It’s almost time for New Years and you know what that means! It’s time for champagne, resolutions and looking forward to the new year. But what if instead of bringing in the New Year at midnight, you brought in a New Prince?
In Midnight Cinderella that is exactly what happens. You play a commoner of Wysteria who is chosen to become the next Princess and eventual Queen of Wysteria. One of the first items on your agenda as the new Princess is to choose a Prince who will become your Prince Consort.
Published by Cybird, a Japanese video game studio, Midnight Cinderella offers 7 different suitors each with their own personalities. There’s a wide variety of archetypes represented from Alyn, the quintessential knight in shining armor, to Louis the somewhat standoffish Duke. In choosing a Prince, shenanigans ensue and the Princess must choose between following her heart or doing what’s in the best interest of her country.
First the good: I love the premise of the story. Call it cliche, but I adore basically any story where a regular girl grows into Princess-hood. I also love the variety of suitors. For me, more is definitely merrier. Players are able to create an avatar for themselves, and it includes the option for lovely dark skin. While there are in-game purchases for Midnight Cinderella in the form of coins, they are reasonably priced being about a penny per coin. Also, at the beginning of the game, players are given almost enough tickets to complete an entire story.
After those points, however, the game starts to go downhill.
For instance, the coins themselves are pretty reasonably priced, but the items bought with the coins can be pricey. A few of the outfits and extra ticket packages can cost upwards of 10 dollars. Regarding tickets, 5 are awarded for free once a day. That’s it. 5 tickets are enough for half a chapter and there are about 10 chapters per story. So once the free tickets are used, it’s a slow waiting game to finish a single story much less play a different one.
There is a party aspect to this game. Players collect items to make their avatars more graceful or beautiful and compete against other avatars. Winning these competitions allows your avatar to be more graceful and having more expensive items allows your avatar to accumulate beauty. These competitions are only an issue, when not having high enough grace or beauty can impede your ability to play the game.
In between some chapters, there are “Royal Challenges” that players must pass before being able to continue the game. Sometimes, they require a specific item that can be purchased with either the free in-game currency called Bells, or coins. Other times they require your grace and beauty to be above a certain level. There is not a way to progress in the game without completing each Royal Challenge.
Then there is the writing. In my playthrough, I chose Byron the mysterious ruler of the neighboring country Stein. He is the sort of closed off, but deep down has a heart of gold type that I typically love. So I was excited for him to be my Prince. However, it seems the scriptwriters of this particular story had a bad case of “tell, not show.” Throughout the story, instead of feeling like the main character was getting to know Byron during their scenes together, it seemed like other characters were telling me, the player, how Bryon felt about the main character. Over the course of several chapters, I didn’t really feel like the main character had gotten to know Byron at all. In addition, the writing for the main character left something to be desired.
She seemed to be continuously frozen in her own story. When she sees Byron, she freezes. When someone asks her a question she freezes. When she reads a romantic book she freezes. She also sighs for every reason and seems to have trouble completing sentences. On top of this, few of the other characters around her seem to take her seriously. They interrupt her, talk over her and in general treat her as if they were indulging a child rather than speaking to their future sovereign. More often than not, I found myself being frustrated with her responses.
And yes, these very emotional responses are typical in Otome games, however, there’s usually a balance. In this case, the balance was not present.
All in all, I’d give Midnight Cinderella 3 Bells out of 5. The free tickets are nice, however, once they’re gone waiting for new tickets is extra frustrating. Couple this with the unsatisfactory writing, at least for the Byron story? I can’t say this game will be on my list of recommended Otome games. I’m hoping the writing is better for the other stories.