Cinderella Phenomenon | Game Review
Unravel the mysteries of your past as you search for a way to break the curse that stripped you of your life as the Crown Princess of Angielle. The balance between good and evil has been disrupted as fairies, witches, and humans wage war, sparking a widespread phenomenon known as the Fairytale Curse. Inspired by the classic stories, these curses are unique to each victim, with highly specific conditions to meet in order to break them.
A victim of the Cinderella curse, your task is to complete three good deeds by your birthday. Sounds simple, right? Perhaps… if that were all there was to this story. Caught in a web of secrets, magic, and mystery, it’s up to you to find the pervasive truth behind the scenes and bring a stop to the war.
This may seem like a heavy burden for a young princess to bear, but, rest assured, you won’t have to do it alone. Five mysterious (and handsome) men are available to help. However, in exchange, you’ll need to help them battle their own affliction, as they struggle to break free from their own fairytale curse…
- Extensive, polished game available for free.
- Creative spin on classic fairy tales.
- Five love interests available, each with good and bad endings.
Could be improved
- None of the good endings felt like a true ‘happily ever after’; there was always an element of tragedy.
- No voicing – text, visuals, background music, and sound effects only.
“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 to terms with her new life and step-family. Cold-hearted and bitter, Lucette’s life is once again turned upside-down by the Fairytale Curse, she is thrown into a battle to regain her crown in a fractured kingdom where nothing is as it seems…”– Cinderella Phenomenon’s Steam Page
When I first came across Cinderella Phenomenon, I’ll be honest, my first thought was, “Not another fairy tale otome game.” However, once I started playing, I quickly realised that my preconception was completely misguided. While tales of fairies, witches, and princes are commonplace in the romance genre, Dicesuki has managed to produce a new, creative take on these familiar tales… all within the scope of a free game.
Cinderella Phenomenon takes place in the fictional world of Angielle, where witches and fairies are responsible for maintaining the balance between good and evil. However, this balance has been disturbed by a human storyteller who portrayed the witches as wicked villains and fairies as benevolent heroes. As a result of these stories, humans began to fear, and therefore hate, witches – their once mutual respect turning to hostility and violence. Now, the witches have found a way to punish the humans who turned on them: Fairytale Curses.
Main Character (MC): You play as the Crown Princess of Angielle, whose name is customisable but has a default setting of Lucette. Lucette’s backstory is largely a mystery at the beginning of the game, and a large portion of the main plot’s intrigue revolves around uncovering her past, and how it ties in with the other events of the game.
In addition to the love interests, Lucette has also been cursed; the Cinderella curse. You’ve been tasked with fulfilling three good deeds by your birthday in order to restore your life to what it once was. This may not seem like a difficult task, but, for Lucette, this seems impossible.
Cinderella Phenomenon’s MC is one of my all-time favourites. Otome protagonists are often pure-hearted and exceedingly kind, their positive attitude winning the hearts of everyone they meet. Lucette, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. She’s cold, distant, and often just downright mean. Rather than healing the love interests with her unwavering optimism, it’s up to the other characters to help Lucette overcome the trauma of her past and thaw her frozen heart.
That’s not to say that I dislike the classic otome heroine, but it is refreshing to see the roles reversed in Cinderella Phenomenon. I enjoyed watching Lucette grow in every route, no matter how many times I played, and, in my opinion, more variety in otome protagonists can only be a good thing.
Story & Gameplay
There aren’t any complicated gameplay mechanics in Cinderella Phenomenon as it’s a story-based visual novel made with Ren’Py. There is a tutorial available, but, essentially, you read the story and click to proceed. Occasionally, you’re prompted to make a choice that determines what the protagonist will say or do next and these choices will determine which ending you receive.
There is also an optional ‘right-choice indicator’ – turned on by default – which prompts a glowing diamond to appear after you make a decision, but only if you chose the option that will lead to a good ending. Personally, I played without indicator for my initial run of each route, as I wanted to see which ending I got for my instinctive choices. However… I got the bad ending every time, and inevitably had to re-play the route with the indicator turned on so I could achieve the good ending instead.
I like that this indicator is available, as it allows players to save before any choice and then check if their selection was correct. If you save regularly, it’s easy to go back and re-play chapters as necessary to collect all of the endings and read all of the potential responses from other characters. There are achievements and CGs for each ending, so if you like to go for total completion of a game, the indicator and large save capacity make this easy to accomplish.
Considering that Cinderella Phenomenon is available in full for no cost at all, I was amazed at the length and creativity of the story. Each route is completely different from the others, despite sharing a common plot. I learned something new with each playthrough, and, as I could quickly return to old saves to make different choices, I didn’t have to replay anything I’d already seen before, so I could collect every ending without it getting too repetitive.
Route order: The main plot itself is intriguing, with many layers of mysteries that slowly unravel over each available route. I had no idea how deep the story would go until I was already well into the game, so it’s worth playing each option, even if you’re not too interested in the romanceable character. The game developers have provided their recommended play order based on how much of the overall plot is uncovered in the route:
I mostly followed the recommended order – I just swapped Rod and Karma around because I wanted to play the character I found most intriguing first (and boy does Karma make a strong first impression!). Fritz and Waltz are locked until you complete two of the three initially available routes, and I definitely recommended leaving Waltz for last.
There are a total of five love interests in Cinderella Phenomenon, each with a unique backstory, personality, and curse they’re trying to break. Waltz was my favourite as his route addresses all the mysteries presented in the common plot and his story felt the most typical of a fairy tale romance. However, Karma is a very close second with his glitz, glamour, and wiles. With such a diverse selection of love interests, it won’t be difficult to find a character who appeals to your tastes.
Rod Benedikt Widdensov is Lucette’s step-brother and Prince of Angielle. He’s mute, using a plush bunny given to him by a fairy to speak, and seems to hold nothing but disdain for the protagonist. But, as with all good tsunderes, once you poke and prod at his sensitive side, he rewards you with a blush to die for and a reluctant affection that eventually paves the way to his true nature, that of a kind and noble prince.
While he’s noted as the first recommended route, this doesn’t mean his story is boring or uneventful. His route actually sheds the most light on the personal, family-related drama in Cinderella Phenomenon. If you can look past the whole ‘step-sibling’ aspect of their relationship, Rod’s route features a unique storyline with a sweet love interest and an interesting curse.
Karma was my first love in Cinderella Phenomenon and, as I mentioned above, he makes a powerful first impression. Mysterious, cunning, and flirtatious; Karma has a dangerous type of allure that only adds to his intriguing aura. If you liked Zen in Mystic Messenger, or Asmodeus from Obey Me, then you’ll likely be interested in Karma, too. Unbound by gender roles, Karma’s charm and beauty is capable of winning over anyone, despite his narcissistic tendencies.
In terms of plot, unfortunately, Karma’s route is probably one of the weakest. I didn’t feel like too much of the underlying mystery was uncovered compared to other routes, and there wasn’t anything particularly unique that his character brought to the story. The main appeal of Karma’s route is Karma himself, so it’s probably just as well his character design is interesting enough to carry the route on its own.
Rumpel was a love interest I desperately wanted to love, but just couldn’t quite get there. I love his character and his personal story was interesting, but he feels more like a comic relief character than a romantic option. Even by the end of his route, I still felt Lucette was more like his friend than his lover.
Despite being one of the most overtly flirtatious characters, Rumpel acts this way with everyone he finds beautiful, making his gestures initially feel insincere. He’s also theatrical in the way he speaks and behaves, so even if his compliments do start to seem more authentic, his over-the-top way of expressing himself still leaves room for doubt about his intentions.
As a comic relief character, however, he serves his purpose. Rumpel’s route was by far the funniest of the five, and I still enjoyed his story for what it was. As with Karma, I felt like his route didn’t particularly focus too much on the common plot, but his own story was enough to make up for this. For an interesting, comedic route, Rumpel is a solid choice – I just wish it could have been a little more romantic, especially considering his flirtatious nature.
Fritz is your personal knight and one of the few people who still believes in your kindness, despite your cold-hearted attitude. He’s loyal, reliable, and would do anything to keep you safe. His route is riddled with secrets, so it’s difficult to describe him without spoiling any of the story, but I will say that Fritz is not all that he seems. While he may appear to be the classic love interest in a romantic tale of a princess and her knight, there’s a well of darkness hiding beneath the surface.
*Spoiler Warning!* I had very mixed feelings about his route, as I liked his Evil Alter Ego a lot more. While I definitely have a soft spot for yanderes, this isn’t the only reason why I fell for the Alter Ego instead of Fritz. The vast majority of the route focuses on interactions between Fritz’s Alter Ego and Lucette, so there are far more opportunities to fall for the evil persona than Fritz himself. I felt that by the time I finished the story, I’d barely gotten to know Fritz, and neither of the available endings felt like a satisfying conclusion for a character who ended up being the most prominent person in the route.
Dicesuki recommend to save Waltz for last and I wholeheartedly agree. His route exposes the last of the secrets in the web of mystery and intrigue surrounding Lucette and Angielle, and it definitely gave the impression of a ‘True’ route. The protagonist’s relationship with Waltz feels the most natural out of all the love interests, so it’s little surprise that he’s a popular fan favourite.
*Spoiler Warning!* As with Fritz, Waltz is one of the two locked routes, which makes it difficult to discuss without spoiling anything. You learn early on that Waltz suffers from the ‘Peter Pan’ curse, turning his body into that of a child, despite actually being an adult. He’s also Lucette’s childhood friend, although this is one of the many mysteries that you have to uncover over the course of the game. I love the dynamic he has with the protagonist, and his ending felt the most like a classic fairy tale, making it a great finale for the overall game.
Cinderella Phenomenon is a fascinating take on popular fairy tales. Packed with compelling stories in a variety of routes, each with multiple endings, there are plenty of hours of gameplay, yet nothing felt repetitive or boring. I was blown away by the depth of the concept, as well as how polished the overall experience was. It definitely didn’t feel like a game I should have been able to play for free.
I loved that Lucette wasn’t the classic, pure-hearted, ‘deredere’ otome protagonist who heals everyone with her kindness. Instead, she needs the other characters to instigate her character growth. She was a believable character with realistic emotions and I enjoyed watching her break free from her loneliness and fear to become an admirable, self-assured princess.
Route recommendations: For a wholesome, youthful romance, I recommend Rod. For a sexy, dramatic romance, I recommend Karma. For someone who will make you laugh and take care of you, I recommend Rumpel. For the long-time favourite trope of a princess and her knight (with a twist), I recommend Fritz. And, for everyone who plays Cinderella Phenomenon, I recommend Waltz.
Waltz’s route was my favourite as the romance felt the most natural. He’s complicated in his own way, but this is largely due to circumstance, rather than his own actions. In terms of personality, he’s a straight-forward, kind, caring guy who just wants Lucette to be happy.
I also loved Karma; I’m a sucker for the trickster archetype and his mysterious, wolfish flirtatiousness juxtaposed with his elegance and beauty combined to produce a unique and interesting character. Surprisingly, I also really enjoyed Rod’s route. I wasn’t expecting to particularly like him, but his story addressed a lot of the conflict stemming from Lucette’s family issues, and I enjoyed the plot more than in some of the other routes.
You’ll like Cinderella Phenomenon if you like: fairy tales with a twist, flawed MCs, uncovering mysteries and secrets, beautiful stained-glass style art, princes, knights, witches, and fairies, being a princess, indie otome games, story-based visual novels without any complicated gameplay.
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