) can only be found in Cursery.
Blue Tea Games Owner: Steve Zhao
Production Managers: Gavin Wong, Snix Cheng
Game Designers: Steven Zhao, Vivian Cheung
Art Lead: Evelyn Tsang
Cutscene Team Lead: Snix Cheng
Artists: Teresa Tse, Gloria Lok, Sung Hoi Chow, Yin Kong, Suki Chan, Steven Kwok, Alejandro Dini, Fish, Wan, Wai Chan, Homer Cheung, Chiu Cheung, Karla Wong, Mandy Wong, Suyi Ma, Nam Ko, Sum Lee, Meow Lai
Game Engine Architect: Chan Ho Yuen
Programmers: Nick Mok, Andy Liang, Chan Ho Yuen
Puzzle Designer: Vivian Cheung
Animation Specialist: FCP
Cutscene Artists: Ricky Siu, Frankie Yip, Daniel Lee
Scripting: Mandy Lam
Audio Production: SomaTone Interactive Audio
Rapunzel / Belladonna / Gerda / Thumbelina / Fairies: Nicki Rapp
Ross Red / Parable Narrator: Eric Braa
Kai / Prince Gwyn / Fairies: Christian Nielson-Buckholdt
Snow White / Queen Melanie / Mother Gothel / Briefing Recorder: Molly Benson