Review: Dress Up! Time Princess - Queen Marie Visual Novel

Queen Marie is the first visual novel that players can unlock in the Dress Up! Time Princess smartphone game app. It is the most user-friendly story in the game, but that doesn't mean it's easy to complete! It is the polar opposite of Swan Lake with dynamic story branches that shift based on your choices and a myriad of possible endings. It also has the largest number of characters to bond with, although only two of them are viable love interests. The game allows you to play as Marie Antoinette from the perspective of a modern girl who is aware of her gruesome fate and has the ability to alter history, similar to the anime My Next Life as a Villainess. The interactive visual novel also allows you to unlock a full closet of extravagant French colonial-style gowns and wigs.

Queen Marie storybook cover

Queen Marie gives Dress Up! Time Princess players the opportunity to experience the luxurious lifestyle of the pre-revolution French monarchy while making decisions that can alter history and potentially prevent the revolution from taking place. Prior to playing this game, I knew very little about Marie Antoinette aside from the famous "Let them eat cake" conspiracy. I wasn't particularly impressed with Sofia Coppola's 2006 feature film portrayal of the infamous monarch either. Yet, this interactive visual novel managed to grab my interest and hold it for a full month of gameplay. I'm not sure if it was out of sheer curiosity for what would happen if I changed my decisions to unlock a new story branch or the primal vanity of being able to wear breathtaking gowns that bounce and twirl on my digital avatar, but something about this particular take on history really appealed to me. Yes, there were times when the political dialogue got boring or confusing, but that gave me another excuse to repeat chapters and try again for a perfect score or unlock a new section of the story.

Pink Queen Marie DressBlue Queen Marie DressPurple Queen Marie Dress

I learned a lot about various historical figures through Marie's companions and love interests. It begins after she is married to King Louis XVI, but the story encourages you to choose between Count Fersen of Sweden and Marquis de Lafayette (yes, that Lafayette) as lovers because the king wouldn't be able to do much to fend off the angry citizens if you go the route of the French Revolution. One of the best endings, which I didn't discover until I was much further along, is to run away with your best friend Gabrielle, a minor duchess, and live an ordinary life in the countryside. I also enjoyed the endings that allow Marie to discuss tax reform with the nobles and prevent the French revolution from happening entirely. Among the three love interests, Fersen is by far my favorite. He is completely devoted to Marie and showers her with compliments and words of love whenever they cross paths. It's hard for any woman to not be swayed by such overwhelmingly romantic gestures.

Count FersenMarquis de LafayetteGabrielle

The dynamic decision-making system is what truly makes this visual novel stand out in comparison to historical dramas. There are many different paths you can take, and each one is rooted in an actual historical event. The game begins with a famous scandal over a diamond necklace that Marie Antoinette historically refused to purchase before a scheming countess tricked the people into believing that she bought it anyway. I got my first "bad" ending when I agreed to pay for the necklace in installments and learned that the real Marie had never purchased it for the sake of maintaining the royal budget. From there, players can work on restoring Marie's good name among the people by donating jewelry, taxing the rich to help the poor, and paying a charity visit to the commoners to donate food. The game ends early if you prevent the French Revolution, but you can unlock many more events if you allow it to happen anyway. Once the revolution takes place, Marie must choose between Fersen and Lafayette to protect her from the angry citizens or she will suffer the same fate as her historical doppelganger.

Marie stands at the guillotine, failing to change historyMarie and Lafayette sail away into the sunsetMarie holds a meeting with the aristocracy to prevent the revolution

The developers of Dress Up! Time Princess put a lot of love and energy into Queen Marie. As the first story that players are able to unlock, they knew that people would use this game to gauge their opinion about the app as a whole. It does a beautiful job of weaving historical events and figures into an interactive novel format that provides an equally educational and entertaining experience. I didn't find it too frustrating to obtain most of the clothing items I needed to unlock new levels with few exceptions. The dresses, wigs, and accessories are very pretty, and I had a lot of fun collecting them. I particularly enjoyed Fersen's romantic gestures and learning to become a better monarch than the tragic figure that the visual novel centers around.

Queen Marie story mapMarie argues about political tactics

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