Original Japanese Title: レンドフルール
Translation: Reine des fleurs (Queen of Flowers)
Okay, so I’m playing a bit of catch-up (again). I started this game pretty much right after I finished CxM but never reviewed it so…here’s the review! I’ve since played 3 MORE games after Reine so assuming my motivation holds, I intend to review those as well. Damn, I procrastinate worse now than I did when I was in school LOL.
Back to the actual game, I started playing it because Reine is infamous for the 40ish bad ends (similar to CxM) so I decided to play it to get it out of the way. I went into this game with extremely low expectations so I’m not sure if that influenced my opinion at all, but this (mostly unspoiler) review will contain my usual commentary on the different aspects of the game while not really giving away actual events.
Paterdeame is a floating kingdom in the sky that presides over the lower continent Solvieux, which is composed of the four kingdoms Pivoine, Campanule, Chrysantheme, Villet.
In order to keep the countries from decaying, Grace must continually be supplied to the four kingdoms. Originally this was done by the Goddess of Love, Milene, but she passes on the responsibility to the first Reine, who would be born with the power to move Grace. The Reine would be tasked with distributing and maintaining the balance of Grace together with four knights (one representing each kingdom) in order to achieve this.
The Reine and knights positions have continued for several generations, but for some reason, before Violette, a new Reine had not been born for some time so they were unable to move Grace around. As such, the state of all the kingdoms have been slowly falling into ruin without a new supply of Grace. The game follows Violette, the current Reine, and her newly appointed four knights.
Man, I have so much to say about the plot. Please bear with me. First off I have to mention that Reine is a far cry from what I wanted and expected of the plot and setting back when it was first announced. In that sense, the game is extremely disappointing because it really felt like such a waste of a good premise. I have to get that out of the way because I know it possibly colored my opinion on the game but I’m also trying to separate this pre-play disappointment with what was actually presented in the game.
So now, if I analyzed the game as is, taking those initial expectations out of the way, it was actually still disappointing, but for different reasons. I can accept the pasts and certain unique situations surrounding the characters. Some of the ideas could’ve potentially been interesting. It was just executed so poorly. That was probably the most disappointing thing about the game, they didn’t work well with what the game actually had. It was kind of a mess. A little extra time and care spent on developing certain parts more and consistency in ideas would’ve gone a long way.
I think they had a lot of good things going but I just don’t like what they made the overall “mystery” be. It’s an overdone plot point and the lack of consistency in how everything was handled between the routes (and even within the same route at times) was a huge turn off. At times I can forgive slightly lackluster plots, but lack of consistency is a big minus for me because it undermines or contradicts what happens in other routes. If I know there’s a good solution that doesn’t involve a lot of unnecessary drama and death in one route, then the deaths and “tragedy” in the other routes feel meaningless because they could have been avoided completely. I love the ideas of sacrifice and the realistic idea that you can’t have it all and can’t save everything but…not if it isn’t necessary. I just didn’t buy into it.
All the tragedies felt forced. Telling me someone has to be “sacrificed” makes it feel like less of one. In fact, I now slightly cringe when I hear that word in any other content because it was used/emphasized so damn much in this game. It could be a cultural language thing I’m missing, but they would literally say it all the time in every route and it just got tiring. I’ve never seen people fret in a game so much over this so-called “sacrifice” they would be making with their decisions, or how their choices would make someone else have to “sacrifice” themselves. Please give me a break. To me, the people who really feel like they’re making a sacrifice are the ones who don’t go out of the way to call attention to what they’re giving up. I’m not saying you can’t mourn the loss but it was just overdone in this game. The bigger a deal they made out of their sacrifice, the less I cared. If the characters had handled things with a little more grace and dignity I would’ve felt much more sympathy for them. As a result of them making me play through so many useless bad ends I may have just become desensitized but more often than not it didn’t move me at all.
Something that came to my attention was that the weight of lives and events were so different in each route. In general, I didn’t feel like everyone took their responsibilities and obligations as seriously as they should have. Violette felt immature the majority of the time as a result of this. Sure, I can’t say anything because I wasn’t raised with that type of position hanging over my head but she was so naive and the driving forces behind her decisions felt shallow. For the guys, if you’re selected as a knight with a whole country on your shoulders, you have a lot to think about and a lot of lives at stake. Sometimes I think they accepted the decisions of Violette and other characters too easily, like it only affected the immediate people in their group and not their whole country or the people they represented. This makes no sense and is actually quite frightening for people in power to make decisions this way.
When I first started playing, there was a point where I was like, hey, this maybe isn’t too bad. I actually felt bad for the characters and their conflicts. But the more I played, the more fed up with the plot I got because the more I learned, the more plot holes and inconsistencies I saw. Most of the sympathies I felt for the characters and sadness at any untimely ends disappeared as more info was revealed. I don’t know, I just felt very letdown by it all when there was so much potential for this set-up to make an amazing game filled with the conflict of duty and personal desires.
Also, randomyl, it’s probably because I don’t know any French, but it took me a really long time to realize they were saying “Grace” instead of “grass.” In the beginning this really confused me a bit because I thought it was another play on the flower people and all the garden metaphors the game used.
I feel like most of the time, I liked characters more outside of their own routes, but I liked some of the insights you got from playing theirs. I think I enjoyed their general interaction with each other before all the drama started kicking in but I don’t know if I felt connected enough to them exactly. Was it a lack of character development? Did all the inconsistencies just make me care about them less? I’m not sure what it was but I could feel a distance between me and the characters that made me feel less connected to the story.
I do want to say I really liked the (butterfly) attendants to the knights. Their dynamics with each other as well as with their respective knights were interesting. Violette’s butterflies, Ruri and Akane, were kind of annoying to me in the beginning, but they also grew on me more near the end.
Leon (knight from Pivoine) was pretty cute but was somehow different than I imagined. I think he was a good character who suffered as a result of poor writing. He felt like he had so many bad ends for no reason and his good end wasn’t even good in my opinion so he really got the short end of the stick in that sense.
For Ghislain (knight from Chrysantheme), I feel like I liked him as a character, but his route’s plot kind of shadowed over his personality so I don’t have a strong impression of him. He had some convenient plot happenings in his good end and I was just like…okay, sure, let’s just solve this like that. If his route had been done better, I feel like I could’ve liked him more because his stoic, warrior mentality could’ve been really interesting.
Orpheus (knight from Villet) was a pretty cute character as well but I don’t think they developed it as well as they could’ve. I like that he had a strong opinion about the state of the world but I didn’t feel the substance behind his character. They tried to make it a whole mystery thing related to his history but it wasn’t a very impressive reveal and what they did after was just not satisfying to me.
Louis (knight from Campanule) makes me feel conflicted because I like certain aspects of his personality and I think he has one of the best backstories, but I couldn’t really grasp his sincerity. If he was being sincere where I hoped he was, then I actually like him quite a bit (and that smooth NamiDai voice whoa boy). If he wasn’t, then while I sympathize with what he goes through, his unique situation makes him a little harder to understand than some of the other characters. His good end solved the problems presented in the route in a really convenient (and random) way that I kind of shook my head at, but in the was still my still my favorite character.
Hubert (Prime Minister of Parterdeame and Violette’s tutor) was…well, let me put it this way. Why in god’s name did they think it was a good idea to force us to play Hubert last? I mean for plot I guess I can see it but I really didn’t like being forced to end the game with him because quite frankly I didn’t want a route for him at all. I was making pretty good progress in the game but once I opened up his route I basically lost all motivation to play. It felt like they were trying to play off what happened in all other routes and have you still like him which just did not work. At least I got a good kick out of his good end because it was so ridiculous.
ART / CGs / ANIMATION
The art is so beautiful for this game. I only know the artist did WoF but I haven’t played that yet so this is the first game I’ve played with this style. I’m extremely fond of the character designs and the colors. I’m very tempted to buy the artbook.
The backgrounds were also very nicely done. I’m a little confused by the game’s mix of European (French?) and Japanese themes but aesthetically it was appealing.
I really enjoyed that Violette had a sprite. I wish this was more common in otome games. I’m always for voiced heroines, but I feel like that will never be a norm since it’s just one more seiyuu that has to be paid. So at the very least, I like being able to see the heroine because it makes it seem like she’s actually there as a character.
Something I thought was interesting (and also a little lazy) is that instead of having CG variations, once and a while, they would kind of have a smaller CG overlapping the main way to show like…a change in hand movement or position or something. I forgot to screenshot this so I can’t really show it, but it was something I don’t recall seeing in other games before.
When I started playing the game, something felt really familiar about the music that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I got to certain tracks and realized that I was reminded of Jooubachi’s music. That’s probably my main impression. I did like some of the tracks, but I don’t think I liked them enough to purchase the whole OST. And it’s just so funny to me how Ravir is really such a huge part of the game that it has 6 whole tracks dedicated to it.
GAME STRUCTURE / EXECUTION
The layout was pretty nice. They decorated it with like…flowers and butterflies and things. Purple was a main color probably because violet/Violette.
You can access the characters profile after you finish their routes but I’m lazy and didn’t read them LOL. You can also get a few bonuses from the “Special” section which I will explain in more detail in the “Konpeito System” section.
Ravir: Instead of straightforward VN choices, the game implemented this word battle/choice system called Ravir. I know I’m not the only person who played this game who will bring this up, but that Ravir system is kind of annoying. It’s honestly not as bad as I thought it would be, but I found it more irritating for the feel it gave me rather than actually going through it. As I was telling another friend, it’s because it felt like I was always battling with the guys I was pursuing and it was exhausting. I want to woo them, not fight them. The choices were simple, but timed and I really don’t need that kind of stress. Also, Violette would sometimes have Ravir with herself, which I guess is the game’s way of having her think to herself?
You can tell how you’re doing based on the flower color and border. Purple is neutral, blue is bad (set to fail Ravir), and red is good (set to have a successful Ravir).
Konpeito System: This is under the option “Special” from the main menu. Before Ravir, you often “talk” to people to get some info that will be useful for you to use during Ravir. Sometimes you can get Ruri and Akane to “get info” for you to prepare. Depending on how high the last konpeito you fed them was, they can give you better info. When their level is low, they can tell you one person you should talk to in order to get good info. When they get better, they will tell you which person to talk to for info that will help you get the “Loyalty” based answers and the “Love” based answers. It’s clearly labeled by these little icons that are color-coded too; blue for Loyalty and red for Love. Honestly though, if you use a guide, you don’t really need to rely on their intel.
The way you feed Ruri and Akane konpeito is you buy it with points you win from having successful Ravir battles, so they kind of go hand-in-hand. The more battles you win, the more you can invest in winning battles in the future. You also use these points to buy short stories and extra scenes with the different characters. I think one was an all-text short story that happens after their good ends and the other are (3 or 4) short scenes that are meant to be inserted in the main story that gives a little more insight to the characters.
The Bad Ends: Okay, so I don’t hate bad ends. However, I don’t like bad ends for the sake of there being bad ends, and I feel like Reine overdid it with those. Most of them were pointless, added absolutely nothing to the story, and were sometimes so similar to each other I don’t even remember them. Another thing is that sometimes the bad ends made more sense than the good ends did. SOME OF THE GOOD ENDS DIDN’T EVEN FEEL LIKE GOOD ENDS. Like, I understand the idea of bittersweet ends but goddamn, I prefer that in my bad ends, thank you.
I think some people who played the game had some problems fully comping it due to random CG variations, but I was able to fully comp it without difficulty. I think you really need to use a guide to achieve that though, because you need to get ALL the ends in order to get the trophies.
I don’t think you need to play the game in a particular order. Hubert definitely has to be played last because he’s a locked route, but I think any other character is really fair game because you find out the main plot in each route anyway, you just get a slightly different twist to it. Personally, I played it in the order of Leon –> Ghislain –> Orpheus –> Louis –> Hubert. This worked fine for me, but like I said, I don’t see anything wrong with mixing it.
OVERALL CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
I feel like this game has so much bad rep that no one even really gives it a chance. If you accept certain things about it, it’s actually not that bad. While I was very critical of the game in this review, I did enjoy parts of it (to my surprise). I liked it more than I expected, but I say that knowing I started out with such a negative impression of the game. If you start from the bottom, you can only go up right?
I made this comparison before due to the similar feel in the music, but this game reminded me of Jooubachi no Oubou for other reasons. Like Jooubachi, Reine had a decent setup but the execution wasn’t the best and certain concepts could have been interesting if explored more. Meanwhile, there are also some WTF moments where you’re wondering where this idea even came from. I enjoy having different reveals in each route since it adds extra elements to the overall story, but not when it feels so deus ex machina all the time.
Even though I did like parts of the game, I wouldn’t exactly recommend it simply because Ravir was frustrating and so were the inconsistencies and plot holes. If you already bought the game, you may have some hope if you expect it to be absolutely terrible, but if you didn’t buy it then I would suggest not lol.