Review: Time Princess - Ancient Dreams

Right after last month's triple whammy, Time Princess released another visual novel called Ancient Dreams. This is the third story to take place in China following Tang Dynasty Hunter and White Snake. The plot of Ancient Dreams is similar to Tang Dynasty Hunter. Both stories are about young ladies who can see spirits that reside within inanimate objects and must help the spirits resolve issues from their pasts through the reincarnations of their previous owners, but I enjoyed Ancient Dreams more. Its three chapters allotted plenty of wiggle room for additional character development and depth. The story takes place in a different era than Tang Dynasty Hunter, which allows for lots of fun new outfits. I didn't notice if the year was stated in the book, but the fashion and technology are reminiscent of the early 20th century, the same era that Taishō Adventures and Gotham Memoirs take place.

Ancient Dreams Visual Novel Cover from Time Princess

The protagonist in Ancient Dreams is Gu Yunting, the granddaughter of a renowned restorer of antiques, who desires to follow in her grandfather's footsteps. Like the protagonist in Tang Dynasty Hunter, Yunting has a secret ability that allows her to hear the voices of spirits that live inside the antiques that she restores. She uses her ability to help these spirits resolve issues with their past owners and move on to homes where they can live long and happy lives. Most of the antiques in Yunting's shop are happy to be around someone who understands them so well, especially Xiaojing, a little girl who manifested from one half of a vase that Yuntig restored. Yunting acts as a mother figure to Xiaojing, taking care of her and buying her cakes to make sure she is happy while she secretly investigates the mystery of what happened to Xiaojing's long-lost sister, the other half of the vase.

Xiaojing, a little girl who manifested from a vase in Yunting's shopPei Jingli, a mysterious manYunting asks Commander Huo Shao to let her investigate his home for spirits

This story is somewhat bloated when it comes to companions. It is the first story since the original trilogy to have more than three companions, which can make it a challenge for newer players to raise enough goodwill to meet the book's ending requirements. There are two potential love interests, but so much of the story revolves around Xiaojing and finding her sister that any romantic elements feel extraneous. Pei Jingli is the first potential love interest. He hires Yunting to restore a copy of a painting for him. I had very little interest in romancing him until the end of the story because he comes off as a creepy stalker at first. He always knows where Yunting is going to be, anticipates all of her needs, and answers none of her questions. It wasn't until I figured out his secret that I trusted him and wanted them to end up together. Commander Huo Shao is more straightforward and is the key to finding Xiaojing's long-lost sister, Lan.

Portrait of a Woman painting from Ancient DreamsChinese Landscape painting with Yunting playing with two children at the bottomPainting of Yunting with Commander Huo Shao

My favorite thing about Ancient Dreams is the beautiful artwork that resembles old Chinese paintings. They are so pretty and unique compared to the art from other recent visual novels. The fancy border and transition into Chinese text add a sense of authenticity to the context of Yunting as an antique restorer and breathe life into this mystical world of spirits. The dresses are another form of beautiful art in this world. While Tang Dynasty Hunter's ancient robes all looked pretty similar, Ancient Dreams has a wide variety of long dresses, short dresses, and casual skirts and tops. Many of the formal gowns are dripping with glittering beadwork that is reminiscent of the roaring 20s. There are also a few looks that remind me of the Japanese Lolita style with big ruffled sleeves and dramatic floral patterns. One of them even includes a rotating pinwheel as a handheld accessory.

I think this is the best Chinese-inspired visual novel in Time Princess so far. The writers probably spent more time on it than Tang Dynasty Hunter or White Snake. The story is fully fleshed out with a satisfying number of potential endings that don't leave any loose strings. I loved how each chapter introduces a new spirit object with their own backstory that Yunting must help them resolve. Xiaojing's carefree attitude gave it a unique sense of innocence that strengthened her bond with Yunting and made it a pleasure to reunite her with her sister. To top it all off, the gorgeous artwork and fashions cemented the visual novel's setting. I would recommend Ancient Dreams to Time Princess players that have completed one or two of the early stories and are looking for more of a challenge.

Ancient Dreams book interior


Unknown said…
I simp Huo Shao.
Lucilla said…
I'm so impressed by your 100% completion!!! This is a story I wanted to get for the dresses, but so glad to learn that it has a great story too, cuz TDH and White Snake definitely were simple on the plot side.

I guess I'll get this story for the companions to raise their goodwill early until I have enough resources to play this fully, haha.

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