I have a lot of faith in the Niflheim writers, so to soothe the pain inflicted on me by the godawful mess that is Oz+, I decided to play a new Niflheim route.
BIG MAJOR GIANT SPOILERS, obviously. Be warned.
Marvelle has already Let’s Played this game’s prologue, but I’ll sum it up as such: Our MC (who I named Winnifred Undead) is awakened from death 1000 years after her demise. She’s told she’s in an afterworld called Niflheim, and that she’s been resurrected for the express purpose of becoming the bride of Niflheim’s king.
Winnifred is pretty positive about this second chance at life, but she’s understandably hesitant about marrying someone she’s never met. Having no memories of her life before her resurrection and being understandably disoriented, she’s given a period of time to undergo bridal training before the wedding. She meets a variety of men in the process. They’re all residents of Niflheim in varying states of decay and all still in possession of super ripped abs. (Except for Skeletiano. Who is a skeleton. A sassy, sassy skeleton. )
Philipe is Niflheim’s star novelist and also the head librarian at Niflheim’s library. His romance books are beloved all across the land, and he’s prone to somewhat flowery language. I didn’t like him much at first; he seemed corny and his outfit is just absolutely fucking terrible. I know that sounds shallow, but I’m gonna have to stare at that sprite for 16 chapters and it’s highly relevant when your love interest looks like a Cirque du Soleil intern crossed with a cowherd.
Winnifred and Philipe spend a fair amount of time together, as the King has commissioned a romance novel with Winnifred and himself as the lead characters. A solid portion of the story is dedicated simply to this: Winnifred and Philipe immediately have romantic/sexual tension, and that’s not good because she’s engaged to the king. They dance around each other a bit, but things really kick into high gear when Winnifred makes a startling discovery: Philipe isn’t actually dead. He’s the only living person in Niflheim, and that’s very bad news for him. The living are not so welcome in the underworld. Philipe is there to search for his fiance, who passed away 1000 years ago. You can see where this is going.
It’s fairly obvious early on that Winnifred is Philipe’s fiance from 1000 years ago, but they definitely make this “mystery” last for longer than is entirely necessary. Winnifred doesn’t remember Philipe at all, and he’s not sure of the consequences of forcing her to remember. He’s pretty cautious as a result, taking care to avoid even calling her by name. Winnifred realizes Philipe could be killed for being found in the underworld, and so she resolved to find a way to save him and reunite him with his mystery fiance. I’ve gotta give lots of respect to MC for taking on danger to help the man she loves, even when she thinks he’s set on someone else. She’s far from passive and demure, and I love that. Once she gets her memories back, she’s twice as set on finding a way to return to the living so she can give her life with him a second try.
I achieved the Romantic End. Ultimately, the story ended with Philipe’s death. The couple’s dream of returning to the land of the living is crushed, but they’re offered a chance at a long afterlife together instead. It’s sweet and fitting.
It’s also worth noting that the side characters absolutely shine in this route, especially Skeletiano. The care put into writing the side characters payed off in spades. What could have been a truly draggy storyline (drawing out the fiance reveal) wasn’t annoying to read at all because all the interactions in the meantime were fun and interesting. Bravo, Niflheim writers!
Niflheim’s MC is actually one of my all time top otome game MCs. She’s proactive, smart and not afraid to give someone the figurative or literal smackdown when necessary. She’ll step in to fight for what she wants, often physically, and she’s sure as hell not about to wait for anyone to rescue her. She does her best to be calm and selfless, but she’s not a doormat. She explodes when it’s appropriate, and she’s not going to let anyone force her into a marriage she doesn’t want.
She has her own interests and is generally just an actual fleshed out character rather than a self-insert. In short: She’s a kind-hearted void in a dress that will nonetheless fucking stab you if you hurt her friends.
Despite his flowery language, Philipe is actually pretty funny and down to earth. They banter back and forth effectively and come across as two people that are believably compatible, which is shockingly rare. It’s said multiple times that what drew Philipe to MC in both life and death was her tomboyish and independent nature. Her being headstrong and silly is exactly what he likes about her, and that’s quite refreshing. He wants her safe, but he doesn’t want to turn her into something she isn’t. Philipe is much more concerned about bettering himself for her, in fact.
There are some incredibly sweet flashbacks where it’s revealed that Philipe was, in the living world, incredibly awkward and bad with words. Winnifred loved poetry and books, and so he dedicated 1000 years to becoming a great writer who could express himself in the way she liked most.
someone’s cutting onions.
SKELETIANO IS THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO OTOME GAMES
Sure, the romance was good, but Skeletiano was fucking hilarious. I cackled out loud nearly every time he showed up. In fact, most of my screenshots are of him. #notsorry
Don’t ever let not having organs stop you from sippin’ dat tea.
Self awareness is key in life.
And finally, NOBODY loves a good romance more than Skeletiano. Not even otome fangirls.
My heart scale is defined as follows – 5 hearts = a story everyone will fall in love with, regardless of preferences; 4 hearts = a well-done story that people who love the concept will adore, and people who don’t may end up liking it; 3 hearts = if you like this type of story or this type of hero, then you will enjoy this, but those who do not like either of those things will probably not; 2 hearts = it had potential, it squandered it; 1 heart = just a waste of time from the get-go; 0 hearts = why was this made?