Heejung Kim seems like an ordinary 21 year old college student; She attends classes, is part of a school club and cram school, and works on the side, but Heejung’s ordinary seeming life is merely a mask hiding a sad past, an empty present, and an unknown future. While going through the daily grind of her senior year in college, Heejung wakes up one morning to find five animals, two cats and three rabbits, in a basket next to her bed. Unaware of how these animals came to appear in her apartment, these animals are more than they appear to be and change Heejung’s life drastically and threaten to make Heejung confront the demons from her past and the sadness she hides from the rest of the world. Unbeknown to Heejung, she has caught the eye and attention of a certain powerful Wizard…
Let the Game begin.
Shocked by the animals sudden appearance, Heejung at first is skeptical about what to do with the animals. She quickly begins to become attached to the animals, finding a happiness she has not felt in years, and so she decides to keep them. Heejung begins to settle into her new life with her pets comfortably until one day her life is turned upside down again when her pets suddenly become humans with animal ears and who speak perfect Korean. The animals speak to you of a “Game”, a Wizard who is behind the strange events and forced them to stay animals until he deemed it time to transform them to their true selves, and that they are from another world called Grass, but are forbidden by a contract to really tell Heejung any specifics.
This event marks the change from the common route into a character specific route. Which route you go into depends on the animal you were closest to. There are 5 routes, or guys; Jiwoo, the tsudere spotted rabbit with a penchant for romance novels, Jiyeon, the goofy and cute seeming orange cat who ironically loves oranges, Jisoo, the cool and affectionate black cat into infomercials and rather risque items, Jieun, the quiet and doll-like shota white rabbit that is addicted to apples, and Jihae, the polite and reserved older silver rabbit bishounen who seems to dote on Jieun a little too much. Each character has a “tragic” past that is eventually revealed that explains their personalities, perceptions, and how and why they joined the Wizard’s “Game”. The one that wins the Game gets their wish granted by the Wizard.
The game has some minor gameplay elements, mainly a simple stat simulation, where you visit certain parts of your house and do an action of your choosing that raises stats or decreases pressure and stress, which builds up over time and negatively affects your stat boosting if it’s too high. Like you can go into the bathroom and bathe, which decreases stress and improves your beauty and femininity, but increases your pressure. While the stat building is pretty redundant and for the most part useless, in order to get a good end/events with your man of choosing, you must raise your stats up to a “satisfactory” level for him, and it also serves an alternative way to garner relationship points and hearts with him instead of/with dates.
Characters move about the house most days and you can trigger a small mini event for relationship points by visiting the room your intended is in (In the screenshot, Jieun is in the bathroom) and selecting the “right” action. This usually involves picking from a selection of options, choices depend on your relationship points, that usually involve things like talking to him. In the screencap, I could get a mini-event with Jieun by selecting the bathroom and doing skin care at the sink (Jiyeon is the only one you’d ever trigger an event with by using the tub). On weekdays, you can also go out of the house and go shopping for items/gifts, work part-time for money, or go shop at the bookstore for stat boosters/gifts. Hearts and high relationship points is also required for endings. Affection points are capped until a certain event and a bad level/not enough hearts can set you onto the path of a bad end, so it’s important to get your stats up to satisfactory and be no less than 5 points from the cap by event time to avoid a bad end. You unlock more actions at home when your therm gauge is full and the heart is red. This is achieved by getting Heart Gauge points by doing certain actions, like painting, around the house. (Pretty typical dating sim stuff imo)
On the weekends, you have the option to stay home and do normal home events, work for money, or go out on a date with someone. Dates are a great way to garner relationship points and also find out more about the characters and their personalities/likes/dislikes. While on a date, you are given two options to respond to your partner, one being the “right” choice that gives you relationship points, and the other giving none, but you get some funny dialogue sometimes. Date events are different for each date area and also change as you gain more relationship points. After the date, you are given two more options; To do a certain event, such as draw at the park, or “look around”. Doing the area specific choice gives some more dialogue and boosts certain stats, while the look around option brings you to a mini “search” thing where you can collect items to give or sell, and little “character” stamps that are used to redeem unlockable art for the character in the main menu.
Jisoo’s route was really weird for me. He eats everything in sight, dislikes bathing, and is constantly watching infomercials and begging Heejung to buy the latest cat products (like something called yum yum snacks) for him. Early on in Jisoo’s route, you can tell he is really trying to get Heejung to like him, while most of the other guys seem to keep their emotional distance from her in their routes. I say this route was really weird for me because Jisoo was a bit whacky. Early on, he is extremely loyal and kind to Heejung, but as their relationship evolves and it’s obvious Heejung favors Jisoo, he begins to show a bit of crazy jealous tendencies.
He starts like creeper stalking Heejung when shes out of the apartment and starts getting physical, as in like roughly handling, with Heejung anytime he finds Heejung around any other guy, or if he even suspects shes thinking of another man; And Heejung lets him even when hes so rough he bruises her arms. Made me want to punch the guy. He also likes to give Heejung pretty “adult” gifts, like sexy lingerie and risque bikini’s (Not kidding, the bikini is actually pixelated in your inventory screen) Before I could start hating Jisoo though, he busts out with his “tragic past” and despite his jealous craziness, shows he truly loves the heroine in his own way, and I couldn’t help but sympathise and understand Jisoo and his actions. His wish is the most selfless one out of all of the characters. Still didn’t like his man-handling, but I could look past it in my little fantasy world. So Jisoo’s route was kind of an iffy like for me. I’m pretty sure that if guys can be yandere, Jisoo is a total yandere and I can only imagine his crazy levels if him and Heejung had slept together…Jisoo is described as being around Heejung’s age, which is 21.
Jiwoo is a complete tsudere in my opinion, and a really freaking odd one at that. Right after his transformation from an animal, you find that Jiwoo has an odd fascination/obsession with romance novels and soap opera shows. He’s also an utter jerk to Heejung, constantly calling her stupid, a lowly commoner, and things like that. After date scenes in the beginning, he tells Heejung to open the door for him and go cook dinner like a good commoner. GO MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN SANDWICH JIWOO!
While I’m not really into this kind of character archetypes, I found Jiwoo really growing on me despite his snob-nosery as his route progressed. Hes surprisingly extremely romantic and he eventually eases up on the jerk comments and dotes on Jiwoo. He tells you not to go out with other guys, but he doesn’t go all psychopath if you go out drinking with your buddy Heejae like Jisoo did. His gifts are pretty thoughtful, and Jiwoo’s “tragic past” really resonates with the issues Heejung faces with her past, and so after that they click really well. Jiwoo is probably my second favorite route in the game. Heejung really shines in this route, and Jiwoo helps Heejung to find her true passion in life. Jiwoo is commented to be around 18/19 years old, and his route is only one of two (the other being Jihae’s) where we find out their true/original name.
Jiyeon…I had high hopes for Jiyeon’s route due to his perceived personality, but my hopes were dashed and many curse words and face-palming ensued in this route. At first glance, Jiyeon is a very hyperactive, social, and adorable cat/guy. He loves oranges and anything orange flavored or scented, loves baths, and just has this way with being so freaking adorable. He’s always super happy, misuses words just to be cute, and absolutely adores Heejung. He even gets a cell phone so he can call her whenever he wants to hear her voice~ I have a thing for adorable, happy go lucky guys.
Sadly though his personality takes a complete 180 once Heejung starts developing feelings for him and spoiling him. He turns into a giant jackass that emotionally abuses Heejung and constantly insults her, making Heejung this pathetic, depressed being that keeps going back for more abuse because she thinks that the Jiyeon she knew before was the “real” Jiyeon and this is a farce for whatever reason. So she lets Jiyeon get her into shitty situations that leave her crying and looking like crap all because she thinks the “real” Jiyeon will come back to her. Even his tragic past story could not redeem Jiyeon for me and at his ending I wanted to take his damn orange and shove it in his mouth. Jiyeon is described as being around the same age as Jiwoo, so about 18/19. Worst route in my opinion.
*Sigh* Jihae <3~ Jihae’s route was the first route I did, and is by far my favorite. Jihae is a true bishi and gentlemen in the whole sense; Gorgeous, polite, reserved, thoughtful, and his voice is just simply deliciously deep and sexy. Even from the beginning of his route, he is constantly offering to help Heejung with the cooking and household chores, offering her compliments, and even calls her “My Lady” *swoon*. He never once says something offensive to the heroine, and it very much comes off as that is because he is truly polite and does not judge. Jihae is very close mouthed about his passions and likes since he is more about others than himself, but though comments here and there, Jihae seems to have an eye for art, cooking, and gardening.
Jihae is very close to Jieun, and even as animals it is implied that Jieun and Jihae were close before coming to Earth, which is compounded when they take human form and in their routes. Jihae very much dotes and serves on Jieun, and the reason for this is explained later on in his route. The two are very rarely found without each other in the beginning, and Jieun affectionately called Jihae “Eddie”. Jihae and Heejung’s relationship is pretty conservative for a good chunk of the route, with Jihae keeping his feelings at a distance from Heejung. Their kiss scene was just oh so heart melting when they both finally admitted how they felt. His tragic past and his wish made me honestly tear up a bit and really struck me emotionally because of just how good of a person he was despite what all had happened to him. For me, his ending was also the best and sweetest, even though sacrifices were made in his ending. Jihae’s real name is revealed in his past event and based on years and ages given by Jieun, Jihae is around 25 years old.
Jieun’s route was somewhat interesting, but pretty tame. For those of you worried about his route due to Jieun being the youngest out of the 5, the shota character, his route is very, very conservative, so theres no worry about feeling like a statutory rapist or cradle robber with his route. His route has zero “true” romance moments like kissing or anything like that. He does have a lot of hugging CGs and moments to make up for that though. I ended up doing Jieuns route last because he seemed the least interesting out of the bunch. He clings to Jihae like a child does to his mother’s skirts, very rarely talks, is somewhat anti-social, although he has a love for apples. Like, he is always eating them to the point Jihae scolds him and cuts him off.
Being the most mysterious out of the group, theres a lot of revelations in Jieuns route. A good portion of his route is spent on Jieun trying to become more independent with Heejungs help since his entire life he had Jihae do just about everything for him. Jieuns route is probably the closest to a “true end” the game has, and Jieun helps Heejung come to terms with her past, accept it, and grow and truly become independent herself. She’s probably the strongest character wise in Jieuns route. It’s obvious the two really care for each other, but they both know Jieun is young and there are rules, so their feelings are never expressed outright and as I said, they’re very conservative in their “relationship” if you could call it that. Near the end of his route, Jieun constantly talks about being excited for the day he becomes a man and is “taller”. His past is not particularly tragic, but is very relatable due to his age. Jieun is guessed to be around 15/16 years old.
After you complete all five characters good ends, you unlock a 6th side story/event, which revolves around the Wizard and is kind of a “behind the scenes” look at the Wizard’s motives and all about the Game. All of the endings are for the most part bittersweet, although they are quite open. The endings are not the final chapter in Heejung and her mans story and you can imagine them to either have a truly happy, or sad, ending. Dandelion isn’t a happily ever after story. In every single ending, the couple must make sacrifices to be together, some more heartbreaking than others. For this reason, I would recommend playing the routes in this order (I did Jihae, Jiwoo, Jiyeon, Jisoo, Jieun):
Jisoo–> Jiwoo–> Jiyeon–> Jihae –> Jieun
I think this is probably the best way to play the routes due to the fact that the “endings” get progressively happier, imo, taking this order, and the information revealed in this order helps you to understand events in the next route better. For example, the Game and the Wizard are explained quite a bit in Jisoo and Jiwoos route, while they are barely mentioned in Jiyeon, Jihae, and Jieuns routes. Because I played Jihaes first, I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on in this part of the story. You could probably trade Jisoo and Jiwoos route if you want to do Jiwoo first since both of their routes explain events and the endings are the most open.
Despite its faults, Dandelion is a solid Otome game and one of the better otomes in English that I have come across (There are some decent indie ones out there though). I would recommend Dandelion to anyone who is interested in otome and slice of life VNs, who can deal with the DRM system that comes with the game, and isn’t looking for, or is ok with, happily ever after endings. Cheritz did a good job in producing a professional Korean VN and I am looking forward to more titles from them in the future; they definitely have my wallet waiting for their next VN Nameless. The English market is sorely lacking in better quality otomes.
Final Score: 80%
Gorgeous high def art, including semi-animated paper dolls, with a fitting soundtrack and great voice acting; Even the heroine and side cast is voiced. Refreshing and relatable heroine (Although sometimes frustrating) unlike most otome games doll-like, weak, and almost non-existent personality heroines. Interesting fantasy meets slice of life storyline. Most characters are fleshed out fairly well, with compelling histories that help the reader understand their personality more rather than being just a filler. Simulation elements (VNs with gameplay elements are always a plus for me). Awesome menu goodies/unlockables not commonly found in other VNs such event replays for every single scene, including all of the common and character routes, preliminary/bonus character sketches and art, and a 6th “behind the scenes” route/event.
While interesting, the story is not amazing, especially original, or thought provoking; It’s very much a slice of life with fantasy elements peppered in. I’m not huge into slice of life stories. I think more could of been done with the Wizard and the animals original world story wise. Typos are scattered throughout here and there, most noticeably in Jisoo’s route; I’m pretty sure Jisoo’s route either was not QC’d or done so terribly due to the sheer amount of typos in his route compared to the others. They wern’t bad enough to make sentences unintelligible, but they were annoying.
The game employs an “always on” DRM and forces you to log onto Cheritz’s server every time you load up the game. Each event script loads off of Cheritz’s server too, so you can’t log in online initially then play the game offline. I only had a server issue once with the game, but I still hate always online DRM systems. Other “animal” characters become nearly non-existent once you enter a characters route, only making slight appearances here and there. Like, seriously, it’s like they all went “Oh, she didn’t pick me, I don’t want to talk to you anymore”.
Oh, and no Heejae route. (Although I did get a bad ending where he creepily comes onto you and rants about his parents chicken restaurant) Hes such a cute, shy, and awkward cutie <3~
Available for sale in English with both a digital and hardcopy release for PC
VN and Localization by Cheritz