Growing up, we all have our favourite stories. Tales that fill us with joy and allow our imaginations to run wild. For many, fairy tales fill this slot. For me, I loved fantasy tales and their magical characters. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a firm favourite. Many of you will be excited by a reimagining of this classic called A Little Lily Princess.
Developed by Hanako Games and Hanibira and published by Ratalaika Games, this is a ‘Yuri’ visual novel. It focuses on the narrative from the original story and adds a twist of forming bonds with the other main characters. You’ll relive the touching story but will have the chance to influence friendships on your way to six alternative endings.
A Little Lily Princess captures the tone and emotion perfectly.
Fans of the Visual Novel genre want each game to be well written and to look fantastic. Luckily, A Little Lily Princess has that in abundance! Staying true to the original plot, you are not in for any surprises, but what is fantastic are the weekly choices that allow you to influence relationships with the other girls. Unlike traditional Visual Novels where you alter the flow of the plot with dialogue choices, this one has weekly tasks that build or break friendships. This was an interesting twist on a much-loved mechanic, and though I’m not an expert in the genre, I enjoyed this fresh approach.
Now you may worry that a Yuri style novel about young girls is going to be seedy and borderline inappropriate. Worry not! The bonds that are formed are subtle and offer nothing suggestive or sexualised. This was the right approach from the developers and it enhanced the original tale. The pace of the story flows well, and it doesn’t linger at any low points for too long. Broken down over two acts, you will see the high and low points of the protagonist’s life.
The ability to choose who you wished to form bonds with added genuine interest. Though its random nature negatively impacted how the game played out. I’ll touch on this later in the review.
What is A Little Princess all about?
If you haven’t heard of, or read A Little Princess let me give you an overview. It’s effectively a tale of riches to rags, servitude, and losing everything you hold dear. Sara Crewe is sent to Miss Minchin’s boarding school. Her wealthy father is a captain in the army, based in India. The climate is not suitable for children so she is sent to England. She is given preferential treatment because of her background and the other girls resent her for this.
Miss Minchin is told of Captain Crewe’s death and the loss of his wealth. With no power or money to protect her, Sara is forced into servitude to pay off the outstanding bills from her stay at the boarding school. A family friend finds Sara after years of searching and she gifts her a new home and the share of her father’s wealth that has formed since his death. It’s a happy ending that tugs at the heartstrings and makes you feel warm inside.
Relive the classic tale.
The main characters from the story are all available to interact with, but as already stated you will find this a frustrating endeavour. The gameplay is split between the novel and weekly tasks of education or chores depending on which act you are in. Each task offers a selection of attributes that appeal to each of the girls. An RNG selects what score is given, and you then choose who you interact with.
In theory, this approach was great, it added a sense of anticipation and you never knew who would want to interact with you. In reality, however, it was annoying when you were trying to woo a specific person. I turned to saving and loading my game repeatedly to get the result I wanted! This slowed the story down horribly and broke the immersive nature. I applaud the developers for trying something unique, but sadly for me at least, it was more a failure than a success.
A Little Lily Princess is fantastic to look at.
The art style isn’t amazing, but it’s still great to look at. It isn’t as vivid or OTT as many of its peers as it uses pale colours to enhance its fairy tale theme. The cartoon art and still images work well alongside the easy-to-read text. It was a pleasure to play, even if I wasn’t wowed by its approach. The emotion is shown through a range of still images will detailed facial expressions. It’s a basic form of animation but it’s perfectly serviceable in this type of game.
The audio follows suit with a nice but safe approach. A variety of songs are all similar in style and were a little repetitive to listen to across the course of each playthrough. Each chosen song helps to set the scene and has the right balance to enhance the atmosphere. What I particularly enjoyed was how the music supported the text and how it didn’t overpower each chapter.
More to this than most Visual Novels, but still easy to play.
If you’ve played Visual Novels then you’ll know it’s a relaxing experience. A skip function allows you to race through text, and a speed option lets you adjust the pace to your reading standard. The controller is used rarely and you can enjoy the plot unfolding before your eyes. This one is a little more in-depth with its weekly tasks to be completed. But this additional mechanic doesn’t make it much more complicated.
The RNG factor and the six endings increase the replay value vastly. Each interaction is genuinely interesting so the desire to see each finale will draw you back in. It’s a relatively short read at around four hours, so a completion will take around ten to fifteen if you skip through all the text you’ve already seen. Achievement hunters will need to see every ending, though guides are available if you don’t fancy doing the hard work.
A Little Lily Princess brings back childhood memories.
Though A Little Princess wasn’t my favourite story, I remember it from my childhood. A Little Lily Princess captures this perfectly and adds a nice layer of intrigue and interest without going down the inappropriate route. If you love Visual Novels, you’ll adore this game. I fell for its charms and recommend you buy it here! Experience the highs and lows of life and form strong bonds with new friends. It’s a wonderful tale that will tug at your heartstrings.