Loren the Amazon Princess
Publisher: Winter Wolves
Developer: Winter Wolves
Genre: Visual Novel, RPG
Release Date: 01/15/2014
Loren the Amazon Princess recently came out on Steam, so it seems only fair to give it a good playthrough to figure out if it’s worth the $20 the game is going for, as well as the $7 for the DLC. The game is a visual novel with some simple RPG elements included. There aren’t really any controls to master; you just point and click where you need to go.
Booting up the game, I got a notification telling me I needed to update DivX, but when I checked the version I had on my computer, I was told I had the most up-to-date version of DivX. I told the game not to give me this warning anymore and played without issue, so it doesn’t impact the game’s functionality in any way. It just bears noting in case others might see the same situation.
The story begins with Loren, an Amazon princess (hence the title), being told her mother, Queen Karen, has gone missing. You are given to Loren, as a slave, to help Loren in her quest to find her mother. As you two head out into the world, you will, in typical RPG fashion, meet different types of characters, some friend, others foe. You’ll quickly find that there is more behind Queen Karen’s disappearance than meets the eye. There are evil things under way, of course, and it’s going to be Loren’s job to fix it. It’s interesting that you don’t actually play as Loren, and it works. The way you interact with her and other characters can help to shape them over the course of the game.
One interesting thing about deciding whether you are male or female is that it actually affects the storyline and how characters interact with you. The Amazonians are somewhat misandric, to put it nicely, so if you choose to play as the male character, Soren, that will affect how Loren and a few other characters treat you. If you choose to play as Elenor, the female character, you will be a half-elf, which will bring its own issues. Regardless of which character you choose to play, including the DLC, you have the ability to romance the same number of characters, and there are an equal number of male and female characters to romance. I would have liked to be able to customize my character’s appearance a bit, but I don’t think it took away from the experience to not have that ability.
Visually, the game is appealing. The backgrounds and character designs are great, though many of the outfits are a bit confusing for warriors (in that they’re not wearing practical clothing, something most gamers are pretty used to at this point). It’s also somewhat limited, in that there are very few facial expressions for the various characters, and they don’t move very much. While this is pretty standard for most visual novels, it’s a bit more noticeable here when the game is telling you a character is attacking you or getting ready to and the portrait is just standing there. A little more variety in that department would have probably been helpful. The romance scenes are very well designed, and all of them were really nice to just look at, even though a couple were a little awkward.
The audio for LtAP is also pleasant. The music fits the mood well, though during battles the songs change a bit too frequently for my taste. I enjoyed the voice acting, especially from DHGF-favorite Micah Solusod, who plays Draco. The quips from people during battle are funny, especially Draco, Rei, and Chambara. I’d love it if there had been more voice acting, but you won’t be disappointed with the amount that’s currently in the game.
Some of the UI is not very user-friendly, specifically the storefront and equipment management screens, where it can – at times – be difficult to determine whether an item would help your character or not. Additionally, there are a few typos, like double commas at one point. This is probably to be expected for a text-heavy game that takes 10+ hours to get through, but it was noticeable on those few instances.
Even though it’s a driving point in the game, it’s difficult for me to say how much I like the character development and plot. On one hand, every character changes in some fashion, assuming you interact with them enough. They all have backstories and even loyalty missions. I enjoyed talking to people and going through the various romance and friendship routes. Most of the characters are great right off the bat, or they at least grow on you with time. The story is engaging most of the time, I found myself playing for hours at a time, and the game is long enough where you’ll probably need more than one play session to complete the story for the first time. I cared about the characters and what happened to them, and was frustrated when I’d chosen something that upset someone. To their credit, each character has their own distinct personalities, which is a breath of fresh air from games where your entire party thinks exactly like you do.
On the other hand, most of the characters feel very standard and sometimes bland: Apolimesho is your standard old white archwizard, not unlike Gandalf or Sauruman from Lord of the Rings; Amukiki is basically nomadic fighter guy, like Conan the Barbarian or Hercules; Chambara reminds me a lot of Morrigan from Dragon Age; and Loren is basically Xena, to name just a few of the easy comparisons. I find myself torn between calling these homages or tropes. There’s nothing wrong with tropes, per se, but it does come off as a bit lazy at times, since most of the characters play rather straight to their “type.” The story is also pretty typical of fantasy stories, including an area much like LotR’s Mordor, but it works for what we need it to do.
I would not call this game challenging, especially if you level up your magic users as I did, which may or may not be something that players want here. If you’re playing this more for the visual novel aspect than the RPG elements, that is probably fine. In fact, after you beat the game, you have the option of turning on a cheat that allows you to automatically win every battle. The weird thing about that cheat is that you still enter the battle, and you have to make an attack (or be attacked first). If you’re going to win the battle anyway, you might as well skip that screen entirely. (You can also turn on a cheat that gives you 10,000 gold, which is nice if you don’t want to worry about having powerful weapons.) There are three possible (slightly varying) endings without the DLC, and two additional endings if you do get the DLC. I think that if they were to do a sequel to this, the “true” ending would probably be one of the DLC ones. It is interesting that if you romance multiple people, it could lead to confrontation, but other than that possibility, the romances are fairly easy as well.
The DLC for this, The Castle of N’Mar, adds a couple of extra zones, as well as four characters, three of which are romanceable, depending on your character’s gender. This DLC can actually affect the ending of the game, so if you’re wanting to explore that, it could be worth your time, though the price seemed a tad steep for me at a little over 1/3 the cost of the game. There are a couple of minor display issues; for example, if you leave when talking to Zeal and come back, you’ll talk to him but his portrait won’t actually come up. That’s the only occurrence of missing portraits that I ran into, but it was a little weird talking to thin air.
This game is definitely worth playing at some point if you like visual novels, but it felt like it could be a tad bit overpriced for what you get visually. However, the Steam version of the game is cheaper than the non-Steam version, if that is something you’d like to keep in mind. It took me about ten hours to do my first playthrough, with subsequent playthroughs going much quicker with the skip text option on. Regardless, I think I’d like to pick up more DLC for the game, assuming there is any more, and I have heard a few rumors of a sequel, which I think would be worth taking a look at as well. I generally like what they’ve done with the game and think there’s potential for Winter Wolves to break the mold in future releases. I certainly look forward to their efforts.
Short Attention Span Summary
Loren the Amazon Princess is an aesthetically-pleasing visual novel with RPG elements that is worth your time and a few playthroughs, though it’s not particularly challenging in terms of the battle system. It seems a little overpriced, but regardless, it is a fun time if you’re wanting to spend a few hours romancing warriors and mages. Even if it can’t decide whether it has homages to other fantasy franchises or is pulling directly from them, they’re done well enough that you can invest yourself in your party members’ decisions and responses to you. The game is very much worth getting on Steam or Amazon, where it’s cheaper. There’s replay value here, especially if you like exploring different romances and endings, and if you’re an achievement hunter.