William Shakespeare’s Birthday Story Sale | Episodes I – III | Ikémen Vampire | Event Review

Shakespeare’s Birthday ~ Episodes I-III

Trapped in Ecstasy – November 11 is the birthday of William Shakespeare, and in celebration of his special day, Ikemen Vampire has released Episode III in the ‘Shakespeare’s Birthday’ story sale series, aptly named ‘Trapped in Ecstasy’.

This new story is available for a limited time in Ikemen Vampire’s in-game store, along with the return of Episodes I & II from previous years. This is the first birthday story to be released after Shakespeare’s main route became available, so it’s the first time players can celebrate the occasion after officially becoming a couple.

Event Name: Shakespeare’s Birthday ~Trapped in Ecstasy~
Event Type: Story Sale (Birthday)
Event End: 27th November 2021 (10:00 AM JST)

Each of the three episodes has two set options – Mini and Deluxe – which offer different contents for different price tags. The primary difference is that the story in the Mini set is written from MC’s perspective, whereas the story in the Deluxe set is written in Shakespeare’s POV.

In total, there are six sets to choose from:

  • Episode I ~ Bound to You Tonight (Mini Set)
  • Episode I ~ Bound to You Tonight (Deluxe Set)
  • Episode II ~ A Special Stage for Two (Mini Set)
  • Episode II ~ A Special Stage for Two (Deluxe Set)
  • Episode III ~ Trapped in Ecstasy (Mini Set)
  • Episode III ~ Trapped in Ecstasy (Deluxe Set)

If you’re unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s character in Ikemen Vampire, then the names of each of these stories should serve as a hint at the forbidden nature of his romance. I especially love the title for Episode II, ‘A Special Stage for Two’, as it ties in the theatrical elements of his character with the yandere themes that we can see across all three episodes.

When I read his route, Shakespeare instantly became my new Ikemen Vampire favourite – so I decided to buy the full collection of his birthday stories this year. To help you choose which sets to buy, or not to buy, I’ve written a series of mini-reviews for each option, including a comparison of each of the stories, from both perspectives…

Episode III ~ Trapped in Ecstasy

Mini Set – 580 Diamonds

Set contains: Trapped in Ecstasy Story (MC’s POV) and Photo; 2 x avatar attire (Butterfly Wings Hair Clip and Heels).

Episode III is by far my favourite of the story options – it’s the first to be released after his route became available, so MC and Shakespeare are already a couple when the story takes place. There’s a lot of playful, flirtatious banter that’s only possible due to their close relationship, and it’s the only episode where we get to see Will blush (important).

It felt longer than Episode II, and maybe even Episode I, as well – with a delightfully spicy scene towards the end. The tantalising temptation that comes with two people who are interested in each other, but not yet a couple, is entertaining in its own way – but I generally find these side stories to be more satisfying when they’re set post-romantic development, especially when it comes to the spicier scenes.

Note: One thing I noted in Episode II was that Shakespeare’s signature poetic manner of speech wasn’t as pronounced, but the Elizabethan English seems to have made a comeback for Episode III, and I definitely prefer his stories when they’re written this way.

This version of ‘Trapped in Ecstasy’ follows MC’s perspective, rather than Will’s and while I did enjoy both versions, I have to say I preferred the story in his POV. However, the price tag is substantially different – much more so than any difference in overall reading experience, so if you’re really trying to save your Diamonds, then I’d recommend this Mini set instead.

Deluxe Set – 1,800 Diamonds

Set contains: Trapped in Ecstasy Story (His POV), Photo, and Card; 3 x avatar attire and decorations (Shakespeare’s Smiling Face – His Avatar, Birthday Cake Plushie – Decoration, Butterfly Wings Dress – Avatar Attire)

As with the mini set, ‘Trapped in Ecstasy’ is my favourite of the three available stories. I did prefer reading it from Shakespeare’s perspective, simply because there’s more of the poetic style of writing I associate with Shakespeare’s character – and reading his internal irritations as he tries to maintain a placid mask made the ‘gossiping’ scene all the more entertaining.

Unfortunately, the CG in Episode III is my least favourite of the available sets. The others all include some sort of ribbon, which is one of his signature themes, and I’m not sure why Episode III didn’t follow this pattern (although I suppose variety is a good thing, and different variations on ribbon-bondage might get a little boring after a while… actually, scratch that, I’m definitely not bored, and I want the ribbons back!) Still, the actual story more than makes up for the CG not being my favourite, and it’s not a bad CG – I just missed the ribbons…

Final Verdict

‘Trapped in Ecstasy’ is the story that made me swoon the most. Shakespeare has a delightfully intense style of love, and his passion is most evident here – primarily because it’s the only story set after he and MC have become a couple, so he can feel free to let his entire personality loose, no holding back.

Between the two sets, I’d recommend the Deluxe version, as I preferred reading the story in Shakespeare’s POV, and I liked the attire in the deluxe set more. This set also comes with a card (with the same art as the CG), but it’s only a 3-Star card, so it’s not particularly powerful for love battles, and therefore most likely to be used as the card set for your home screen.

On the other hand, if you’re solely interested in the story, then the difference between the two POVs wasn’t distinct enough that I think it’s worth the huge gap in the cost. If you’re trying to save diamonds, then the version from MC’s perspective is still enjoyable, so in this case I’d recommend the Mini set instead.

If you really don’t mind spending diamonds, however, and you like to collect avatar attire, then I recommend getting both the Mini and Deluxe sets, as the attire goes well together, including a new facial expression for Will’s avatar, an entire butterfly-themed outfit for your avatar, and a chibi decoration of Will with a birthday cake.

Episode II ~ A Special Stage for Two

Mini Set – 580 Diamonds

Set contains: A Special Stage for Two Story (MC’s POV) and Photo; 2 x avatar attire (White and Lavender Fascinator, Ankle-Strap Heels with Ruffled Socks).

The story in Episode II – A Special Stage for Two – was my least favourite of the three available options. It’s written as a sequel to Episode I, and supposedly set a year later, but MC still appears to be at the mansion without having fallen in love with anyone, so I’m not sure why she’s still there.

The story still features Shakespeare’s signature style of romance, as he whisks MC off into a secret world for just the two of them, but it felt shorter than Episodes I or III, and significantly less intriguing. In Episode III, MC and Shakespeare are already a couple, and in Episode I, Shakespeare’s mystery is introduced for the first time. But, in Episode II, there’s no prior romantic development, yet we know who he is, so there’s no mystery, either.

The premise was much the same as Episode I, as were all the plot devices, with Will whisking you off from some sort of social function to be alone with you in a mysterious moonlit moment. It felt like the basic story structure had been copied from Episode I, but the writing style was much plainer, without the Elizabethan English, and it just didn’t quite have the same flair.

I did love the CG, and the moment in the scene where it appears was definitely a highlight, but it just felt like the writers copied and pasted the format from Episode I, removed the iambic pentameter, made it shorter, and then didn’t add anything unique to make it shine on its own (other than the CG).

Deluxe Set – 1,800 Diamonds

Set contains: A Special Stage for Two Story (His POV), Photo, and Card; 3 x avatar attire and decorations (Special Birthday Outfit for Shakespeare – His Avatar, Happy Birthday Plushie – Decoration, Lavender Off-shoulder Ruffled Dress – Avatar Attire)

I enjoyed this version of ‘A Special Stage for Two’ more than the one written from MC’s perspective, but it still lacked that signature drama to Shakespeare’s way of speaking. There just wasn’t any poetry to his lines, giving it a much less theatrical feel than Episodes I & III, and even his main route.

His perspective did add more to the story than MC’s POV, as his inner monologue revealed more of his duplicitous nature – which MC didn’t really seem to acknowledge or notice so much in this episode as she did in Episode I. It still felt shorter than the other two episodes, however, and I just wasn’t as enthralled as I usually am when reading Shakespeare’s stories.

I also noticed that the set name in the store is labelled, ‘A Special Stage for Two’, but the story appears in the saved story collection as ‘A Secret Stage for Two’. There was also another typo during the climactic scene where the CG appears, (the word ‘behind’ was spelled ‘behnd’), which did put a little bit of a damper on it, and the overall experience just felt a little less polished than Episodes I & III.

Final Verdict

This was my least favourite of the three Episodes, mostly due to the plainer writing style. There were also a couple of typos, and on the whole it just didn’t feel quite on the same level as Episodes I and III. I do really love the CG (I’d even say it’s my favourite of the three episodes), so if you’re an avid Shakespeare collector, it may be worth purchasing for the art, but otherwise I don’t recommend either of the sets in Episode II.

Episode I ~ Bound to You Tonight

Mini Set – 580 Diamonds

Set contains: Bound to You Tonight Story (MC’s POV) and Photo; 2 x avatar attire (Hair Band and Earrings).

Episode I, ‘Bound to You Tonight’, serves as an intriguing introduction to Shakespeare’s character. If you haven’t played Shakespeare’s route yet, this is a great way to get a feel for his character and appeal before committing to his entire story. If you have played his route, it was nostalgic to see him from the ‘early days’ perspective, when he’s still shrouded in mystery – so it’s still an enjoyable story, either way.

One of the things I love most about Shakespeare’s character in Ikemen Vampire is the beautifully poetic style of writing that tends to accompany him – with the inclusion of iambic pentameter and other homages to the classic ‘Shakespearean’ style. Despite this being the first of his birthday stories, it still reads in much the same way as his main route, and I just can’t get enough of the delightfully theatrical tone as it blends perfectly with the overarching melodramatic themes of the game as a whole.

As the appeal of this story is largely rooted in Shakespeare’s aura of enigmatic mystery, it makes sense to read it from MC’s perspective. In this version, MC notices just enough of his facial expressions and behaviours to pick up on some of his core personality traits, even when he’s being particularly tricky, without giving away the entirety of his true intentions.

If you haven’t played Shakespeare’s route yet, I think this version is better at giving you a taste for his character and style of romance, without spoiling the surprise of what he’s truly thinking behind the mask.

Deluxe Set – 1,400 Diamonds

Set contains: Bound to You Tonight Story (His POV), Photo, and Card; 2 x avatar attire and decorations (Birthday Present Plushie – Decoration, Dress for Shakespeare’s Birthday – Avatar Attire)

The events of the story are essentially the same between the two versions of ‘Bound to You Tonight’, so I’d actually say I preferred reading it from MC’s perspective. As I mentioned in the Mini set review, reading the story from MC’s POV adds to the elements of mystery and intrigue that make Shakespeare’s character so appealing in the first place.

That being said, for players who aren’t familiar with his character, getting more of an insight into his inner monologue may be somewhat of a shock, which could end up making his character more intriguing than if he were just a curious trickster. The sheer disconnect between the way he behaves and the way he truly feels is much more intense than it originally seems, and, at least in my case, when I first discovered it, I couldn’t wait to read more.

If, like me, you enjoy the writing style that comes with Shakespeare in Ikemen Vampire, then you can read this all the way through in his version (aside from MC’s lines), as his voice is carried into the narration, too. Furthermore, this set is a little cheaper than the other Deluxe options – due to having less avatar attire – so it’s a solid cheaper option if you’re more interested in the story than the attire.

Final Verdict

In the end, while it’s a tough call, I’d say the version of the story in the Mini set is the one I’d recommend. The difference in price between the two options is hefty, and I actually found I enjoyed the story more when it was written in MC’s perspective.

For players who haven’t yet played his route, Episode I works well as a teaser trailer, highlighting the appeal of Shakespeare’s character in a compelling little parcel on its own. However, if you’ve already read Shakespeare’s route, then you’ll likely know the sorts of things he would be thinking anyway, so it might be preferable to read from his perspective, as it felt reminiscent of how he behaved in his own route once his mask fell, the illusion shattered, and MC discovered his true feelings for the first time.

I’m having trouble making a clear recommendation because, honestly, both versions of the stories are great in their own way. In the end, it comes down to how much you’re willing to spend, and whether you’d rather maintain Shakespeare’s aura of mystery, or enjoy the jarring feeling of discovering the mismatch between his pretty, perfectly-crafted mask and his true, typically bitter and twisted, inner thoughts.

Recommendations

Episode III was my favourite in the series, with the Deluxe version of this set being my number one recommendation overall, followed closely by the Mini set of the same episode. Next is Episode I, and I preferred the story from MC’s perspective in this episode, so I’d suggest getting the Mini set over the Deluxe, unless you’re particularly interested in the card and avatar attire that comes with the more expensive option.

There are special bonuses available if you purchase all of the sets, but be aware that this means all six sets – in other words, both the mini and deluxe versions of each of the three episodes. Remember also to check that you haven’t already purchased one of these stories in the past, as prior purchases will still count towards the full set bonuses, and you wouldn’t want to accidentally buy the same set twice.

Oona’s Ranking:

  1. Episode III ~ Trapped in Ecstasy ~ (Deluxe)
  2. Episode III ~ Trapped in Ecstasy ~ (Mini)
  3. Episode I ~ Bound to You Tonight ~ (Mini)
  4. Episode I ~ Bound to You Tonight ~ (Deluxe)
  5. Episode II ~ A Special Stage for Two ~ (Deluxe)
  6. Episode II ~ A Special Stage for Two ~ (Mini)

More Info

Character: William Shakespeare
Game Name: Ikémen Vampire: Temptation in the Dark | イケメンヴァンパイア・偉人たちと恋の誘惑
Developer: CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Publisher: CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Platform: Mobile
Age Rating: 17+ / Mature
More information: here!

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