Cradle of Thorns is a short kinetic novel for mobile devices recently released by KOYONPLETE.
Note: The English translation for this game is extremely poor. In fact, I don’t believe that KOYONPLETE should be charging money for something of this quality. Fortunately you can change the language options, so I was also able to play it in Japanese too, and this review will be based on the Japanese version.
**This review will contain spoilers!**
Joshua and Johann are twin brothers who live alone in a secluded mansion after the death of their parents 7 years ago. Joshua is weak and depends on his brother for everything, dividing his time between sleeping and going out into the rose gardens that surround the property. One day Joshua meets a girl named Birdie out in the garden who tells him that his brother is wrong about the dangers of the outside world, and encourages him leave the confines of the mansion… But of course, his doting brother isn’t going to be too happy about this.
First things first, this kinetic novel is very short. It only took me around 20 minutes to read through, so bear that in mind if you’re considering purchasing it. I do like short stories, but in this case I think it could have benefited from a few extra chapters to flesh out the characters a bit more, particularly Birdie. The emotional impact of the ending is lessened since we don’t really get to know her at all.
While it is an all-ages title, the story is a dark and twisted, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of yandere characters. I don’t want to spoil it too much but, while some reviews have complained of the ending being too abrupt, I thought it was perfect. I wouldn’t say no to a sequel though!
Only three characters appear in the story – Joshua, Johann, and Birdie. We don’t spend long enough with Birdie to get to know her, but her design is cute.
Joshua is the frail, melancholy twin smothered by his brother Johann’s love and overprotectiveness, and Johann is the perfect yandere. I loved the interactions between these two, with the hints of shonen-ai and twincesty-ness. Their relationship is messed up in so many ways, but that’s what makes it so interesting!
I adore the artwork in this game with its soft watercolour style, muted palette, and liberal use of rose imagery. Unfortunately though there are only 5 CGs to collect, and you don’t get a gallery for them.
The sprites are lovely too, and while Joshua and Johann are identical twins, the subtle differences in their expressions set them apart and bring each of them to life in their own way.
The music is surprisingly varied for such a short game, and some of the tracks are beautifully melancholy, making the perfect haunting accompaniment.
Despite its brevity, this is a wonderful, dark little story with gorgeous artwork and atmospheric music. A fantastic game for otome yandere fans, if a little overpriced.