Review: Time Princess - Twilight's Crown

I was elated to learn that the next visual novel in Time Princess would be a return to noblebright stories about royalty! The now massive smartphone app originally premiered with a visual novel about Queen Marie, so it was only a matter of time before it returned to its roots. Twilight's Crown is a mix of history and fantasy, with a disclaimer that any relevance it has to real-life events is purely coincidental. However, the game is packed with references to famous princesses and queens. Its main character, Eleanor, shares a similar backstory to Queen Elizabeth in regards to living in a world where primogeniture laws favor male heirs over female ones and a series of unlikely events that lead up to her becoming a sovereign queen after her brothers die young. Her royal gowns feature a red and green flower insignia that strongly resembles one used on the iconic necklace from Anastasia to prove her regal lineage. There are also visual and plot-related nods to "Beauty and the Beast," one of the most iconic princess stories.

Twilight's Crown begins with the coronation of Princess Eleanor, who becomes the unlikely Queen of Calvert after the male heirs pass away in a war. On the day of her coronation, her kingdom is struck with fear of a monstrous beast known as the Liontaur. However, when Eleanor goes to investigate the disruption, the Liontaur is revealed to be a gentle creature who is loyal to the crown. Throughout the story, she discovers the Liontaur's true identity and how he came to be cursed in the body of a beast and decides to help him. To do this, she enlists in the aid of Christian, a merchant with a dark secret, and Ophelia, her adoptive sister. The story touches on themes of female empowerment and sexism in the Middle Ages, but it is not long enough to explore these themes fully. Though I was more personally engaged in this story than in the previous grimdark visual novel, The Underground City, the developers put a great deal more time and effort into that story than they did for this one. Twilight's Crown has a simple plot, with similar endings, giving players little power to control the main character's fate.

The three companions in this story are vital to breaking the Liontaur's curse alongside Eleanor, and each of them tests her abilities as queen. Ophelia lost her family in a fire and grew up alongside Eleanor. She lives vicariously through Eleanor because she believes she is not capable of making a difference in her own noble house due to the laws against women learning magic. Eleanor must help Ophelia to see her own potential so both women can grow into strong female leaders. The Liontaur, the first of two love interests, is visually similar to the Beast from "Beauty and the Beast." He is a gentle soul who fell under unfortunate circumstances that caused him to become trapped in the body of a monster. Due to her lineage, Eleanor is the only one who can understand him and is therefore the only person capable of helping him break the curse. Christian is another potential love interest, but the game is not long enough to get to know his true personality. Though he introduces himself as a traveling merchant, his real identity can be revealed if the player can earn his trust by making the right choices.

Like most visual novels in Time Princess, Twilight's Crown has stunning aesthetics. The story's art style resembles a mix of medieval tapestries and old storybook illustrations. The costumes are every bit as extravagant and gorgeous as one would expect from a story about royalty, but they are limited in quantity. There are only three outfits that can be unlocked by playing through the story alone. The first is a regal red coronation gown featuring the iconic "Find Me in Paris" flower insignia from Anastasia, an extravagant fur-trimmed cloak, a ruby-encrusted crown, and long flowing red hair. The second is an Elizabethan-inspired muted gold dress with similar floral accents and a more practical design, while the third is a formal peasant dress designed for travel and comfort. In addition to the story's visual splendor, there is a beautiful Disney Princess-like ballad that can be heard on the main story map, which contains some visual similarities to the Disney Parks.

Twilight's Crown is a delightful return to noblebright stories about royalty in Time Princess's ever-expanding library of visual novels. With its beautiful medieval-inspired art style, extravagant costumes, and nods to beloved princess stories like "Beauty and the Beast" and Anastasia, this game is a must-play for fans of the genre. While it may be a simpler story compared to other visual novels in the series, its themes of female empowerment and sexism in the Middle Ages are timely and impactful. Though the story's potential outcomes are similar, the journey to get there is full of engaging characters, stunning visuals, and a captivating storyline. Overall, Twilight's Crown is a lovely addition to the Time Princess series, and I look forward to seeing what other noblebright stories the developers have in store for us.


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