Review: Dress Up! Time Princess - Helen of Sparta Visual Novel

When the developers for the Dress up! Time Princess app asked fans what type of story they would like to see next in the game, an overwhelming majority of people requested Greek mythology. Many were expecting a classic myth such as Hades and Persephone. The developers of this game are always full of surprises and like to incorporate some history into their visual novels or retell an old story in a new way. Therefore, it wasn't too much of a surprise when the latest visual novel turned out to be Helen of Sparta, a fantastical reimagining of the Greek legend about the most beautiful woman in the world who acted as a catalyst for the Trojan War. Don't worry, though. There isn't any war or bloodshed in this visual novel. In fact, there isn't a whole lot of anything aside from breathtakingly beautiful costumes.

Princess Helen dancing in a temple shrine in a flowing blue gown with a magical golden relic.

Before I started playing Helen of Sparta, I wasn't very familiar with the legend of Helen of Troy except that her beauty caused a bunch of thirsty men to kill each other. Now that I've completed it, I still don't know much more else. This visual novel is the most bare bones story the game has released thus far, to many players' disappointment. The biggest blow for me was when I unlocked all three possible endings only to realize that the game has no "good" ending. I won't spoil it, but that two endings result in failure, and the third results in a cliffhanger that says "Come back at a future time." Every other story in this game has multiple "good" endings depending which route you take, so it was more than a little disheartening to place so much time and effort into getting a perfect score in every level only to learn that there would be no reward. Well, that's not entirely true. The story rewards you with some of the most beautiful gowns and accessories in the app so far. Fantastical hair colors, iridescent fabrics, flowers and butterflies galore await your transformation into this legendary beauty.

Princess Helen in an iridescent blue and purple butterfly gown with oversized wings and a grand silver crownPrincess Helen in a glittering chiffon gown and ankle-length hair covered in pink flower and ribbon accentsHelen in a gold and white Valkyrie dress with lavender hair

The novel's story revolves around a prophet named Cassandra, who predicts that Helen's beauty will become the catalyst for a great catastrophe that will take many lives. Helen spends the rest of the game trying to prevent this catastrophe with her two love interests, Apollo and Achilles. The methods they use to try to prevent the prophecy are vague and confusing. It seems like the writers just wanted an excuse to have Helen travel to various places where she could encounter Greek gods. This also makes the dress up aspect of the novel a bit awkward. Unlike Swan Lake, which portrays the princess returning to the castle to change every night, Helen's companions suggest that she change \clothes while they're out in the middle of the woods traveling to a temple or just arrived in the Underworld and want to fit in with the setting. Why Helen would have a change of clothes in the Underworld or the middle of the woods is beyond me, nor why it is necessary for her to change so many times in a single day. The only scene that I think it was necessary is when she does a dance in Aphrodite's temple because she needs to wear a special costume for her performance.

The story isn't the only thing that falls flat in Helen of Sparta. The love interests, usually one of the most appealing aspects of visual novels, lack any depth. They are both taken at face value from their opening lines onward. Achilles is Helen's bodyguard and doesn't care about anything but protecting Helen, even if it means beating up someone who is mildly irritating her. Apollo is a big flirt, but I'll take his godly sweet-talking over Achilles' anger issues any day. All of the other visual novels in this game give you happy endings with a specific love interest based on how many times you choose that person in the story. Helen of Sparta is different. There are no happy endings, so choosing Apollo or Achilles at various times will open up new levels that immediately loop back to the main story. That means you must go back and choose both of them every time just to unlock the main story path, which is a pain in the neck when you realize there's no reward for being faithful to one or the other. Each love interest has his own "bad" ending, but you don't have to consistently choose the same person to unlock it.

An adorable illustration of Hellen, Apollo, and baby Hermes on a clouded background

I got through more than half of Helen of Sparta in a single day, but it took over two weeks before I could unlock the required pieces for the final levels. The visual novels in this game have a steep learning curve that becomes more apparent when a story is only one chapter long. I wish I had known that there were no happy endings so I wouldn't have been as disappointed with all the work I put in to unlock the final level. The clothing in this story is so beautiful that crafting all of it presents a reward in itself. If you are a first-time player, you should definitely play the other stories before this one. The difficulty level at the end of the game is much higher than the other visual novels in the Dress up! Time Princess app. You should also keep in mind that none of the decisions you make in this story will have any consequences because all three endings are bad. It looks like the developers are planning to release a follow-up story at a future time, which will hopefully tie up at least some of the many loose ends that this one left behind.

Helen of Sparta storybook at 100% completion featuring a Greek temple

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