If you hadn’t seen my last post, this is kinda a continuation of that one. Cinderella Phenomenon simply has too much content to cram into one review. I mean, each of the five routes is it’s own story; no two are even remotely the same. Since Rod’s was the second route I chose in my quest for completion, I will write a review of his route next. Click here if you want to read my review of the Karma Route, but just in case you’re not interested in Karma, let me sum up the set-up for the game before going into the review.
Princess Main Character (I know her default name is Lucette, but her name is customizable so I’m referring to her as that instead of her default name) is simply mean. She’s so bitter, ruthless, and cold to everyone she comes across, that she’s known through the kingdom as the Ice Princess. One day, one of her most favorite and prised dolls springs to life from the shelf and claims to be a witch named Delora while cursing the princess with what’s known as the Fairytale Curse; more specifically, Cinderella Curse, where she is forgotten by everyone from family to palace staff to townsfolk in the street. It’s as if she never existed. She’s found by the witch that cursed her and a fairy named Parfait, who both explain why she was cursed and how she can break her curse. Around her neck is a glass slipper pendant. With each good deed she does out of the kindness of her heart, a piece of a second slipper will appear on her necklace. Once she completes 3 good deeds, she’ll complete the pair of glass slippers and her curse will be broken. Until her curse is broken, she must stay in an inn that acts as a safe haven for cursed individuals and work at the tavern conjoined with the inn.
Now on to Rod’s route. Since the Fairytale Curse doesn’t affect others who are cursed or mystical creatures like witches and fairies; example, everyone who’s cursed still remembers the Ice Princess. Rod is cursed with what’s called the Mermaid’s Curse. To put simply, he’s mute and can only communicate through a magical stuffed bunny given to him by Parfait that reads his thoughts and speaks his mind on his behalf (which he might argue is a curse in itself). Because Rod is Princess Main Character’s step-brother, he has the longest history with her and the biggest grudge against her. He doesn’t accept her as a member of his family and doesn’t hesitate to tell her that the Royal Family is much happier without her around to be the wet blanket. As for his curse, he’s given up on breaking it long before the events of the game due to just how closely his curse follows the fairytale it’s based on; the Little Mermaid.
Rod’s entire backstory on why he was cursed follows the beginning of the Little Mermaid to the letter. He discovered his childhood friend drowning in a river, so he saves her. In a panic due to the fact that she isn’t breathing, Rod runs away to get help from someone nearby. When he returns, some other Prince Charming swooped in and took all the credit for the daring rescue. Knowing that his childhood friend has always dreamed of a fairytale ending for herself, he makes a deal with a witch; his voice in exchange for royal status. That night, he was mute, the next morning, the king declared his undying love for Rod’s mother and he, his mother, and his sister were moved into the palace as members of the Royal Family.
Like Karma, Rod kept the conditions of his curse secret for similar reasons. I was intrigued by learning why he acts coldly to someone who supposedly was a childhood friend and life-long crush, and I was kept at the edge of my seat watching the tragedy of the situation uncurl. While I am familiar with the original tale of the Little Mermaid, possibly more than almost any other fairytale, I didn’t expect the curse to be such a literal repeat to the mermaid’s tragic love story.
Unlike Karma, however, Rod is much more the Little Brother type (though that might be slightly due to the fact that he is Princess Main Character’s actual younger step-brother). He’s much more irritable, brooding, angsty, and simply grumpy or complaint-heavy. Any compliment he gives to the princess is back-handed at best. One thing, though, is that he is blunt and unafraid to speak his mind; even if he was afraid to, his little stuffed rabbit, Sebby, would speak it for him regardless of the consequences.
Ok, this is where the spoiler warnings come in (sorry, I guess I just didn’t have much spoiler-free to say about Rod). If you hadn’t yet, turn back now, find the game on steam (it’s free to play) and run a playthrough yourself before coming back to hear my thoughts.
If you’re still here, then you either already played the game, or you don’t care about spoilers regardless of warnings.
Both of Rod’s endings, the good and the bad, are so bitter-sweet, one slightly sweeter than the other, and vice-versa.
For some context of the endings, Princess Main Character finally concludes that Rod’s curse’s conditions are a lot closer to the fairytale it’s based on than other curses, so she enlists Mythros, a witch who’s been working in the palace as Alcaster’s equal, to help her break Rod’s curse because Viroica, the woman he sold his voice to be with, is marrying another Prince Charming and Mythros confirmed that Rod will die if she marries another man. Princess Main Character gets desperate and asks what Mythros wants in exchange for his help, and he simply says “I want you to use something on the day after tomorrow” (which he’s obviously referring to the crystal that causes unhappiness since she will become the new bearer and he doesn’t hesitate to show that he’s an avid follower of Princess Main Character’s mother). She agrees blindly until she decides to pick up the Little Mermaid and read it for herself. By the time she reads that the mermaid must kill her prince to return home, it’s already too late and Em, Rod’s sister, is bringing a knife to the throne room where Rod, Mythros, and Viroica are waiting.
I could go further in depth, like talk about how Sir Alcaster still has a coup, Varg still makes a random appearance and things like that, but really, those events are inconsequential. Varg disappears as suddenly and randomly as his arrival, and Sir Alcaster is quickly disposed of and his only contribution is giving Princess Main Character the idea that Mythros is a witch.
Anyway, in Rod’s bitterly sweet bad ending, he takes the knife from Em and knows what he has to do, but can’t. He tells Princess Main Character that at the stroke of midnight, he’ll dissolve into mist. She cries, telling him she just wanted to help and that it didn’t have to end this way, but Rod just hands her Sebby from his shoulder. He embraces her, smiles, and says “I was starting to like you. If we had more time, I could’ve truly loved you”. On that note, the clock chimes 12 and Princess Main Character is left with nothing more than Sebby in her hands, and a clump of bubbly mist in front of her.
See why I say bitterly sweet? He was already on the right track to loving the princess, but she just couldn’t make him fall for her in time. Talk about so close yet so far.
Moving on to… the sweetly bitter ending. Rod still claims that he can’t kill the woman he loves, so Mythros decides to bend the rules and possess his body to do it for him. Delora rushes in and the two witches have an all-out magic duel while the princess desperately tries to stop Rod. Only when he strikes Princess Main Character when she stands in front of him to block him from Viroica does he finally snap out of it. Mythros sees that his plan failed and flees while Princess Main Character and Rod confess their feelings for one another, which breaks Rod’s curse. The princess was able to break her curse as well with her shield stunt. Now that their curses are broken, they can live happily ever after, right? ….Well, not exactly. As weeks pass, Princess Main Character learns how to control her magic with Delora teaching her, and she works with Parfait to restore balance between light and darkness as the new Tenebaram (not at all confident that I spelled that right) bearer, and plans to break everyone’s curse when she gains confidence in her abilities, even wanting to go so far as to end the Fairytale Curse once and for all. Her relationship with Rod, however, is kept 100% secret. Only Em knows anything about it, and they don’t allow anyone to know in fear that it would be considered a scandal. To get through it, they sneak out of the palace to meet in the forest, where they do nothing but dance the days away to the music of silence.
See what I meant when I said both the endings are bitter-sweet? In one, Rod is literally turned into mist wishing he had enough time to fall in love once again, and in the other, they have to keep their romance in the shadows. While Karma was a clear tragic bad ending vs. storybook fairytale good ending, Rod is a little of a mixed bag on both sides.
To sum it all up, Rod hasn’t surpassed Karma in my opinion. While Rod’s endings are more dynamic with an interesting take on how the Little Mermaid could’ve ended, I just like Karma too much. Don’t get me wrong though, Rod’s route was fun to play through. It was also a nice angle, having Princess Main Character spending most of the story interacting with people who she’s known her whole life, but don’t know her as opposed to everyone being a stranger.
What do you think? Do you like Rod’s take on his Fairytale, or should he have just let sleeping fishes lie? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments, and while you’re down there, let me know who of the three starter options (I know there are five guys, but two of them are locked until you complete two routes with two of the three bachelors) did you pick first? Karma with the Secretive Big Brother type? Rumpel with the Flirty type? Rod with the Tsundere Little Brother type? Let me know. Next in line, I suppose we should spin some straw. Who knows? This next guy might surprise me, and I might get gold; ’til then, have a beautiful rest of your day~