Sariel’s Birthday Story Sale | Year 1 – In the Hands of the Devil | Ikémen Prince | Event Review

In the hands of the devil – a wickedly sexy birthday story for Rhodolite’s devil of the court. Considering Sariel’s route hasn’t yet been released, I was pleasantly surprised by the deep intimacy and thrilling excitement of ‘In the Hands of the Devil’…

Event Name: Sariel’s Birthday – Year 1
Event Type: Story Sale (Birthday)
Event End: 1st February 2022 (09:59 AM JST)

If you’re unfamiliar with Birthday Story Sales, then I’ll briefly summarise these events — around the time of each love interest’s birthday, the Ikemen Series games will often release an exclusive story that takes place on that character’s birthday.

These stories will only be available for a limited time (although they usually bring them back each year alongside the latest birthday story release), and you will need to purchase these stories via the in-game store.

In Ikemen Prince, the stories are purchased with ‘Diamonds’ – an in-game resource that can technically be accumulated for free via log-in bonuses and the completion of ‘Mission Boards’, but is often purchased with real currency.

Typically, there are several different set options available – in this case, there are three sets: Premium, Deluxe, and Mini. The main difference between these options is the number of avatar items included, and whether you receive a version of the story in MC’s POV (i.e. written from the protagonist’s perspective, as in the main character routes), or ‘His POV’ (i.e. written from the perspective of the love interest, as in ‘His Side Stories’).

For this event, there are three sets available:

  • Mini Set (680 Diamonds):
    • Photo & 3-Star Card (Beauty: 130)
    • Story in MC’s POV
    • 3-Star Avatar Attire: Sariel B-day Ribbon (Beauty: 100)
  • Deluxe Set (1200 Diamonds):
    • Photo & 3-Star Card (Beauty: 130)
    • Story in His POV
    • 4-Star Avatar Attire: Sariel B-day Dress (Beauty: 140)
    • 3-Star Avatar Attire: Sariel B-day Ribbon (Beauty: 100)
  • Premium Set (2800 Diamonds):
    • Photo & 3-Star Card (Beauty: 130)
    • Story in MC’s POV
    • Story in His POV
    • 5-Star Avatar Decoration: B-day Year 1 Sariel (Beauty: 400)
    • 4-Star Avatar Attire: Sariel B-day Dress (Beauty: 140)
    • 3-Star Avatar Attire: Sariel B-day Ribbon (Beauty: 100)

Photo & Card: Each of the three available sets comes with the event-exclusive photo and 3-Star card, featuring the CG that appears in the middle of the story. I personally love this CG — It’s sexy, intimate, and a little bit dangerous – which is perfect for Sariel’s character design. It fits perfectly into the story, too, and the moment where it’s revealed is definitely the highlight of the scene. I highly recommend it for Sariel fans!

Story Review

In the hands of the devil – a.k.a. Sexy, sexy Sariel. I’ve been on the fence about his character, but now I’m all in. This birthday story was thrilling, spicy, and intriguing – hinting at future plot reveals for this mysterious, shadowy minister.

Without spoiling anything, this story cleverly shows players exactly what tropes, allegories, and archetypes to expect in Sariel’s eventual route release – and if ‘In the Hands of the Devil’ is anything to go by, then I’m excited for what’s to come.

But, because Sariel’s main route hasn’t been released yet, he and Belle aren’t a couple by the time this story takes place. This means they don’t progress too far in any romantic (read: spicy) moments, but this didn’t stop it from somehow being hotter than many scenes I’ve read where MC and the LI do go all the way.

If you like sadistic, dominant love interests and BDSM-themed spicy scenes, then you’ll absolutely enjoy this birthday story. It also made me much more interested in playing his route, as I feel the currently-available routes haven’t yet delved too far into Sariel’s character, so I didn’t know that much about him until I read these event stories.

All in all, ‘In the Hands of a Devil’ is a sexy, compelling birthday story that I highly recommend for both hardcore Sariel fans and the simply curious…

Ratings
Pre-romantic development story, so there aren’t any love confessions or particularly sweet scenes – but there are some moments that show their affection and budding feelings for each other.
Doesn’t fade to black, but they also don’t progress “all the way” during the spicy climax of the scene – however, it’s still incredibly intimate and sexy, despite being pre-romantic development.

MC’s POV: It was incredibly sexy to read MC’s reaction to the things Sariel said and did, and reading from her perspective allowed me to feel more immersed in the scene. If you’re a self-insert otome fan and prefer to be on the masochistic, submissive side of the dynamic, then you’ll likely prefer to read this story from MC’s POV.

I also liked that she didn’t feel scared of Sariel at any point. She trusts him completely, so even when he was “interrogating” her, she knew he would never actually hurt her (unless she wanted him to, I imagine), and she could sense the affection in his actions.

They didn’t need to explain any of this however, as it’s obvious in the unspoken way they communicate with each other. Not only was this scene spicy (with some beautiful ‘forbidden romance’ themes), but it also felt pretty wholesome, specifically due to MC and Sariel’s deep level of trust, care, and mutual understanding.

Unfortunately, the nuance and complexity to their relationship only became so apparent to me after reading Sariel’s perspective, so I do feel that some of this might be lost if you only read MC’s POV. However, this was the version of the story that made me bump the spicy rating up to a four, so it still has its own appeal, even if it doesn’t quite so obviously display the intricacies of their budding relationship dynamic.

Tl;dr – Gratuitously sexy. Highly recommend.

“So, am I correct in saying that my birthday present will be… a captive beauty?”

– Sariel Noir (In the Hands of the Devil – Ikemen Prince)

Sariel’s POV: I found it interesting to read from Sariel’s POV and learn more about his personality and backstory. There are some hints to his past (and present) that aren’t too obvious in MC’s POV, and it further demonstrates the types of tropes, plot points, and archetypes to expect in his route – all of which are themes I love – particularly the ‘forbidden love’ aspect.

In regards to the spicy scene, there wasn’t the same level of immersion, but I did enjoy reading the appeal of their power dynamic through Sariel’s eyes – in other words, what he enjoys about being dominant over MC. Despite the ‘wickedness’ that’s often associated with his character, there’s an intriguing level of trust and care between the two of them that adds further depth to the intimacy explored during these moments, even in situations that aren’t inherently intimate or sexy.

Furthermore, this trust is ever-present in their interactions, which is a positive, wholesome element of BDSM that is often neglected in erotic stories. I get the feeling that whoever wrote ‘In the Hands of the Devil’ actually understands what it’s like to engage in these activities, as the way it was written felt authentic, respectful and consequently more compelling.

Tl;dr – Intriguing sneak peek at Sariel’s personality and backstory. This version made me much more interested in his character, and much more excited for his future route release. It also adds more nuance to the version in MC’s POV, making me enjoy that version all the more for having read this one.

Recommendation

If you’re interested in getting to know Sariel’s character, the version in his POV did a better job of hinting at his past, personality, and future route experience. It also delves more deeply into the dynamic he shares with MC, and I enjoyed reading about the way he views her.

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in the sexy climax of the scene and fully indulging in the spiciness, then I recommend reading it in MC’s POV. It was definitely the steamier option of the two, as reading from the protagonist’s perspective lets you properly immerse yourself in the scene.

If diamonds aren’t an issue, then I recommend getting both versions of the story — I found reading both perspectives intriguing, as neither character could fully elaborate on the other’s thoughts and feelings, so there was a unique element to each POV.

However, if you only want one version of the story, then I’d say I preferred MC’s POV, as it had the most gratuitous spicy appeal. Plus, any hints at Sariel’s character in this event story will eventually be revealed in a future route release, so you won’t be missing much by not reading them now.

Final Thoughts

The story ‘In the Hands of the Devil’ isn’t particularly long, but it is rich. I got a lot out of both POV’s and, despite being set pre-romantic development, I have a feeling this is one of those memorable stories I’ll be re-reading over and over again. I’ll be especially interested to return to this story after Sariel’s route is released, to see just how much foreshadowing is incorporated into this birthday special.

In short, I enjoyed this story sale a lot, and I think it’s worth spending the diamonds to at least get the Mini set, especially if you’re curious about Sariel’s character – or you simply want some more spicy content. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Sariel, but after reading this story I’m convinced he’s going to be one of my favourites.

If you want both versions of the story, but you’re not worried about the birthday chibi, then it’s worth noting that purchasing both the Mini and Deluxe sets comes to a lower total amount than purchasing only the Premium set. As such, I recommend buying the Mini and Deluxe sets (total cost: 1880 Diamonds), rather than the Premium Set (cost: 2800 Diamonds), as you’ll save 920 Diamonds this way!

If you’ve decided to buy one of these birthday sets, then remember that there’s a ‘Diamond Set Sale’ going on in the store at the moment, which gives you 10,000 diamonds, plus an exclusive 5-Star Sariel card. These birthday-themed cards have high Beauty Scores (especially if you purchase more than one), so they’re particularly useful in Salons.

As for the Spotlight Gacha – I mentioned this in my review of Nokto’s Birthday Events, but I don’t think it’s worth spending diamonds on. It doesn’t feature any event-exclusive cards, instead just offering Sariel’s standard gacha cards with increased drop rates. This would be fine if you could still use standard gacha tickets, but because it’s technically an event gacha and not the standard banner, your standard gacha tickets won’t be applicable.

I recommend saving up standard gacha tickets for the standard gacha cards on the standard gacha banner, and keeping your diamonds for event-exclusive cards, premium attire, and the many other better, rarer things you can spend them on.

Recommendation: For Sariel fans who want to experience both sides of this dangerously sexy dynamic, I’d recommend purchasing both the Mini and Deluxe sets. Unless you particularly want the 5-Star Avatar Chibi Decoration, I wouldn’t recommend the Premium Set, as it’s significantly more expensive than purchasing both the Mini and Deluxe sets separately.

For the budget-conscious, and/or those who want to completely immerse themselves in the sexy side of this story, I recommend the Mini Set – this was my favourite version of the story, and it’s the cheapest set option. For players who still want the spice, but are more curious about the intrigue surrounding Sariel’s character, I’d recommend the Deluxe set, as it gave more insight into Sariel’s character and backstory, piquing my interest in his eventual route release.

More Info

Character Name: Sariel Noir
Game name: Ikémen Prince: Beauty and Her Beast | イケメン王子 美女と野獣の最後の恋
Developer: CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Publisher: CYBIRD / Ikémen Series
Platform: Android, iOS
Age Rating: 17+ / Mature
More information: here!

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