It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of visual novels, particularly of the dating sim variety. It’s also no secret that I am high fantasy trash. So when I saw Rose of Winter, a game that combines all of these things, I knew I had to play it. And I was so not disappointed.
The premise behind Rose of Winter is a simple one, you play as Rose, an aspiring knight, off to take on a new job. This job happens to be an escort mission, and you have the choice of picking between four different princes who are looking for your aid. Of course, all of these princes are incredibly hunky, a fact that our thirsty protagonist does not ignore. You’ve got your hot male Thumbelina (yes, really), a five year old prince and his hot, roguish guardian, your big muscled orc guy, and a dragon prince. They’re all looking for someone to help getting through the dangerous mountain pass.
Each suitor’s plotline is unique, and they all subvert tropes – the damsel trope (all of them do this, because these guys need Rose’s brawn and smarts to make their journey safely), the tough guy who’s a total fraud. It’s an exceptionally well written game, not a surprise given it’s made by Alana the Lioness and Ursula K. LeGuin fans, but even better, it actually surprised me. I loved every suitor more than the last one, and this game accomplishes the incredibly difficult task of making the one human suitor the most interesting route in a game with a freakin’ hot dragon prince. Each route is funny and horny and sweet and sometimes sad. It’s also highly replayable, with at least two different outcomes for each route.
Another great thing about Rose of Winter is its diversity. Rose herself is a plus sized woman, and this is a rare thing in videogames. (So rare I’ve recently written about it elsewhere.) But the game never body shames, and Rose never body shames herself either. If anything, her size is brought up as a positive. And this is the first dating game I’ve ever played that had a plus size protagonist, and I think it’s so important to have representation like this. It means a LOT that a fat woman can be a protagonist in a romance anything, so I absolutely adore that Rose of Winter took the chance on it. Even better, she’s a fat femme, like me. They also went to a lot of effort to make sure all of the romance options aren’t all white, which is also wonderful. I basically have never felt more pandered to than I did playing Rose of Winter, and that doesn’t happen very often.
Rose of Winter is available now on Steam or itch.io.