219 people found this review helpful
35 people found this review funny
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 46.3 hrs on record (35.0 hrs at review time)
Posted: Sep 29, 2014 @ 9:20am
Updated: Oct 5, 2014 @ 3:55pm

If pigeons weren't enough, now you can choose between BUNNIES and KITTENS. Well, kind of. Unlike the pigeons in Hatoful Boyfriend, these animals fortunately (?) don't stay animals forever. (I took a bunny with me to the beach; he was not impressed when I put on my $100 dollar bikini, the fruits of MANY nights of labor at the local art gallery. I would've been pretty weirded out if he was.)

Animal jokes aside, Dandelion is a lovely, very professionally done Korean visual novel aimed at a female audience. I think this may be the first Korean visual novel on Steam, and it's gorgeous, with fully voiced Korean dialogue and English text. I believe you can set the text to Korean as well. There are five different possible love interests you can pursue at the start, though at the beginning I swear it plays more like a pet raising simulator than anything else. Steambuns instead of Nintendogs, right?

But no, there's a mystery that slowly begins to unfold--and eventually romance. With people. Human people, I swear. Just ignore the occasional animal ears. Yes, the $30 price tag may seem very steep to a lot of Steam users accustomed to cheaper alternatives, but before brushing it off, try the demo (available on Steam right here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/323760/?snr=1_5_1100__1100). It doesn't take long to see how much work went into it, and how many visual novels on Steam have extensive voice acting? Not enough! I've only noticed a few small translation errors here and there, but they aren't nearly as common, noticeable, or cringe-worthy as a lot of the freemium VNs' rushed translations on iOS and Android. Overall, the translation is very well done.

Hopefully, if Dandelion does well enough on Steam, Cheritz might feel inclined to add Nameless, their latest visual novel set in the same general universe--but with dolls instead of cats and rabbits. Yes, dolls. How can any girl resist?

UPDATE after completing all routes, including Jisoo's absolutely TERRIFYING "bad route" (totally worth it for the extra CGs!):

Yes, I sank 35 hours into Dandelion. Yes, every one of them was worth it. I can't think of another visual novel/dating sim that left me thinking so much after completing it. After completing all 5 routes, make sure to check the bonus content! I was really interested in the mystery behind the story--who left me with these animals and why? The bonus content was the cherry on top of an already delicious sundae--and isn't the cherry sometimes the best part?

First, I have to praise the characterization of Heejung. I know most visual novels/dating sims use "blank slate" protagonists (sometimes without eyes--creepy!), but Heejung is the most relatable, realistic heroine I've encountered in a while. (I may be biased because I, too, wonder where my mysterious new bruises came from and how expensive it would be to install a TV in my bathroom when I take a bubble bath to raise my beauty and femininity stats in real life.) Who doesn't understand the pressures of "making it" and continuously doing things you dread solely to please your parents and loved ones, no matter your culture? Who doesn't fear being left behind?

The love interests are fantastic too, and are much more than their archetypes may make them appear at first glance (pretty bunny, baby bunny, snobby bunny, sweet kitty, glutton/pervert kitty), though of course I had favorites. I started with Jihae, whose route seemed like a good one for beginners (just remember to raise some affection with Jieun too!), and ended with Jieun because I was super stubborn about not pursuing a baby bunny. He's a baby! Heejung is a college senior! ...But his route was one of the sweetest and actually had the best ending. Jiwoo's was great too, especially if you've seen as many Korean dramas as I have and can appreciate how the game pokes fun at kdrama clichés. (Those envelopes of money! Candy Cinderella and chaebol romances!)

There is a LOT of stat-raising, but if you focus first on raising your Stress/Pressure Relief abilities, that helps a lot, and soon you won't even notice your Stress and Pressure stats raising at all. Make frequent use of Quick Save/Quick Reload if you accidentally poke/show love/feed them fruit in the wrong place (sometimes deliberately...!) and get a bad reaction, or if you can't find the bunny/kitten of your dreams anywhere in the entire apartment.

If you're on the fence about getting Dandelion, definitely try the demo first--and then just get it. Unless you really, really hate bunnies and kittens (are you more of a dog and ferret person?), you won't be disappointed.
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