By Jonathan Falu / September 24th, 2016
|Title||Destiny’s Princess War Story, A Love Story|
|Release Date||April 6, 2016|
|Age Rating||18+; no ESRB was given|
Developed and published by Dogenzaka Lab, Destiny’s Princess: A War Story, A Love Story originally released on smartphones, though it’s now available on Steam for $15.99. This being a visual novel, I thought I knew what to expect. It met some expectations, though fell short of a few others, as you’ll soon see.
You play as a young princess named Saya, though you can change her name later. The prologue starts surprisingly dark, with Saya running away from demons in her castle as it burns to the ground, while all the guards and her family are slaughtered. Eventually, she comes across a cursed dagger with a demon inside, and can grant her wish…though at a cost of most of her memories of her father, brother, fiance, her brother’s guard and a mercenary. Not wishing to see herself and everyone else around her dead, she makes the wish, and five people she knew are replaced with generals from a different era. These five bachelors are Yukimura Sanada, Masamune Date, Hanbei Takenaka, Kotaru Fuma and Nobunaga Oda.
The presentation is fairly good. There are lots of well-drawn characters and scenes, accompanied by some good music, as well. Though I do feel the lack of sound effects harms some scenes, especially the more intense ones when facing against a demon. Transitions at the end of the chapter and being asked to save also feel a bit off, as the save point is abruptly shoved into your face. That being said, saving is relatively quick with six slots, and does show the affection levels for the character you are wooing. It’s very helpful when you want to see the other ending you missed out on.
Since this is a visual novel, there’s not much interactive gameplay. Rather than be set in a single story with multiple choices to accumulate affection for the ending/character choice, like in Hakkuoki and Fate/Stay Night, this game gives you the option to choose which character you want. The story is slightly different with a focus on that character, as well, with Nobunaga containing the most spoilers regarding the mystery; even the game recommends you play it later. Each route lasts eight chapters with two endings, lasting three to four hours per route. Once you get at least one ending, you will also be able to unlock a character’s date scenario, and a sequel. These are very short, but add a few more minutes of entertainment to see more of your favorite bachelor.
The most you can do is choose from options in dialogue. For each best choice, you can raise the approval of one of your bachelors, which is needed to gain the ending. Not every choice is tailored specifically to trying to impress your boyfriend, as it tries to give the Princess her own thoughts for the situation. This helps make Saya more of a character and gives her a personality beyond just a defenseless damsel waiting for someone to rescue her.
Though some choices do baffle me, like choosing to shout vs yelling. I never understood the difference, but only one choice does raise affection. One thing I felt lacking was more interaction between all of the characters, to see if they can develop without the need for Saya. In addition, the game is definitely much more character-focused, as opposed to focusing more onthe demons and where they are coming from, leaving a weak main story with the demons. The visual novel also rarely describes fights, unless Saya is physically involved, which is rare.
Some routes I did enjoy more than others. Yukimura’s had the least amount of spoilers, and mostly deals with the conflict of him and Saya falling in love when, well, they are siblings. Technically he replaced her dead brother, so they are not related by blood. It’s mostly tied with vague memories. It fell apart a bit thanks to the repetitive jokes regarding the two calling each other a tanuki and a weasel. Not only that, but, because it had the least amount of spoilers, it hardly went over things with the demons.
Masamune is probably my favorite route, despite the character feeling a bit generic. It follows their love as he tries to become more noticed by the army to win Saya’s hand in marriage. However, he also teaches Saya about archery, leading to the main character actually being involved in fighting at one point. I like characters in romances where both lovers are active, as it doesn’t have the need for one to solely be the hero, while the other constantly needs to be rescued from everything. Though I do admit, ending B features a bit of near-rape and Masamune saving her nearly undoes all of what I liked; the A ending fixed that at least. There’s mutual trust and respect that forms between them, making me enjoy it all the more.
Hanbei’s route involves him kind of being a dick. He does at least have some decent reasoning for his actions, as he is fated to die and doesn’t want anyone to be sad for him. Not only did he replace Saya’s fiance, who was also ill and dying, but Hanbei himself was going to die anyway. Aside from bringing up an interesting question, I didn’t find his route all too interesting. Overall it’s harmless and still worth a recommendation.
Kotaru’s was… interesting. He comes off as a bit of a jerk, but more childish than anything else. Given his development and conflicts with the princess, his route provided some good entertainment I would expect from a hired ninja. Admittedly, he can be kinda creepy at times, always popping in on the princess, but he is amusing. It does go into dark parts here and there, though when dealing with demons and ninjas, that’s honestly expected. His route also has the second-most amount of spoilers, and best left for last, or near last if you intend to go for Nobunaga.
Nobunaga’s route, however, was one I did not enjoy playing, nor wanted to keep playing. It’s definitely the one that has the most spoilers, with twists I did not see coming but which do make sense. It kind of has the atmosphere I expect from a route dating Nobunaga, who I often hear referred to as The Demon King, and punch in the face in other games. Saya even develops in one of the endings in a surprising way, far different than the other routes. And I would praise it if Nobunaga’s route didn’t involve him, well…let’s just say it involves a subject that is poorly handled. Though, honestly, I didn’t feel this route damaged the entire experience, as I was still able to enjoy some of the other routes just fine. The difference is, if asked, I would play those routes again. Not so for Nobunaga.
Overall, Destiny’s Princess is a fairly good and well-written visual novel, though it does suffer from being a bit rushed. You can probably finish each route in three to four hours. There’s enough good content here for me to enjoy myself. Just be aware it is much more character-focused. And if you liked everything described about said characters, this game won’t be a mistake to buy! Although if you are like me, you’ll likely be stalking for sales.
Review Copy Provided By Publisher
Destiny’s Princess: A War StoryDogenzaka Labvisual novel