A Little Lily Princess
Developer: Hanako Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre(s): Visual Novel
Platform: Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 28/05/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
A Little Lily Princess is something of a rarity amongst video games. Where there has been plenty of games that have been adapted from films, comics, and television there hasn’t been many that have been inspired by a novel. The only title that springs to my mind is the original Rainbow Six. But even then the game was only loosely based on the Tom Clancy novel.
The story of A Little Lily Princess is based on Francis Hodgson Burnett’s 1905 children’s tale – A Little Princess. Of course in adapting the novel Hanako Games have taken some liberties with the source material. The bulk of this difference is that the novel’s plot has been moulded to fit into the friendship simulator that makes up the general gameplay. However even as we’re picking and choosing our friends the basic overarching storyline stays relatively untouched.
The game places you within the shoes of Sara Crewe, the daughter of high social standing, Captain Richard Crewe. Up until now, Sara has lived a life of luxury over in India. When the need for a high-class education becomes a must, Sara is shipped off back to London and becomes enrolled at Miss Minchin’s Seminary for Young Ladies. The good Captain’s wealth and reputation mean that Sara is given the Seminaries biggest suite, she has her own made, and everyone wants to be seen with her – including Miss Minchin.
Soon letters start to arrive from India and Richard hints that he’ll soon come to London and visit Sara. However, things turn sour and as a result, the Crewe families reputation gets knocked down a few pegs. As you’ve probably realised this is a riches to rags, to riches tale that’s synonymous with the era in which it’s set. Anyone who’s ever read a Dickens or Bronté novel is going to feel right at home. Even if you’re not, the plot is incredibly accessible and easy to follow.
The main problem when it comes to adapting pre-established characters is that you’re not given much scope to expand upon what’s already been set up. Our main focal point in A Little Lily Princess is Sara and for the most, it’s pretty much how Francis Hodgson Burnette visioned the character back in 1905. Sara is a typical “rich” character from Victorian times. She’s snobby, arrogant, and lives within a fantasy world of her making. Sara also sees herself as both “better” than the lower class and that due to her merely existing she’s giving them a better life. As a character, Sara works wonderfully, especially when she experiences what it’s like to be “poor”. However, due to her values, she’s incredibly hard to like which makes her journey that much harder to see through.
The rest of the cast is a veritable bunch that either hit their intended nuance or fall short of the mark. Much like Sara, Lavina is a well-written character who acts as the games quasi villain. While she’s not inherently bad, she’s that upper-class snob that’s above everyone and anyone. Trust me you’ll dislike her – a lot. Another notable mention is Sara’s maid Mariette. Mariette is a typical Victorian servant who’s seen as the lower class. She’s quite a strong character and her interactions with Sara do well in highlighting the class system that was so prevalent within Victorian England.
Much like other visual novels, A Little Lily Princess includes a form of time management as you take Sara through the story. This involves assigning Sara tasks that will raise her standing with the other students, and open up more dialogue options. Each task that’s undertaken can also be failed multiple times without affecting what ending you get. It’s a great way to stop the game from feeling boring, but it does feel very linear and shoehorns you into what path to take.
Things take a different turn as you enter the second act. Throughout the opening act you’ll live life at the Seminary, take part in lessons and speak to each of the home’s inhabitants. Yet, this second act locks this interaction to a single friend. This also brings a decline to the rest of the cast who all but disappear as Sara and her chosen friend steal the limelight.
Much like other visual novels, A Little Lily Princess features a branching storyline and plenty of endings. However, none of these endings are kept a secret and the game gives you plenty of detail in how to achieve each. There’s also plenty to unlock too, such as Act Endings and a conclusion to each of the girls’ personal stories. To see everything the game offers you’ll have to play through multiple times with focusing on a single character each time. Thankfully there is a handy skip option if you fancy saving time.
A Little Lily Princess is a fairly competent visual novel. It certainly draws heavily on Victorian culture and manners, while taking some liberties with its source material. Sara’s yo-yo journey of riches to rags is pretty predictable, yet it’s still entertaining to “live” through. Most of the characters are well written and there is plenty of detail in the unwritten interactions. The downside is that some of the characters do fall into those typical narrative stereotypes seen before.
If you’re a fan of period dramas such as Downton Abby then A Little Lily Princess is going to certainly entertain. As visual novels go, it’s not the most engaging that I’ve played (or should that be read?), but it’s still a charming tale of the past.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
A Little Lily Princess is out now and can be purchased via the Microsoft Store by clicking here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.