Review: Time Princess - Dominic's Disappearance

Dominic's Disappearance is the latest visual novel in the Time Princess app. I beat this story a week ago and got held up by my cruise, so this is not going to be one of my better reviews. I may get some details wrong, and for that, I apologize in advance. This is not one of my favorite stories in Time Princess. As implied by the game's title, I usually hope for new stories from this game based on fairy tales or history. I don't know why they keep releasing these dark murder mysteries that don't seem to have the same appeal to the game's target audience. This latest entry is pretty depressing but not quite as much as the last one. It tells the story of a girl who is searching for her missing brother.

When it becomes clear that no one is going to solve the mystery of Dominic's disappearance for her, Sandra decides to take the matter of finding her brother into her own hands and infiltrates the last place he was seen--an all-boys academy. Donning a disguise as a boy named Samuel, Sandra enlists in the school after getting some help from her father and family friend, Roderick, and begins interrogating the students she meets there in an attempt to find the truth. Some of them see straight through her disguise but decide to keep her secret while others are uninterested in associating with her when they realize that she's too nosy for her own good. She also takes on female personas depending on the situation, so it isn't a full Mulan-style story.

None of the three love interests in this visual novel particularly stood out to me. Sandra chases them down mainly to learn information about Dominic, so any romance that takes place beyond that is secondary to the main plot. Leo is her mysteriously tragic roommate who is stuck in an unfortunate situation. Alkin is the person who was closest to Dominic and has the answer regarding what happened to him. Learning the truth in Alkin's route actually felt a little anti-climactic because he comes right out and says it when you ask him. I was expecting a much bigger conspiracy to unfurl with more for the player to have to figure out. Jacques is the most interesting of the three love interests due to his alter ego as a roguish thief. He's a big flirt and has the most allure out of the three companions in the story.

Dominic's Disappearance is one of the most perplexing stories in Time Princess in terms of fashion. Maybe it's my own lack of knowledge about history or the story's lack of worldbuilding, but I had no idea when or where this visual novel was supposed to take place. A lot of the outfits looked like things you could buy today at Hot Topic with old-world inspiration and a contemporary flair. Since a good portion of the story involves dressing as a boy, you would think it would have a lot of men's fashions, but actually, Sandra's disguises as Samuel are rather cute and girly. One of them even has pink hair. My favorite look is her short red and pink dress that appears goth or steampunk-inspired and is similar to the types of dresses I like to purchase from Hot Topic.

Dominic's Disappearance just isn't one of Time Princess's best stories. It doesn't create a strong sense of space or time and introduces a half-baked mystery only to resolve it in a simple line of dialogue from one of the story's companions. I'm not thrilled with the direction this game has been going lately with its darker more realistic stories that deal with subjects that we play games like this to escape from. I hope it returns to its historical/fairy tale roots soon. Time Princess did another massive update recently that allows players to explore the Story Kingdom, which I found problematic because of how much more addictive it has become as a result. I enjoy this app a lot, but I don't want to devote every second of my free time to playing it. What are some of your thoughts on the latest updates to Time Princess? Let me know in the comments!


Sugar said…
I think partly in romance there is a kind of revival of gothic/horror themes with romance, dark fantasy, Korean manhwas with stories about betrayals, villains where the protagonist has to face psychopathic kings with her interests with mental problems, hitmen, gangsters, etc.
Of course Eastern media still tends to be more romantic/softer than Western romance in some ways just look at how the genre called "dark romance" went from being a hidden subgenre for people with unconventional tastes to being a GREAT subgenre. In short, I'm afraid that Time Princess is no stranger to these trends.
I'm afraid gritty outsells cute and light despite the HUGE sub-genre that is "clean, sweet, cozy, healthy, etc" romance I just hope time princess stays on the "somber story/tender romance" spectrum and don't turn out to be a somber story with a love interest with psychopathic or sociopathic characteristics.
Maybe they should just release another app for this trend, leave time princess for fairy tales, fantasy and history and make good..."gothic princess" for horror stories, vampires, murders etc.

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