So I randomly picked one of the games sitting in my backlog folder once again last night, and like the last time, I hit the jackpot. This one is times better than ‘Don’t Take it Personally‘, maybe because it’s more to my taste. The title is ‘Frozen Essence‘ from VenusEclipse, a freeware made with Ren’Py. Yeah, it’s fantasy! I prefer it over high school drama any time! By the way, unlike DTiP, it’s a dating sim. Meaning you’ll get to pick a guy you like and pursue him. Romance isn’t everything, of course, because there are secrets to unfold in the world of Frozen Essence. One plus point: it’s clean. There are disturbing scenes regarding disturbed mental health, but as far as the romance goes, there is nothing to avoid. Big bonus because I don’t like seeing inappropriate scenes.
I’m a speed reader, and to me this isn’t long. I finished my first path in about one and half hours and the second one under two hours. Yes, I’ve just finished two paths. In one night. Not too bad. You get to name your character (default: ‘Mina’), a girl who is trapped in Frozen Essence. At the beginning of the game someone breaks her free and takes her to create her own realm where she’d be safe. She collapses just after the realm is created and wakes up one hundred days after. There, she meets the Oracle, the one who saves her and maintains balance in her world while she’s unconscious, and her three guards :A devoted knight named Rune, a carefree boy named Caius, and Aysel, a weak looking girl that seems out of place in the crystal realm. They’re there to hunt Life Essence to sustain Mina’s life. Mina loses her memories but several days after her awakening, she hears someone asking for her help telepathically. She slips out of her realm (something everyone fears of due to her frail health and probable pursuit), ends up in a frozen snowfield and found by a boy named Varian. From that snowy little town in one of the oldest part of the world, the gears of fate begins to shift. Why’s she sealed before? Who’s the people chasing her?
Different from many otome games, each path will take you to visit different aspects of the story. One branch will be greatly different from the other, and you’ll not be able to grasp what’s actually happening in one playthrough. The more you complete, the more you’ll understand. Even if you’re completely lazy or confused, I suggest trying two different paths at least. They’re mutually exclusive, and choosing one path conveniently lock the others so you can’t be greedy and switch your mind in the middle, and it’s done pretty cleverly too, because in most paths you and your chosen partner will be secluded from the others (other characters present but only every once in a while). The first major branch to choose the path you’ll after is pretty early in the game.
There are four boys to go after, plus one secret character. The gallery will reveal just how much path is available. I warn you, it’s pretty short but if you’re a completionist like me, you might have to invest several hours for this one. Before we discuss more, let’s meet the major characters:
Sorry, no pic for now because WordPress isn’t playing nice with me.
A girl rescued from a slab of ice. Has strange power like creating her own private realm and needs Life Essence in order to live. Her personality varies greatly depending on the path you pursue.
The first guard recruited by the Oracle, and seems to have relationship with Aysel. He’s polite, devoted and loyal, sticking with ‘rules’ most of the time. Has bad relationship with Caius and shown to know someone named Oryon. He agrees to live in Mina’s realm to escape from outer world. Her favorite spot is around the courtyard. His path is the Light path.
The only girl amongst Mina’s guards. While certainly not the strongest, she could harvest Essence as well. Brought together by Rune to the crystal realm. Kind and girly, she prefers to stay out from battle. Always seen near the chapel.
The last guard, often seen in the shadow of the Great Hall (pun not intended. You’ll understand when you play his path). Not very civilized and his tongue is very sharp. He doesn’t get along very well with Rune. Not your average angsty boy, he’s childish, arrogant and impatient, but can be very protective to those he deems important. Valuing his own life more than anything. A mix between a little boy and sadist combatant, somewhere between kitten and puppy. Yes, he’s that bizarre (not necessarily in bad light, though). So dense that it becomes a running joke. Bearer of Earth path.
A pretty ladies’ man who is a famous soldier and guardian of Air. He’s flirty, causing him to be chased by horde of admirers. He makes a lot of promises each year and manages to forget every single one of them. He will choose one girl to spend a day with him in the second day of Sapphire festival, something that never fails to charm women. Actually a decent fighter. Air path.
The first person Mina meets in the outer world. Always seems to be busy, but he’s almost always lost in thought as well. Rune is supicious about him. He is serious and follow his own set of morals, often reconsidering his decisions. Fire path.
Real name is unknown. He’s the one helping Mina out of her cold prison, guiding her to her world and maintaining order of said world when she isn’t capable to. He’s also the one recruiting guards for Mina. Knows a lot about outside world, happily supplying her with information while also sounds reluctant to give out some details. His face is hidden under the cloak.
The group which pursue Mina. They’re said to keep the balance of the world. There are five leaders who make decisions which will be carried out by lower ranking members. What secret do they keep from the world?
First time playing I’m torn between Rune and Caius. Then when Varian came, I split my decisions again. It’s my tradition to do first playthrough without save/load or scroll back, but instead choose whatever option I want and see the result carried out so no cheating. What did I get from this half-attempt to see everything? The Water-path Light ending. When I read the website this morning, turns out I got the secret character for my first ending. Not bad at all, though it pretty much solves the mysteries around Mina’s identity. I was surprised at the turn of events.
Then I went for Caius and got his Light ending. His part is so fun and a little bit more light-hearted than Water path, and the last fifteen minutes are just plain adorable. I guess I have something for this type of character.
I heard that Rune is the main love interest and he has five different endings from his path, more than twice the others (aside from Rune, each character only have two routes: Light and Dark), but he can be quite boring at times. I’m going to check his route after I finish Varian’s.
Frankly, I don’t really like Aurelius, which means I’ll do his path last. To be honest, it’s his clothes that puts me off.
Now the long part is over and we’ll get into the artwork and music.
The music is surprisingly pleasant. Definitely sets the atmosphere. Works very well with the scenes. The OST is up to grab from the official website.
By the way, you should get used with the overused slapping SFX. Sometimes it’d make you cringe.
The artwork is quite rough and characters’ faces are a little bit inconsistent from scene to scene, but the backgrounds are pretty good. I’m not too picky with graphics so I’d say it’s decent enough, especially when you consider this is a one-man job. CGs quality range. Mostly good except some awkward poses.
If you’re a grammar Nazi, however, prepare to be frustrated. The English isn’t very good and though it works most of the time, some sentences are jumbled and not very comprehensible. It’s said that version 2.1 fixed some grammar mistakes, but I suggest you to cheer up and just play. The story is interesting enough to make up for it. The ending variations are quite diverse, ranging from crazy, angsty, to cute and heartwarming.
To me some paths need elaboration. There are still some interesting parts that could be expanded. The world is so immersing that you’ll want more. There is this ’empty’ feeling you get because there is just not enough explanation. Okay, I’m fan of heavy text, but still…
I guess this is it for now. I’ve done a pretty lengthy post but I doubt it’s enough to cover this game. There are flaws, of course, but the potential is too good to be missed.
Second part here