Review: Time Princess - Have You Seen Claudia?

The latest visual novel in the Time Princess app revolved around a real-life murderer and sparked so much controversy that the developers had to edit some of the story's features the very next day after it was launched! Have You Seen Claudia? takes place in Chicago during the year 1893 and is about a young woman who gets wrapped up in a scandal involving the famous serial killer H.H. Holmes. It plays out a murder mystery that will keep you guessing right until the very end. Though it in no way condones Holmes' monstrous criminal acts, many players were offended that he was listed as a companion in the game's Lantern section. In a hot update the following day, the developers removed him and one other character from that section. They also changed the clothing names and descriptions so they no longer reflected other famous killers and victims. This story beats Dancing On Ice by leaps and bounds as the darkest one in the game, but the mystery element makes it that much more intriguing.

Have You Seen Claudia? Visual Novel Cover

Have You Seen Claudia? tells the story of Edith, a well-off aspiring architect who travels to Chicago to visit her adopted sister, Claudia. The mystery begins the moment she arrives at the train station when Claudia isn't there to pick her up. She heads straight to the police station to report the case, but the Chicago police force turns out to be a bunch of jerks who have no interest in helping their citizens. The only people willing to help her are Henry Holmes, a hotel owner who claims that Claudia was feeling ill and returned home to their southern estate, and Joshua, a butcher who dreams of being on the police force. The decisions that the player makes with these two men will lead Edith on different paths that allow her to slowly piece together the mystery of what happened to Claudia.

Edith boasts to Joshua about what a wonderful person Claudia isHolmes introduces himself as Claudia's friendLayla is suspicious of Holmes' intentions

This story initially had three companions, but two of them were removed due to complaints, which already revealed a spoiler to observant players. The one remaining companion is Layla, a goth girl who befriends Edith shortly after she moves to Chicago, and the two become roommates. Layla is an aspiring novelist who is obsessed with all things dark and macabre. She belongs to the Whitechapel Club, an exclusive group of journalists obsessed with murder cases, which turns out to be an important resource to Edith finding out the truth behind Claudia's disappearance. Layla is hesitant to trust any of the men in Edith's life, even the helpful Joshua, but she eventually comes around. By the second chapter, the story shifts into Edith forming an underground investigative team with Layla and Joshua in an attempt to take down Holmes. However, even Edith falls for some of Holmes' charms before she finds reasons to be suspicious of him.

Edith leads Layla away from the Holmes HotelEdith, Joshua, and Layla investigate HolmesJoshua saves Edith from Holmes

Though Shadows of London also takes place around the Victorian era and therefore has some similar fashions, I liked the clothes from Have You Seen Claudia? even better overall. The dresses from this story contain all the elements I love about Victorian fashion with even brighter colors and more ruffles. My favorite dress reminds me of Belle's "Something There" dress from Beauty and the Beast with swirling ruffles in multiple shades of pink and yellow flower accents. Other ensembles include a soft mint green gown with lace accents and lavender hair as well as a feminine twist on business wear from the 1800s ad a reminder of how serious Edith is about becoming a professional architect. Even Layla's black and white goth dress has an impressive design with ruffles that go on for days.

Edith in a Victorian business dressEdith in a soft lacy green gownEdith in a ruffled pink dress with pink and yellow floral accents

Controversy aside, this story is a great option for Time Princess players who are looking for something a little darker than the usual fairy tale romance stories that encompass most of the visual novels in this game. It is an excellent demonstration of how an intelligent and capable woman can still fall victim to a criminal mastermind's tricks if she isn't careful. The ending, while heartbreaking, is not what players might expect, which will keep them on the edge of their seats until they unlock that very last level. I can understand the controversy behind referencing real-life murders for all the beautiful clothing in this story, but I'm glad the story itself remains untouched in all of its heart-wrenching glory.

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