[Full Game Review] English Otome- Cinderella Phenomenon

Cinderella Phenomenon is a fantasy English language visual novel from indie game developers, Dicesuki. Like their previous game, Locked Heart, Cinderella Phenomenon borrows elements from common fairytales, but with a bit of a twist! Follow Lucette, a cold-hearted princess, who finds herself the victim of a witch’s curse. In order to break her curse Lucette must complete three good deeds, but that’s easier said than done for this selfish royal. This game is completely free and is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Steam!

At long last, I finally finished playing through Dicesuki’s newest visual novel Cinderella Phenomenon! It took me about two weeks, but I cleared all of the endings, its been awhile since I last cleared a game and now I remember why… it takes forever! But, this game was worth it!! I loved Locked Heart, but, Cinderella Phenomenon is on a whole different level!

Disclaimer: As always while the thoughts and opinions presented in this review are my own, the images and screenshots were created by Dicesuki Games. If you are interested in playing this game, download it from the Cinderella Phenomenon itch.io page or from Steam!! 

Story|Gameplay & Features|Art|Characters|Final Thoughts


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Story

Four years after the end of the Great War and the loss of her mother, Crown Princess Lucette of Angielle is still struggling to come with her new life and step-family. Cold-hearted and bitter, Lucette fails to recognize the suffering of those around her as she is consumed by grief and resentment. But Lucette’s life is once again turned upside down when she is given the Fairytale Curse.

Join Lucette as she goes from riches to rags, and journeys to regain her life and break her curse.

Official Description

Fairytales have been done over and over again since the dawn of time, there are so many adaptions and re-imaginings of the classic tales out there that it’s hard to imagine anyone coming up with anything original. However, I was impressed with the way the writers handled such an over done premise. Rather than rehashing the same stories, Dicesuki re-purposed the fairytales for an original concept, the Fairytale Curses. This allowed the team a bit more freedom with the existing narratives, while still retaining the original message of the individual stories. For example, Lucette is given the Cinderella Curse, but her curse is an inversion of the original tale (ie. riches to rags as opposed to rags to riches), its a subtle change, but it makes the world of difference.

However, I had one teeny, tiny complaint, in the game they establish that the fairytales were all created by Grimm… but, at least two of the Fairytale Curses are based on stories from authors other than Grimm… so, chalked it up to artistic license and gave it a pass…

While the majority of the individual routes focuses on Lucette and her chosen love interest breaking their Fairytale Curses, the overarching narrative of the game deals with the balance of magic and the conflict between the witches and fairies that led to the Great War. Again, this is really where the writing shines, rather than relying solely on the source material the writers crafted their own lore surrounding magic in the kingdom of Angielle. It helped lay a stable foundation for the characters and their motivations throughout the game. Each of the routes deals with this aspect of the story in varying degrees; the earlier routes (Rod, Karma, Rumpel) merely hint at the larger conflict, while the later routes (Fritz & Waltz) focus on it in greater detail. The writers did a fantastic job building up this aspect of the plot throughout each of the individual routes, granted that is if you follow the recommended play order: Rod→ Karma→ Rumpel→ Fritz→ Waltz.

Story|Gameplay & Features|Art|Characters|Final Thoughts


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Gameplay & Features

Choose one of five potential love interests to assist Lucette on her journey while also helping them break their own curses. However, at the start of the game both Fritz and Waltz’s routes are locked, and only unlock after the players complete at least two of the three available routes. Each route consists of 10 chapters, the first two chapters comprise the common route, while the subsequent chapters make up the main story. There are a total of ten endings, two per character route (one Bad End & one Good End).

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Periodically, players will be required to make choices that determine the course of the story. Correct choices improve the relationship between Lucette and her chosen love interest and ensure that the player will achieve the Good End, while incorrect answers will lead to players obtaining the Bad Ends. There is a Right Choice Indicator that will let players know when they have made the correct choice, when the player makes the correct choice, a colored crystal will appear in the top right hand corner of the screen. The crystals are color coded for each of the love interests (Rod=Indigo, Karma=Red, Rumpel=Purple, Fritz=Blue, Waltz=Green).

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There are a handful of nifty extras that help make the game a bit more user friendly, especially for folks looking to complete multiple playthroughs of the game: BackAuto PlaySkip, and Fast Forward. The first two are self explanatory, so I won’t go into too much detail about those, however, the biggest lifesavers for multiple playthroughs are the Skip and the Fast Forward features. The Skip feature just lets you skip through the text, but the Fast Forward feature cuts out the middle man and lets you skip between choices. However, the only downside is that it stops after each choice so you have to keep clicking it over and over again…

Last but certainly not least are the Extras!! There are three main extras in Cinderella Phenomenon: the Gallery (view all CGs and in-game images), the Music Room (listen to all of the musical tracks), and the Achievement Page (see all of your unlocked endings).

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Art

In the short time between the release of Locked Heart and the release of Cinderella Phenomenon, Dicesuki made a few stylistic improvements, nothing drastic, but, it was enough.

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The GUI was clean and easy to use and fit well with the whole fairytale theme, especially the stained glass motif used on the title page and the Achievement page. I noticed with Locked Heart that Dicesuki likes to use evolving title screens and they continued that trend with this game. After completing the Good Ends of each route an image of the love interest will replace their respective crystal.

There are two distinct styles used in the game: a sketchy minimalist style and the much more traditional detailed style. The sketchy style is primarily used during the Prologue and Lucette’s Dream sequences and adds a distinct storybook feel to those parts of the game. This is a game about fairytales, so this was a wonderful stylistic choice, a really fun throwback to the original concept. The art in the rest of the game is reminiscent of other visual novels, with detailed backgrounds, CGs, and character sprites. First, I have to say, the backgrounds in this game are stunning, not only are they clean and beautifully rendered, but, each one is full of such rich detail! There are a lot of little details that people tend to overlook, like in the background of Lucette’s room, there are a ton of dolls and I peeped a few Disney Princesses on one of the shelves. It’s stuff like that, that really puts a game over the edge, and trust me that’s just one of the things that I noticed, there were also a few Locked Heart Easter Eggs too, but I’ll leave those for you guys to find!! The CGs were also really pretty to look at, though I will admit there were a few with some wonky angles, to the point that the characters in them looked a bit…off. But, overall, they were great.

The character sprites were gorgeous, not only did all of the main and supporting cast have their own sprites within the game, but there were even sprites for NPCs. Not many developers are willing to go through the trouble of creating sprites for NPCs, let alone multiple variations. Of course, the main character sprites were a step above the rest, each of their sprites had multiple facial expressions and additional poses. There was also this really cool tonal shift thing that they did with the sprites to show the differences in lighting during the different times of the day. At night the sprites and backgrounds used a muted color palette, they also did something similar with flashbacks, in that both the backgrounds and sprites were rendered in black and white.

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Characters

Alright, I plan on writing individual route reviews, so apart from sharing my thoughts on Lucette, I’m going to keep this section as spoiler free as possible. I have a lot to say about the individual routes, but that would require a lot of major plot reveals, especially in the later routes.

2016-09-04 (8)Lucette Riella Britton is the crown Princess of Angielle and the only blood heir of the current King. She has lived a rather sheltered life in the palace, isolated from the rest of the world by her closest confidant, her mother, the former Queen of Angielle. Through her mother’s influence, Lucette developed a rather acidic personality, she’s downright cruel to everyone she meets, including her father and her new step-family. I’m going to be completely honest here, I absolutely hated Lucette when I first started the game. And before you all say anything, I knew going in that she was going to have a change of heart at some point in the story, but dear God, she had no redeeming qualities in those first few chapters. She is a cold-hearted bitch, and mind you I don’t throw that word around lightly. The way she treats her family and the rest of the other characters, is just horrible. So when she was given the Cinderella Curse and stripped of her title, I really didn’t feel all that bad for her, she kind of deserved it… However, there is so much more to Lucette than meets the eye, she is a much more complex character than I gave her credit for. Now, while I’m not making excuses for her behavior, I understand that it’s not completely her fault… so give her a chance, she get’s better. Though, the point where she has her change of heart varies depending on which route you’re on, some sooner than others.

2017-04-04 (19).pngRod is the brother of Emelaigne and Lucette’s younger step-brother. He has the Mermaid Curse, which is based on The Little Mermaid story by Hans Christian Anderson. Due to the conditions of his curse he is mute, so he uses an enchanted stuffed bunny named Sebby to communicate with other people. Rod is a bit blunt, now, he’s not rude like Lucette, not by any stretch of the imagination, but he can come off a bit distant. He’s not one for extreme emotional outbursts, but that doesn’t mean he is emotionless. Rod is very subtle with his feelings, so don’t expect any grand romantic gestures. But, he is such a sweetheart one of my favorite routes in the game!! Note: Rod is Lucette’s step-brother, so I know a few of you might be a little weirded out the romantic aspect of this route. However, they are not blood related, so it’s not incest, also the route addresses the whole sibling thing and I appreciated how well it was handled.

2017-04-04 (45).pngKarma is one of the residents of the Marchen Tavern. He has the Beauty Curse, because of his curse he cross-dresses as a woman. Karma’s curse gave me some serious Ikki vibes, but thankfully he doesn’t act like Ikki! Karma is a very outgoing and friendly person, however, he does not appreciate it when men hit on him while he is in his Miss Karma garb, but can you blame them, he’s gorgeous!! Unlike the other cursed bachelors, Karma is very secretive about his curse. In fact he doesn’t really reveal much of anything about his life prior to being cursed, so he’s a bit of an enigma. This route had one of the saddest Bad End of all the potential love interests… I cried.

2017-04-05 (11).pngRumpel is found injured outside of the Marchen at the start of the game.  He has the Rumpelstiltskin Curse and because of his curse he has a severe case of amnesia, the poor guy doesn’t even remember his own name. However, that doesn’t stop him from hitting on ever woman he sees. I am not a huge fan of flirty characters at the best of times, but Rumpel was especially grating. Every word out of this man’s mouth made me want to punch him in the face, but my megane bias kept me from outright hating him. But, this was my least favorite route in the entire game, his personality was just a huge turn off.

2017-04-04 (32).pngFritz is Lucette’s personal knight. Like just about every knight since the dawn of time, Fritz is earnest, brave, and extremely loyal to Lucette. No matter how mean she is to him, Fritz will just smile. He is the poster boy for the nice guy archetype. When Lucette is cursed, he is the only person to remember her and he spends a good bit of time looking for her. Of course, this means that Fritz is either cursed, a Witch, or a Fairy, since normal people are affected by the conditions of the Fairytale Curses… I’m not going to spoil it for you guys, but just know, Fritz’s route is locked for a reason. His route has some major spoilers, like game altering spoilers, so I highly recommend that you play this route towards the end, but before Waltz!

2017-04-04 (48).pngWaltz is a street magician that Lucette meets while out with Emelaigne in town. He is also one of the residents of the Marchen Tavern. Waltz suffers from the Neverland Curse, which gives him the appearance of a child. He is generally good-natured, but he dislikes it when people treat him like a child because of the way he looks.  Waltz is one of the sweetest guys in the game, but, even this adorable ray of sunshine is hiding some dark secrets. This is one of the darker routes in the game, so be prepared for a whole lot of feels, in both of his ends. Though, I will admit that this is hands down my absolute favorite route in the whole game and I am so glad that I played it last, it was so worth the wait!!

Story|Gameplay & Features|Art|Characters|Final Thoughts

final thoughts

I loved this game so much!! I know I said this in my demo review last year, but for a free game, Dicesuki’s Cinderella Phenomenon puts a lot of commercial releases to shame! The story is engaging, and while fairytale otome games are a dime a dozen, Dicesuki managed to make the premise seem fresh. It’s the subtle stylistic differences that make Cinderella Phenomenon stand out from other fairytale themed otome games on the market.

I was impressed with the overall quality of this game as it is a reflection of how far the Dicesuki team has come since their first game and I am excited to see what other gems they have waiting for us in the future!

Have you played any other Dicesuki games? Have you played Cinderella Phenomenon? What did you think about the game? Let me know what you think in the comments section. If you like what you see, LIKE this post or FOLLOW Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! As always THANK YOU FOR READING!!

Story|Gameplay & Features|Art|Characters|Final Thoughts

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4 thoughts on “[Full Game Review] English Otome- Cinderella Phenomenon

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