Review: Time Princess - Ghost Manor

It might be a little late for Halloween, but that didn't stop Time Princess from adding a new visual novel about a haunted house. Ghost Manor draws some inspiration from the new TV series Ghosts, as both stories are about a young woman who inherited an old mansion from a dead relative that finds out there are a bunch of ghosts living there. The visual novel is a little heavier than the show since much of the plot revolves around the protagonist trying expand her business to pay off a ridiculous inheritance tax. Ghost Manor is probably the most challenging visual novel in Time Princess to date. There are many possible endings and other events that don't show up on the story's flowchart, which makes it nearly impossible to complete at 100% without asking for help. As much as I love the gorgeous new song with English lyrics that plays on the story map for Ghost Manor, I started to get sick of it after replaying the same levels 20 or so times hoping I would unlock something new.

Ghost Manor Visual Novel Cover

In Time Princess's most meta visual novel yet, Stella is a fashionista who developed a dress-up app called Magic Mirror. The story has many Time Princess Easter eggs and is the first to acknowledge the main character's ability to travel into other books within a story. Stella intends to use her new app to raise money so she can keep her late aunt's property and watch over the ghosts who live there. Is it just me, or is having to pay the cost of a mansion as a tax for inheriting it no different from just plain buying one? Anyway, Stella has a great app, but no business savvy to market it. That's where Finn comes in. Finn is a shy lawyer who is always there when Stella needs, even if it's just for emotional support. She hires him to assist her with her business plan as well as the challenge of paying off the gargantuan tax she owes to inherit her aunt's mansion. On top of that, she must grant the last wishes of the five ghosts living there to ensure that they can move on peacefully in case it gets bought out and turned into a hotel.

Finn offers to help Stella with the manorThe ghosts explain that they are tied to specific objects in the manorStella is surprised that her aunt was also able to see the ghosts

Like the other visual novels in Time Princess, Ghost Manor has two potential love interests, who make the story feel bloated with everything else that's going on. For me, Finn is the only viable love interest for Stella. He is reliable, kind, and mature. I thought it was sweet how shy he was about asking her out and that there is a lot more to him than just his business. He reminds me a bit of Phoenix Wright. The other love interest is Ryan Bergman, an ancestor of the long-lost lover of one of the ghosts. Ryan comes off as a college frat boy who is too young and immature for Stella. Following in the footsteps of Ancient Dreams, this story contains two additional companions in the form of two ghosts in the manor. However, they are not the two I would have picked. There are five ghosts that Stella must help come to terms with their pasts, and I'm not why these two in particular were singled out for companion status. My favorite ghost is Sage, a scientist who masters the internet in a matter of hours and hacks Stella's tablet. I also like Jim, who waited a hundred years for his lost love, Cynthia.

Old Earl and Sage spook some guests at the manorJim catches up with his lost love, CynthiaOld Earl and Helen dance together at a party

After my disappointment with the fashions in the last modern-day story, Whispers of the Rain, I feel like the developers must have been taking notes because the clothes in Ghost Manor are a vast improvement. They take the idea of modern fashion and add a sense of whimsy and fun to it, which is something I had come to expect from this game up to that point. It's clear that Stella has an eye for fashion from her fully coordinated casual and formal wear. Her outfits look like magically enhanced versions of modern clothing with fun little accents that make them larger than life such as flowers, butterflies, or ruffles. My favorites include a pale lavender flowing skirt and peasant top set that look a modern version of a fairy tale princess dress and a multi-layered gold and white evening gown with floral and butterfly accents. Most of the outfits are rewarded so late in the book that I found I was dressing Stella in her formal business attire for most of it, which is also very pretty and feminine. However, I would have appreciated an opportunity for more variety while I was playing through the story.

Ghost Manor is a bold move for Time Princess. It's a fully packed interactive visual novel with many possible outcomes. I can't say I was particularly invested in all the business scandals that Stella was researching for the ghosts, but I liked Finn as a love interest and thought the ghosts were fun, especially Sage. Though there are a few touching moments, it is frustrating to try to complete every possible outcome. I love the variety of fashions and think it was cute that the story included several nods to the app that it came from such as a Time Princess billboard in one of the backgrounds, incorporating the player's ability to enter stories, and creating a character who wants to use a dress up app to solve her problems. As much as I personally prefer playing as a princess or queen rather than a businesswoman, I can understand why that would be a more realistic option for modern settings since royal families are mostly figureheads today. Still, I am far more eager to play the next story, Catherine the Great, than I was for this one.


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