Review: Time Princess - House of Horrors

The latest visual novel in Time Princess is called House of Horrors, which sounds more like a horror movie than the fairy tales and historical novels that first attracted me to the game. In fact, it has been nearly four months since Time Princess released a story about actual royalty with Cleopatra, and the teaser for their next one is set in modern times. While House of Horrors may not have been what I was hoping for, I didn't find it as scary as the title would imply. The story is very linear and unveils an intriguing mystery piece by piece with beautiful Victorian-inspired gothic clothing. I think it came out a little too soon after Ghost Manor to feel fresh and new, but the mystery aspect made it worth a quick playthrough.

Book Cover for House of Horrors

House of Horrors is one of few recent visual novels in Time Princess that acknowledges the enchanted storybook the protagonist enters to receive the memories of each character she inhabits. It is relevant here because when she wakes up, she finds that she has not received any memories as though the enchanted book is defective somehow. It would have been great to explore this route a bit more, but instead, she is introduced to the characters and rules of the mysterious mansion she finds herself trapped in, while her true memories are revealed in the second chapter. She believes her name is Rae due to an engraved bracelet she discovers shortly after waking up. A sweet country girl named Coiseam gives her a tour of the house and its other inhabitants, some of whom also have amnesia. The presence of a mysterious man and a nightly time warp are just a few of the other mysterious factors she learns about her new home.

Rae explains her amnesiaOther inhabitants reveal some of the mysteries of the houseCoiseam shows Rae around

This story has little going for it in terms of romance. Finding a way out of the cursed mansion is a much more pressing matter for Rae and her companions. Coiseam was my favorite companion, and I would have loved to learn more about her backstory and how she ended up living alone in the woods with only her father's rifle to protect herself. She is as sweet as pie and reminds me of Annie Oakley from Annie Get Your Gun. Anson seems sweet and mild-mannered at first but is revealed later to have a dark secret. Conversely, Zacharias seems intimidating when Rae meets him, but he is later revealed to be like a big brother to her. It's no coincidence that only these three are listed as companions for this story in Time Princess. Though the mysterious mansion has other residents, they turn out to be connected to each other later in a surprising and unexpected way.

Coiseam reaches for RaeAnson hypnotizes RaeRae tends to Zacharias's wounds

After playing Time Princess for well over a year, I have collected over a thousand clothing items in the game, so it is always a challenge to come up with something new and unique for each story. This one really hit the mark. It incorporates some of my favorite clothing staples from gothic fantasies, including the classic red and black vampire-like dress and a long flowing lace white nightgown, perfect for running barefoot through haunted mansions. This story took some of my favorite historical fashions and presented them in an aesthetically pleasing manner that perfectly matches the tone of the visual novel that inspired them. Fans of Gothic Lolita fashion would find a lot to love about this book. Rae's pink and white dinner party dress that is covered in ruffles and bows particularly reminds me of some of the things I love the most about Lolita fashion.

Rae's gothic red dressRae's gorgeous white nightgownRae in a pink and blue Lolita-style tea party dress

Overall, I found this book a bit too similar to other recent visual novels in Time Princess such as Ghost Manor, but I didn't find it as frustrating to play because the story is so linear. It is easy to get 100% of each chapter without needing to replay other chapters multiple times, which gave me an opportunity to sit back and watch the mystery slowly reveal itself. However, I think House of Horrors may have not been the best choice for this lack of player interaction because it could have been fun to try to figure things out on my own instead of seeing each mystery get resolved in each progressive level. Still, it gave me an opportunity to relax and enjoy the beautiful artwork and clothing that House of Horrors has to offer. I'm hoping to see some more traditional princess stories from this game in the future.

House of Horrors story selection screen

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