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There are no spoilers in this review. Midnight Cinderella is a Japanese Otome game by Cybird in their Ikkemen Royal Romances series. Otome games are visual novels that center around a kindling romance and allow players to choose their responses to the suitor. There are generally several suitors to choose from, and each has their own distinct personality, story arc, and flaws to work through.
The game is in English, which is one of the few English Otome games that I saw in the Google Play Store. There are no LGBTQ options available in this game. You play as a straight, cis female with only straight, cis male suitors.
How to Play – Bells & Grace
At its base level, Midnight Cinderella can easily be played in 10-20 minute intervals daily. Every day at 7am, you receive 5 story tickets and can read 5 sections of your current chapter. Each story has 2 sections per chapter with a total of 13 chapters. The story will periodically gate you with Royal Challenges that require bells or grace to continue the story.
Bells are the in-game currency. Please, unless you do Princess Lessons a lot, don’t spend your bells outside of the royal challenges. I know the boutique tab with all the pretty clothes is tempting, but if you empty your Bell total on shopping, you will stall out on Royal Challenges in your main story and waste precious story tickets. The boutique items are the same as those from the Royal Challenges, so you’re better off waiting.
During some Royal Challenges, you will be asked to pick between two articles of clothing. One item will require bells to purchase, and the other will require coins. Coins are converted from real-world money. The coin purchase is tagged with a “steamier story” attached to it, but most of these are not worth doing. If you want to go this route, save your money for late-chapter challenges.
Grace is obtained in the Princess Lessons tab by burning 5 stamina points per round. The stamina bar maxes out at 20 and regenerates at 1 point every 3 minutes. In the Princess Lessons mini-game, the system pits you against a random player, displaying both of your grace totals. The rule of thumb here is to challenge players with less grace points than you.
Note: Grace points in the Princess Lessons total all grace points earned, period. However, Royal Challenges that require grace will only total the grace you’ve earned while on that story.
Endings: Sugar or Honey… or Secret?
Throughout your story, you will be prompted to respond with a choice from three options, and these options affect your Love Trajectory meter. The options are always one neutral, one Sugar response, and one Honey response. You won’t know which is which unless you cheat and look it up. Answering with a sugar response will move your meter one spot to the left while a honey response will move you one spot to the right. Neutral responses keep you in the same spot.
Sugar endings are solely from the princess’s point of view with no epilogue following. Honey endings feature an epilogue from the suitor’s perspective. If you have a honey ending and have over 15,000 grace (not total grace, see note above), you will unlock a bonus, secret ending.
On a more complex level, the game will often have bonus event stories. These stories don’t require story tickets, but the chapters are Grace-gated. Working on a bonus event story will cannibalize progression on your main story, since the grace obtained for the event can only be used for the event. I found the side stories not worth doing , and there’s no chance of ranking or getting high-level prizes without spending a fair amount of cash.
There’s also a free daily Garden Gacha, that’s just a random chance click game that may give you rare items for your avatar’s garden scene or secret side-stories. It’s worth it to do the freebie daily, but for me, it’s not worth it to dump cash into this game to get the super rare items. You will need to obtain a super rare item from the Garden Gacha to fill up the heart meter located above the Love Trajectory meter. This meter, called the Heart Lamp, unlocks a special Gacha sheet with another special side-story if you happen to get the ultra-rare prize. It doesn’t seem possible to do this unless you spend a lot of real money.
The Game Story
Now that we got the complex-sounding-yet-actually-simple gameplay out of the way, it’s onto the story! The town/kingdom of Wysteria’s king is ill and he has no heir. As is custom in Wysteria, a princess elect is chosen to fulfill the role of an heir. Once chosen, the princess must select a prince consort to share her rule with. You are that chosen princess, and you must choose your prince. In order to start a story, you must select one. So who will it be?
1. Alyn* “The Haugty Knight”
2. Louis “The Mysterious Duke”
3. Giles “The Seductive Tutor”
4. Leo “The Flirtatious Bureaucrat”
5. Byron* “The Enigmatic Ruler of an Enemy Kingdom”
6. Nico “The Cheeky Butler”
X. Robert: As of now, you can’t pick Robert. He’s a childhood friend of your character turned royal court painter.
7. Sid “The Sexy Information Dealer”
X. Albert: As of now, you can’t pick Albert. He would have been my first pick if that were the case. He’s Byron’s right-hand man and head knight.
*Has a second main story playable after the first.
I did 2 full play-throughs with both Leo and Byron. I selected Giles at one point and quit before the first section was over. He gives off a really… uhhh… creepy vibe. Like, dude, I’m not giving consent for this. Now I’m currently in a play-through with Louis, but I did that thing I warned about at the top, so now I’m stalled out at a Royal Challenge until I get more bells.
I liked Leo’s story, but he’s not nearly as flirtatious as the tag line gives him credit for. He feels like he’s faking the flirtatious thing, which is a bit weird but not necessarily in a bad way. He’s reminiscent of Loki from the anime Fairy Tail, if that helps your choice.
I loved Byron’s story. It had the most uncertainty and tension, and the love story felt really believable. Stein, the “enemy kingdom” that Byron is ruler of, seems to be more of a mysterious, misunderstood neighboring kingdom than an active “enemy” rival. I have not played his second story.
Louis’s story is predictable but sweet. That’s all I can say without spoilers. I feel the game wants you to pick Louis or Alyn, if the game had an actual cannon story line.
Not a fan of a few things…
I don’t like that most event items are nearly impossible to get unless you dump actual money into obtaining stamina items to pad out your grace. I doubt Cybird will change this, since it appears Otome games have a huge following, and there’s no shortage of players who hit these goals. Seriously, though, some of these players must have dropped hundreds of dollars on this game in a weekend to get to these top spots.
In addition to the clothes you get from Challenges, your suitors also give gifts through their stories. Unfortunately, your closet is tiny. At some point, you’ll be forced to spend money to expand your closet or delete out your previous suitor’s gifts and clothes.
Overall, it’s a nice casual game. For awhile, I used it to wake myself up in the morning by reading the next 5 sections. The stories are sweet, somewhat predictable, and nothing too earth-shattering, like your favorite ABC family rom-coms. If you’re looking for Nora Robert’s type romance novel shenanigans with descriptive sex scenes, this game is not it. It reads more like a Twilight novel, implying, but not showing.
The Royal Challenges are okay. If you drain all of your stamina on Princess Lessons once a day while reading your story, you should still have enough grace and bells to proceed through the Challenges as they arise.
Cybird, please, can I have an Albert main story? Onegaishimasu?