Review: Time Princess - Phantom of the Opera Visual Novel

The Time Princess app has been releasing an endless stream of new visual novels with no sign of slowing down. I've been impressed with the amount of well-known stories the game developers have adapted lately that aren't based on popular fairy tales. The latest one is no exception. Phantom of the Opera is a beloved story among princess fans due to its similarities to "Beauty and the Beast" as well as the beautifully haunting melodies of the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The innocent protagonist who performs various onstage arias in glittering costumes, best friend side character, and classic love triangle make it a prime choice for this game's traditional visual novel story dynamics. That is probably why it is one of the only stories in the game that is presented exactly as it is without any sort of modern twist such as gender-bending the characters like they did for several other adaptations.

Phantom of the Opera artwork of Christine smiling at a rose in her dressing room as the phantom watches her through a mirror.

In this dress-up visual novel, players take on the role of Christine DaaĆ©, a young aspiring opera singer who takes lessons from a mysterious angel who lives inside her mirror. Meanwhile, the Paris Opera House (as seen previously in Find Me in Paris) is in peril from a number of mysterious attacks by a phantom who never shows his face. The visual novel sticks closely to the events of the musical and I'm assuming the original novel by Gaston Leroux as well, though I have never read it. It is a love triangle between Christine, the Phantom, and her childhood sweetheart, Raoul. Christine doesn't remember Raoul at first when he visits her to see her performance at the opera house, but he is persistent in seeking her out until she does. When she discovers that the Phantom poses a real threat to her and the people around her, Christine ends up leaning on Raoul to protect her. The visual novel also incorporates a Persian man from the novel named Daroga, who is more knowledgeable about the phantom than Raoul and does a much better job advising her and keeping her safe, even though his connection is never explained.

The Phantom lures Christine into his inner sanctum and confesses his love, offering to make her a starA fearful Meg tells Christine that no one knows what the Phantom really looks likeRaoul extends his hand to Christine, offering to help her escape the opera house

The story tree in this visual novel is formatted similarly to Swan Lake. Whether the player chooses to romance Raoul or the Phantom during the story's major turning points, it changes very little until the final level, at which point all of the decisions made previously will determine which endings are accessible for either Raoul or the Phantom. This is the first story in this game containing a dead end, meaning that there is a level that gives you a bad ending no matter which decision you pick, creating the illusion of a dynamic story path when it is actually linear. I thought that was rather clever on behalf of the developers since you never know how linear a story path will be in Time Princess until you start playing it. There is a surprisingly large number of potential endings, though most of them can only be accessed from the final chapter, requiring several days of grinding goodwill for the love interests just to complete the story.

It is possible to play the events of the visual exactly like the musical or to run away with Raoul before the Phantom threatens to destroy the opera house and avoid the climax entirely, which would end it around when the song "All I Ask of You" takes place in the musical. There are several different endings where Christine can choose the Phantom, though this version provides little reason why she would want to. The musical allows the audience to sympathize with Erik when Madame Giry explains how she rescued him from being tortured in a freak show as a child. Erik only mentions in passing that he does terrible things because of his facial deformity, but we never see him being tortured over it. He looks extremely handsome with the mask on, and the scene in the visual novel that reveals his face doesn't look that terrible either. This is such a visual game that even things that are supposed to be ugly are made softer and more aesthetically pleasing, which makes it difficult to portray this story in an accurate manner.

Christine in her stunning opera costume, a deep burgundy gown encrusted with gold accents and an elaborate golden crownChristine in her "Angel of Music" gown, an over-the-top white fantasy dress that the Phantom forces her to wear accented with a swirling piano keyboard and white feathered wingsChristine in her standard gray day dress, accented with pink ribbons and an asymmetrical hat with pink roses on it

The costumes for this story in Time Princess did a great job at visually recreating various scenes and songs from the beloved musical. However, the developers were unable to license any of the music, which is a shame considering how iconic the songs are. Christine's "Think of Me" dress is a beautiful burgundy costume inlaid with golden leaf accents and a meticulously detailed gold crown that is one of my favorite hair accessories in the game. Her "Angel of Music" dress is an elaborate fantasy version of the white wedding gown that the Phantom forced her to wear in the musical. Time Princess's version is a more literal representation of the song title with swirling piano key accents and feathery white wings wrapping around the skirt. She also has a number of casual looks for when she is not performing.

Phantom of the Opera visual novel storybook coverChristine reading a book on the Phantom's private riverboat in her "Angel of Music" dress

I liked this visual novel better than Helen of Sparta and Shadows of London because it had several satisfying endings, but I don't think it's the best story in Time Princess. While I'm glad the developers didn't try to mess around with the dynamics of the story too much, the single chapter format does not allow enough time to understand Erik's motivations or create sympathy for him. He comes off a psychopath who stalks Christine from her dressing room. Granted, he is portrayed similarly in the musical, but that version is more informative about his past, and the gorgeous Andrew Lloyd Webber melodies add to his emotional torment in a way that the game was unable to replicate with its generic visual novel background music. My favorite thing about this story is the visuals. I love Christine's opera dress and the beautiful new loading screen of her getting lost in a book as she sails to the Phantom's lair in her stunning "Angel of Music" dress.

Comments

Rose said…
most of the things you've said you disliked about this adaptation are actually what Phantom phans like myself and my friends love most. That this WASN'T close to the musical is a plus for us. The musical is an adaptation and nothing more. The novel it was based on has gotten lost because of the musical's mass appeal and we Phans are extremely grateful to time princess for ripping it mostly out of those trappings that the musical (which we love but as phans we are holistic) has shackled to it. To us, this is not the "think of me" dress, or the "angel of music" dress, they are just beautiful costumes from the theme of Phantom (The angel wing dress does evoke the musical slightly but I think it's stunning!). The bottom line is that this is hands down one of the single greatest adaptations of the source material ever. We have seen almost every adaptation, from silent films to non-ALW stage shows, and this has got to be the closest to the novel I've seen since the 1990s. So I'm frankly glad it has nothing to do with the ALW show because as a phan i"m truly exhausted with the number of people who think it's nothing but a gargantuan Broadway smash. The Phantom is supposed to be a psychopath and manipulate Christine. This is one of the BIGGEST highlights for us for the TP game. It captures the dynamic SO well that all of my friends and I have regularly gotten chills. There are over 30 major and even more minor adaptations, and as far as I am concerned the Time Princess story is now in the pantheon of greatest adaptations. Its only flaw to me is how closely they stuck to the ALW musical's appearance of Erik (that they NAMED him in this when even in the sequel ALW never gave him that dignity), and the fact that the Persian isn't a companion character. That they include him at ALL and that he doesn't look like a Persian stereotype is an absolute MARVEL. Time Princess is incredible for this and it more than makes up for the poorness of the Little Women story.
Lisa Dawn said…
Hi Rose, thanks for your input. I actually thought this adaptation was pretty close to the musical overall, but I'm glad you enjoyed it. Have a lovely day!
Unknown said…
really I need better. stuff to read
Unknown said…
wow goo I love this blog
Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post.

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