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Review: Rose of Winter (Western PC Otoge)

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The Steam Christmas sale was stronger than my self-control, it seems.

TITLE: Rose of Winter
DEVELOPER: Pillow Fight Games
RELEASE DATE: 17th of October 2016
RATING: All ages
GENRES & THEMES: Fantasy; First Love; Dragons; Knights; Western otoge; Fairy Tale setting
PLATFORM: PC

Language the game was played in for this review:
English

Rosemary left her family's farm a year ago to become a Knight in Shining Armor! ... but being a knight is harder than she thought, and she's looking for work at the foot of the perilous Mount Needle. Thankfully, there are four handsome princes here who need an escort through the mountain pass, and Rosemary is just the knight for the job!

As Rosemary, you'll brave fierce beasts and difficult terrain, not to mention the fact that your travelling companion can be a royal pain. But that's okay! Because you're brave and noble and not-at-all distracted by the handsome guy you're bound to protect. You've got the armor, you've got the sword, and you're all ready for a fairytale romance: if the snowstorms and bone-chilling winds don't get in the way.

And maybe these princes aren't quite as charming as you expected...

Source: Official website

This visual novel is considerably different from the ones I usually pick-up; to begin with it's a lot shorter than what I'm used to dealing with, so writing an extensive review would pretty much spoil the entire game. So hey, I've decided to just roll with it and reduce the sections in the review. The formula's a bit different from what you pretties might be used to seeing on this blog, but bear with me. Let's jam!!


The Story

Rose of Winter has a fairly straightforward story. Rosmary is a knight out to make herself known, and to do that she needs jobs. So here she is, at an inn with four would-be customers to choose from: The Prince of Fae, Falkner; Prince Elgandir and his Caretaker, Crow; the Prince of the Dragons, Tirune; and Prince Kuya, of Moonforest. It'll be Rosmary's task to take her chosen prince through the snowy peaks of Mount Needle and deliver them safely to Starlight City, tasting first love for the first time on their way.
And that's pretty much... it  ʅ(´-ω-`)ʃ  . There's no secrets to this game or unexpected turnouts; it's basic to the core. Whatever you do during the character routes you'll be romancing the prince you chose, so the real challenge is making the right choices to lead you towards the happy ending rather than the sad ending. The downside is, the romance feels incredibly forced and shoved down your throat (like, Rosemary barely spends a day with these dudes), but it was nice to see that the options you have to choose to get the happy endings weren't always obvious.
Unfortunately the endings aren't nearly as exciting. There is no extreme endings, so no, you won't end up with a dead prince at the bottom of a cliff or a lover's suicide, and I can't fully decide whether that's good or bad. It definitely suits the innocent, charmingly rosy tone the game was going for, but I wished the bad endings weren't all just the same, where Rosemary simply has to walk away from her prince after they reach Starlight City. Like, that's it? Toodles? We're off with a heartbreak from a one-day lover? Come on, even Romeo and Juliet committed suicide and they barely knew each other for a few days!!

ɿ(。・ɜ・)ɾⓌⓗⓨ?

But hey, what was surprising is that they decided to have the characters get really intimate in some of the routes, which was both extremely awkward but pleasantly entertaining in some cases.

I have no recommended playing order, so if you do decide to pick this one up just chose randomly!


The Characters Routes

Prince Falkner is the Prince of the Fae and the handsomest of them all! Which would be good enough, if it weren't because he's super frikin' tiny?? And he rides of Rosmary's shoulder most of the time, which makes for a very awkward romance... I get he's still "human", but how does one get it going with a bean-sized man???
I didn't enjoy Falkner's route as much as the others, but his ending did have a very bittersweet turn to it, so I'll give the writers props for that.

Crow, Prince Elgandir's caretaker, is a mysterious shabby womaniser with a few tricks up his sleeve (literally). Crow's route goes down as my favourite in the game, because it surprised me by getting wildly creative with his character and adding an extra scene at the end after you complete it 5 times. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's chair-gripping, but the plot twist was very entertaining!

Prince Kuya, of Moonforest, is a mighty warrior whose favourite pastime is showing off. This arrogant facefart spends most of the route rambling on and on about his greatness, his achievements, his strength.... and just doesn't. shut. up. I didn't care much for Kuya's route, despite the little twist we got at the end.

Tirune, Prince of Dragons, is an actual real fire dragon who's taken up human form because it's way too cold for him. Tirune is definitelly my favourite character in the game, and I enjoyed the love struggle in his route the most! Heck, there are quite a few moments where I was genuinely creeped out by his character, and thought the writers did a pretty solid job with him.


The System & Artwork

There's nothing much to say about the system and gameplay, other than it's just as basic as the story. You have a log function and a fastforward function, which are my two essentials in VNs. You don't get many saving slots, but it's not like you'll need them anyway. If anything the only point I found lacking was that you couldn't load a saved game whilst in-game, you had to go back to the menu screen to do that. That was rather annoying, but I didn't need to do that too many times, so yet again it doesn't really matter.
We also got a lot of sprite variation and a decent amount of CGs for a game that is relatively short. The character designs and drawings were super cute and and had a Steven Universe vibe to them, so I'm sending star stickers Aamtmaja Pandya's way for her awesome work.


Conclusions

What to conclude from such a short journey? Well, Rose of Winter is one of those otoges that are just right for a gloomy day in at home when you have nothing better to do. It lands in that grey area where you can't say it's great (because, well, it's too short and corny for that) but neither can you outright cross it out as terrible and shallow, because it clearly wasn't out to be the VN of the year ┐(´∇`)┌. It's super casual and chill, with a few scenes that are bound to make you giggle, and the perfect starter-otoge if you've never before played one. My favourite routes, from least to most, is: FalknerKuyaTirune Crow.

The Good

  • Great starter-otoge, if you haven't played any before.
  • Very cute protagonist.
  • Sweet and chill, great for a rainy afternoon.
  • No extreme endings? So no need to stress out? (I complained, but I guess it's a good thing overall...)

The Bad

  • Very short.
  • Shallow romance that happens regardless of what options you pick.

FINAL VERDICT!

Give it a go(?)

I got it for 6€ on Steam, but I personally wouldn't play it for the original 12€ it's worth...


Happy 2017, my lovelies!!

Posted on: 04/01/2016



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