Review: Time Princess - Sisters of the Sea

Everything's coming up mermaids! I just finished the final book in the amazing Vazula Chronicles the same week that Time Princess finally released the mermaid visual novel I had been waiting for. "Sisters of the Sea" draws heavy inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid," but it is not the same story. Since the majority of it takes place on land, the game failed to provide any mermaid clothing or even mermaid-inspired outfits, opting instead for a more historically authentic Danish look from the period that the story takes place. The mermaids were a big draw for me, but I wouldn't consider this the most well-written story in the game, nor was it one of the worst.

"Sisters of the Sea" puts the player character in the role of Ondine, the little mermaid's sister, who turns human with some help from the Sea Wizard and travels to land in the hopes of restoring the soul of her sister, Marin. In this version, the mermaids do not give up their voice or their hair to become human but instead make a deal to help the Sea Wizard sabotage a ceremony that was meant to maintain peace between the kingdoms of the land and sea and became corrupt over the years. In this version, humans are very much aware of the existence of merfolk, and most harbor a pretty poor opinion of them. Because of this, Ondine must keep her identity a secret even though she can go back to her mermaid form at any time by touching the water, a theme that exists in many modern mermaid stories. On her quest to rescue her sister, she makes many allies and slowly uncovers the truth behind the ancient pact and Sea Wizard's motivation to destroy it.

This story has three companions. I preferred the female friend to the two potential love interests. Linore is a beautiful priestess who is locked away in a temple hidden in the depths of the castle for the sake of devoting her life to honoring the ancient pact. Though she is not supposed to speak to others, she makes an exception for Ondine and is as kind to her as she is wise. She is the sister of Prince Lucas, who wishes to nullify the pact to free Linore from her duty so she can live a normal life. When Ondine meets Prince Lucas for the first time, she struggles with her prejudice toward him, believing that he betrayed her sister and caused her soul to become trapped in a magic shell. When she sees how kind he is to her, she realizes that nothing is quite what it seems. Elias, a castle guard, has some secrets of his own and offers to team up with Ondine to help her accomplish their aligning goals.

The clothing options were the biggest disappointment of this story. While I understand that the clothes in Time Princess are applied to a base human model whose form can't be altered, I was expecting more mermaid-inspired fashions as opposed to historically accurate Danish ones. After all, a story about mermaids is the last thing you would expect to be historically accurate. The truth is I prefer the look of the paid special outfit from a few months ago or the "Lucky Jerry" mermaid dress from Gotham Memoirs to any of the dresses offered in this book. Though they were nice enough on their own, there's no comparison to some of the stunning ensembles the game has released in the past. After seeing how White Snake incorporated the snake motif into all of the protagonist's human clothing, I was expecting something similar from this. The closest this visual novel got to a mermaid-inspired look was the stylized sea armor dress that came with gorgeous seafoam-colored hair. This book had the same pitfall as the previous story, which requires you to win the final clothing piece to complete several of the outfits in the game's lottery system.

The most I can say about "Sisters of the Sea" is that it gave me a chance to stop complaining about the lack of mermaids in Time Princess. As far as epic adventures at sea go, I think I prefer "The Perfect Storm," which had better music, stronger writing, more creative costumes, and more fun characters. I was pleased that "Sisters of the Sea" gave Ondine an energetic crab sidekick reminiscent of Sebastian, but it didn't have much going for it other than that. The changes it made to "The Little Mermaid" seemed more confusing than deep, though the idea of telling the story from a sister's perspective is an intriguing concept. The little mermaid's sisters played a big role in original the fairy tale by trading their long hair for a knife to give her, yet no other adaptation truly explores what any of them were like outside of their connection to her. Like many other recent stories in Time Princess, this one felt rushed. I would have loved to see more time spent on developing the relationship between humans and the merfolk. I also wouldn't be opposed to a spin-off story that allows us to play as Marin.


Anonymous said…
Does it talk about divinities?
Lisa Dawn said…
There was a sea god who was referenced quite a bit, but I think it was a made-up one.

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