Review: Time Princess - Kingdom of Beasts

A few weeks ago, I was looking forward to playing Time Princess's rendition of Catherine the Great, but then it got postponed, possibly for political reasons, though that has not been confirmed officially. There wasn't much time to mourn its loss before something completely different dropped to make us forget how much we were looking forward to it. Kingdom of Beasts, the new story, is unique in several ways. It is the first full-length visual novel in Time Princess that celebrates its LGBT love interest in an open way instead of being discreet about it like previous books in this game. It also addresses hard-hitting issues like racism and slavery but does so in a visually stunning fantasy setting that doesn't get overly dark or depressing.

Kingdom of Beasts Visual Novel Cover

Kingdom of Beasts tells the story of Dahlia, an inquisitive young woman who runs an underground network of spies. Dahlia must set off on an unexpected journey when her parents force her into an arranged marriage to restore their family's fortune. This journey leads her to an auction house where she meets a dashing woman named Olive and bids away her savings to free an enslaved half-beast named Aaron. Both Olive and Aaron fall for Dahlia pretty quickly, but she comes to suspect that Olive is keeping a huge secret from her that relates to her upcoming marriage and desires to help Aaron find a home for himself where can be free as a half-beast whether it is with or without her by his side. These investigations distract her from her two potential romances long enough to go on an adventure that allows her to grow closer to both of them in the process. She also takes in an adorable little half-beast girl named Winni who plays a crucial factor in many of Dahlia's decisions for the rest of the story.

Dahlia's partner at Fort Hawke berates her parents for forcing her to marryAaron misunderstands Dahlia's attempt to free him from slaveryWinni defends Dahlia's honor to her betrothed

In order to make the game's visual novels more challenging, Time Princess has been including more than two companions in their recent stories. The way they did that in this one spoiled a major part of the game for me. The game developers separated one character into two companions even though it was very obvious they were the same person. Learning this secret would have come as a much bigger surprise to me if I hadn't already seen the character's models in the Lantern section when I installed the book. Still, I thought this was a clever twist that had only been attempted before in Phantom of the Opera, where it was even more obvious that the Angel of Music and Phantom characters were one and the same. This twist provided an opportunity for a queer relationship that could have actually worked during a time period where such relationships would have otherwise been considered taboo. On the other side of the coin, Aaron made for just as interesting of a love interest because he provided an opportunity for Dahlia to bridge the gap between humans and half-beasts and give him a better life than the one he was forced to live because of the prejudice in their society.

Olive rescues Dahlia from fallingDahlia grows close with AaronDahlia reveals a dangerous secret to her betrothed

The clothing in Kingdom of Beasts is unique compared to the other stories in Time Princess, which is quite the accomplishment considering how many there are. As the game's first full-length queer visual novel, it makes sense that many of the outfits look like stylized versions of historical men's clothing, but they are designed in a way that still looks good on female models. However, there were some beautiful feminine options as well. My favorite is the exquisite purple jewel-encrusted gown that Dahlia wears whenever she is in the presence of royalty. There is also a cute half-beast costume with cat ears that she wears for her adventures with Aaron and Winni as well as a new wedding dress option that is different from the other ones in the game but just as lovely. The initial clothing previews from this story made me think it would be about pirates, but it turned out I was wrong. Still, some of the looks would work great for fantasy pirate-inspired dress up.

Dahlia in a pirate-like outfitDahlia in a jewel-encrusted purple gown fit for royaltyDahlia dressed as a half-beast

Overall, Kingdom of Beasts is an excellent addition to the Time Princess library that adds several unique elements for different types of players. The queer romance was handled exceptionally well as was the alternative route about escaping slavery in a racist society. I loved Winni's character and how attached she was to Dahlia. She reminded me of Xiaojing from Ancient Dreams, another visual novel in this game where the protagonist takes on a protective role for a little girl. This story serves as a reminder of why the visual novels in Time Princess are so appealing to lovers of princess stories. Even though the protagonists in these stories are not always royalty, their actions are perfect examples of kindness and courage, proving that any girl can be a princess if she takes the time to care about the struggles of those around her.

Kingdom of Beasts story map

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