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Cinderella Phenomenon: Waltz Route Review

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 Waltz’s was the fourth route I chose in my quest for completion (though I wanted to play him either first or second, I couldn’t because he was a locked character), I will write a review of his route next. Click here if you want to read my reviews of the other routes I’ve talked about so far, but just in case you’re not interested in them, 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.

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. Waltz is cursed with what’s called the Neverland Curse. Basically, he’s cursed so that, while his mind would mature over the years, his body will be stagnated until he can find three things; Tinkerbell, Neverland, and his shadow. To add insult to injury, he’s a witch, but with the loss of his shadow, so are his magical abilities are lost. Unlike the three previous routes, Waltz is an open book about his curse, and doesn’t shy away from the princess. However, similar to Karma and Rod, Waltz has already given up on breaking his curse by the time the princess crosses paths with him; having been cursed for presumably at least 10 years (he looks like he’s 12, claims he’s 22, and when the king sees him, he comments that he looks exactly the same as when he was first cursed).

What’s surprising is that we learn more about other characters than just Waltz in this route. Since Waltz’s and Princess Main Character’s curses are both broken halfway through the story, as opposed to in the grand finale or climax, there’s attention put on other characters, like Rumpel breaks part of his curse and reveals that he’s a doctor, Karma confesses that he’s the Lost Prince of the neighboring kingdom, and we finally get more info on a character I’ve been questioning since the start of it all. This is the only route other than his own where Fritz makes an appearance as himself and answers the question of Varg’s mysterious appearance. This route feels like a complete story, allowing you to learn about all the characters the princess meets instead of just the current love interest. I feel that if you could play this route first (though I know it’s not possible since this is one of the locked routes) then you’d learn just enough about each character to be curious about them and compelled to play their routes. Sadly, this does work against it since, once Waltz’s curse is broken in, like, chapter 4 or 5, he kinda fades in the background and accepts more supporting roles; filling the teacher’s role when the princess is practicing magic and even taking a Damsel in Distress role in the climax (though I’ll get to that later in the “spoilers” section). While I’m glad that they took time for the other characters to make this route feel more like a fully fleshed out story, it turned out as a double-edged sword against Waltz’s favor.

When the route is focused on the romance, Waltz kinda reminds me of a Big Brother type despite his cursed form which makes him look more like a 12-year-old child rather than the 22-year-old man he claims to be, but different from Karma. While Karma is teasing and protective of the princess’ physical state, Waltz is more playful and protective of her joy and innocence. He wants nothing more than to honor the promises he made to her when they were children playing in her room when the queen wasn’t looking. However, because their friendship was in secret, the queen eventually found out and erased the princess’ memories of ever having a friend while giving Waltz his curse.

Ok, time for the spoiler warnings to come in (sorry, everything else I want to say about Waltz is dripping in spoilers since crap hits the fan so early in his story). 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.

First, to catch you up real quick in case you didn’t head the warnings, as I said earlier or you simply need a refresher, Waltz and Princess Main Character break their curses halfway through the story, and the trip to breaking their curses was just as tense as the climax and finale of the other routes I’ve played so far. Princess Main Character asks how to break Waltz’s curse, and he said he needs to find Tinkerbell and Neverland, which are both a key and a box. His “shadow”, his magical power, is inside the box. After hearing a description of the box and key, the princess recognizes that those two objects are in her room at the palace. After telling Waltz this, they eagerly ask Rod for help breaking into the palace. It just so happens that the night they break in to retrieve Neverland and Tinkerbell, is the same night that Mythros and Alcaster stage their separate coups; Alcaster for the throne, and Mythros for reviving Hyldir, Princess Main Character’s mother. Long story short since this is only really the “mid-max”, not the “climax”, Waltz gets the Royal Family safely to the tavern, the princess gets her second and thrid good deeds by insisting Waltz save his own skin and not hers and by preparing to sacrifice herself to prevent Hyldir from returning. Oh, and Varg FINALLY IS UNMASKED! He is confirmed to be Fritz, or at least a version of Fritz. Still though, the princess’ efforts are in vain, her mother is revived, and her father is the first of many casualties.

That’s not even in the climax, but it set up everything for the climax. Fritz is not trusted, even though he talks like Varg is a separate person sharing his body, or a split personality, Hyldir is set loose on the kingdom spreading fear and anger, and all Princess Main Character can do from that point on is learn everything she can about magic. Waltz being her magic teacher almost does more harm than good. Similar to when Karma agreed to teach her sword fighting, he only ever taught her how to defend and escape attackers and kidnappers until her stubbornness to join an actual battle lead him to teach her real swordplay, Waltz does the same. He teaches her nothing but barriers until Hyldir’s arrival is already nearly upon them and she insists on learning at least one offensive spell. She learns only one that’s only powerful enough to stun or paralyze.

The actual endings themselves are the only ones that have no death or bloodshed that’s not unavoidable. However, the effects of the bad ending is horrifying and dooms the whole kingdom, even though the princess and her love interest are safe from harm as opposed to the other bad endings I’ve played so far, where the love interest dies at the princess’ hand, whether intentional (in Karma’s case), unintentional (in Rumpel’s case), or indirectly (in Rod’s case).

In the set-up for the endings, the princess, along with Karma, the two knights, and Waltz all attend Alcaster’s announcement to gain some knowledge of what’s happened in the palace since her father’s demise. On the way, they meet Fritz, who claims that Queen Hyldir will make a public appearance and kill his father, Alcaster. Of course, he’s not trusted by the princess and party, after they unmasked Varg and saw Fritz’s face under the mask. Fritz explains what happened, sounding like Varg is a second personality that took over his body somewhat and he claims it’s part of his own curse which he was oblivious to until recently. At Alcaster’s announcement as the new king after the princess’ father’s death, he claims that the princess is to blame (Now that her curse is broken, everyone remembers her). Hyldir crashes the gathering, kills Alcaster, and strikes fear in the citizen’s hearts to fuel the crystal she now is forced to share with the princess. Princess Main Character doesn’t allow the people to get hurt and extends the strongest barrier she can to protect the crowd from the attacks. Hyldir tries to regain the princess’ allegiance and fails. Seeing this and realizing that the crystal isn’t under her sole control, she gets a cruel idea. Hyldir takes Waltz hostage and claims she’ll return him in one piece if Princess Main Character gives up her magic and swears to be her obedient princess. The princess contemplates the decision at her feet long after the queen disappears with Waltz. She is turned on by the people, still blaming her and willing to take her for the bounty on her head Alcaster claimed just before his death. She accepts her fate at the hands of the people until she notices that the children she played with and family she was kind to earlier is there to defend her. With a lesson in how being selfless pays off, she goes against the advice and better judgment of Karma and the knights, puts up a barrier around the palace, and flees in search of Waltz and her mother.

In the bad ending, when the princess meets with her mother again, she agrees to give up her magic in exchange for Waltz’s freedom, ignoring Waltz’s pleas of denial and claims that she’ll never be the same again. The only things that matter to her at that moment in time are 1) Waltz is set free and 2) her life is spared (though she cares more about the first point than the second). Hyldir reassures her that she will live to see another day, and proceeds to drain her powers. While she does stay true to her promise and free Waltz, he refuses to leave now that the princess is a shell of her former self and a puppet who only knows the words “Yes, Mother”. With Hyldir firmly in the crown and on the throne, the kingdom is doomed and the princess’ last promise to her father is broken.

While Waltz is alive and is technically free to leave, live to see another day, this definitely earns it achievement title of Stolen Dawn. Waltz lives to see another day with the princess at his side, however, the life in the princess is stolen and the kingdom is doomed to live in fear while in Hyldir’s rule for the remainder of their lives and in the foreseeable future.

The good ending is actually the one that has more death. In this ending, when the princess faces her mother again, she’s faced with the same dilemma, only this time her barrier is broken by Delora and Parfait, who both are there to talk the princess out of it. However, Hyldir raises a barrier blocking out Delora and Parfait and blocking herself, the princess, and Waltz in. The princess gets an idea to pretend to be in Hyldir’s side so she can give the final blow when her guard’s down. The fact that no one else in the room knows her plan makes it all the more convincing, working more in her favor is when Hyldir demands that the princess kill Waltz for being a traitor in order to prove her loyalty. Thinking quickly, the princess uses the only offensive spell she knows, a lightning spell. After the spell is charged and ready to strike, she turns to Hyldir at the last second and strikes her instead of Waltz. With the queen now stunned, her barrier and binding spells are broken and Parfait finishes the job, reducing the queen to a pile of silvery grey dust. When they all return to the tavern, the princess as the new crystal bearer breaks everyone’s curses. Karma can dress as a man in public again, Rod can speak, Rumpel remembers his given name, etc. and Parfait makes her final goodbye’s and fades into a cloud of golden dust due to her body completely having given out. The princess says her goodbyes to everyone, promising that she’ll visit them all again soon before leaving for the palace with Waltz. Rather than use a portal to instantly magic to the palace, Waltz insists that they walk instead. The princess is uneasy but goes with it anyway. On the way to the palace, she’s treated as a hero, children running up to give her bouquets of lilies, families and shop owners raining lily petals from higher windows, and everyone she passes giving her a bow and thanks. The story ends on the night of her coronation, where she will be met with everyone again. With Waltz at her side, she vows to never be like her mother again.

This ending is very reminiscent of a Hero’s Journey ending. The princess saves countless lives by being clever and witty, which are traits she’s always had, but now she also has concern for the common folk and her new loved ones. While in other routes, the difference between a good and bad ending is reliant on knowing about the fairytales, making the guy fall in love a little faster, or learning a detail as small as the fact that smacking the living crap out of someone is the most effective way to pull someone from a dazed trance, this ending is completely reliant on whether or not the princess loves the love interest more than she loves her mother. Either way, she as to chose to sacrifice her mother’s life or her lover’s freedom. In the bad ending, she loves her mother too much to sacrifice her, clinging to hope that she could be saved and the two of them could be a family, while in the good ending she recognizes that it’s too late for Hyldir. While she loves her mother just as much as anyone loves their mother, she can see past her blind love and knows the only way to save her is to kill her.

Both endings of this route seem a lot more dire of stakes than the others I’ve played. While in Karma’s route, Alcaster was the big bad, talking about Queen Hyldir having the best ruling strategy, in Rod’s route, Alcaster was a fools-errand, having been arrested before it’s revealed that Mythros was pulling the strings and requests the princess’ help (though never explains what he wants help with), in Rumpel’s route, Alcaster is dead before he even poses a threat and Mythros is the only bad guy, openly asking for the princess’ help in either reviving the queen or her being just like Hyldir. In Waltz’s route, all the conflicts with Alcaster and Mythros happen so early in the story so Hyldir could swoop in and be the real threat. She’s been teased in dreams and dialogue so many times, I figured she’d somehow make an appearance as a grand finale of sorts. It’s no wonder why in the main menu art, Waltz’s stain glass window is front and center while Rumpel’s, Fritz’s, Rod’s, and Karma’s are all off to the sides. Visuals like that in the first thing you see when booting up the game typically means Waltz is the most crucial to the story. This even follows Anime Harem logic; the first boy that’s introduced is gonna be the main love interest unless there’s a childhood friend. Walt’z is, not only the first character the princess meets after getting cursed, but even before getting cursed, but on top of that, he is a childhood friend. His route is most likely meant to be the grand finale. However, I still like the idea that the relation between Fritz and Varg is the biggest mystery, so I don’t regret the order that I’ve played these even now.

What do you think? Is Waltz the Sweet Brother of your dreams, or you not interested in his childish candy? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments, and while you’re down there, let me know who of the five options did you want to pick first? Karma with the Secretive Big Brother type? Rumpel with the Flirty type? Rod with the Tsundere Little Brother type? Waltz the Sweet Big Brother type? Fritz the Protective Loyal type? Let me know. Next time we’ll go to the last, but not least, of the bachelors. Over the river and through the woods, but it’s not to Grandmother’s house we’re going; ’til then, have a beautiful rest of your day~

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