Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cinderella Phenomenon

Author: Dicesuki
Availability: Free, Download
Format: Visual Novel
Genre: Fantasy 
Rating: Teen

Found at OR Steam

My Scores (Out of 5):

Writing: 4.5
Art: 4.5
Gameplay: 4.5
Romance: 4 (“D'awww! A little bit tropey, but still very nice!”)


In Cinderella Phenomenon, you are Lucette/Insert-Name-Here, the cold-hearted crown princess of Angielle.  At least, you were the crown princess: it seems you've become the latest victim of the Fairy Tale Curse, which gives people curses based on well-known stories.  Your curse is based on Cinderella, only for you, it's reversed: you've gone from riches to rags, and you must complete three good deeds if you ever want to return to the palace.  Fortunately, you've found some new friends who are willing to help you, but it seems there's more going on than anyone wants to tell you...


The Writing

I am starting to love the twisted fairy-tale genre.  Cinderella Phenomenon handles the source materials very cleverly by having them be in-universe inspirations for the curses; this allows the authors a lot of creative freedom.  Still, while most of the twists were great, I felt that the interpretations given to Peter Pan's “Neverland” and “Tinkerbell” were too much of a stretch.

One major brownie point I must award to this game is that it doesn't assume anything about the player's familiarity with any of the stories.  Rather, our heroine was explicitly never allowed to read fairy-tales growing up, and so other characters are forced to give her a quick recap of the relevant tale.  This allows the unfamiliar to learn the important details without slowing the pace too much for players who already know the story.

The story itself is complex and intriguing with a lot of emotional gut-punches.  I found myself becoming worried about the characters whenever they were in peril, and that right there is the hallmark of good writing.  Be fore-warned, though, that this story will do its best to make you cry.

Still, I do have a few nit-picks: there are one or two occasions where characters are clearly carrying the Idiot Ball™.  There are also a few fairly subtle grammatical mistakes sprinkled here and there in the script: mixed tenses, a character saying “violence does not beget violence” when she clearly means the opposite (and it's not sarcasm, either; just a mis-handled quote), that sort of thing.  A spell-checker would not have picked up on any of it.  I bring it up because...well, because I'm a nit-picky grammar nazi, but also because it's jarring, and whenever the text calls attention to itself with these kind of mistakes, it takes readers like me out of the story.

The Art

Right out of the starting gate, this game gets the player pumped up with an EPIC intro sequence featuring a song called Broken Cinderella.  I must say, though, that while I like the music and the lyrics individually, they just don't seem to mesh together quite right: something about the cadence feels off.  Still, it's beautifully done, and everything from the menu to the sprites to the cgs to the background music is absolutely gorgeous!

I also like how the stained-glass windows in the menu change when you win each character's route.  And how the character sprites “curtsy” for you.  And the expressions.  And the lighting changes.  And... a lot of other neat touches, actually. I do find it strange, though, that characters seem to wear their day-clothes to bed, including (in one case) a giant earring.  Do pajamas not exist, in this universe?

The Gameplay

First, let me gush about the back-button.  It seems like such a small thing, I know; but, so often, when I play these games, I click too fast and immediately think, “Dang!  What did that say?!  If only I could go back!”.  But in the opening tutorial (the existence of which is also a lovely touch), one of the first things the game tells you is “Here is a back-button!”  And there was much rejoicing.

Another much-appreciated mercy is the indicator that pops up when you make a correct choice for a given character's route.  Since the game is several hours long, this is a very welcome trouble-saver; though, if you prefer the challenge, this feature can be turned off in the settings.  In fact, doing so is necessary for one of the achievements.  Yes, there are achievements.

As for the game, proper: there are five love interests, all of whom are clearly spelled out for you.  Like with Frozen Essence, there is a common plot up until you choose a character's route, at which point the plots diverge wildly, changing how the villains' schemes unfold, which of them you end up facing, who lives or dies, and how the main conflict gets resolved.  It makes sense, in a chaos-butterfly kind of way.  Also, while the routes never truly meet up at any point, like they do in Requiem of the Abyss, they still acknowledge each other's plot points, which gives it at least some sense of unity.


This game was backed on Kick-starter.  This means that the creators get paid and we get a fairly professional-quality game for the low, low cost of FREE.  While it's not completely flawless, it is definitely excellent in every way.  I could spend a few more paragraphs gushing about it, but really, that's time you and I could both be spending actually playing it.

Remember, though, that this is only my opinion.  You might think this game is something out of a fairy-tale, or your opinion might be more Grimm.  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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