Reviews, Webtoon

Villains are Destined to Die Vol. 1 Review: An Otome Game She Wants to Escape From

Continue to read about a villainess who doesn’t want love but just a way to escape a popular otome game that continuously tries its best to kill her.

Villains are Destined to Die Cover
Image: Ize Press / Yen Press
By: Lost Sundae Feb 28, 2024, 9:30 AM

Villains are Destined to Die Vol. 1

Review
Rating
9
Good
Villains are Destined to Die Cover

Writer: Gwon Gyeoeul

Artist: SUOL

Publisher: Ize Press / Yen Press

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Page Count: 264

Format: Tpb-comic

Stuck in an otome game with handsome men and riches would be the dream of a lot of women, but not for Penelope Eckhart who just wants out. A romantic tale you will want to read by the end of my review!

If you’re into the villainess otome isekai genre, then Villains Are Destined to Die is one of the classics you should read. The genre is a personal favorite of mine as I love a good isekai story that explores the world of otome games through a protagonist who somehow finds love along the way. This captivating series stands out with its unique critique of the genre while still being a fun and relatable read. Plus, the artwork is one of my favorites so far amongst webtoons. Read on to delve into the world of the cold and calculating villainess, Penelope Eckhart.

Overview

After years of living through a neglectful relationship with her estranged father and two older half-brothers, Siyeon Cha gains newfound freedom when she starts college. Everything was well until she started playing the otome game, The Daughter of the Duke’s Super Love Project. After falling asleep from a hard night of binge-playing, she mysteriously awakens as the game’s villainess, Penelope Eckhart. Now, as Penelope, she must avoid death flags in the form of her in-game brothers and love interests (especially the crazy crown prince) and find a way back to the real world.

Villains are Destined to Die - villainImage: Tapas

Review

Like my last review on Omniscient Reader, what drew me to this webtoon was the protagonist, Siyeon, especially for how she takes on the persona of Penelope, the game’s villainess. From what I’ve seen on social media, many readers seem to think Penelope is an intense villainess because of her unsympathetic character and questionable behavior. While I won’t deny that those aren’t true about her, I only ask you to give her a chance before judging! The fascinating aspect of Siyeon’s character is how her life in South Korea mirrors so much of her new life in the game she’s trapped in. Because she lived with her estranged father and two irritating older brothers after her mother died, Siyeon is familiar with being part of a toxic and indifferent household. Thus, Siyeon’s sadness when she realizes her transmigration into the otome game is painfully similar to the life she left behind in Korea. That alone gives her enough reason to devise a plan to escape the game and avoid death, making her one of the few webtoon characters I’ve read who’d rather be back in the real world. After all, who wants to be trapped in an otome game that’s more like a nightmare than a fantasy?

Once placed into the world of The Daughter of the Duke’s Super Love Project., Siyeon/Penelope faces classic elements of otome games: Choices of pre-determined responses, affection meters for the love interests, attractive men, and, of course, endless plot twists that lead to “death flags.” These death flags keep tensions high throughout the story because one wrong response by Siyeon could lead to her demise. But, in a unique twist, Siyeon uses her knowledge of the game to get out of problematic situations. For instance, the first trial she must overcome involves dealing with a condescending maid who serves her rotten food. Since she has already played a bit through Penelope’s route, she selects the correct answer that avoids instant death. The story is filled with moments of Siyeon using her cunning and survivalist mindset to make it through the game. 

Villains are Destined to Die - happy girlImage: Tapas

However, Siyeon is no expert at the game either. She still faces many unexpected challenges, especially when managing the “affection meters” of the different characters. Among the most intriguing relationships she has in the game are the ones she has with her brothers, Reynold and Derrick. While they do have affection meters like the game’s love interests, the story establishes early on that the relationship is purely familial. So, you don’t need to worry about the story possibly dipping into taboo territory. What’s compelling about that relationship route is that Reynold and Derrick are mirror reflections of Siyeon’s brothers back in Korea. Call it PTSD, but she firmly believes associating with the two will bring her nothing but misery. The story shows how being forced to relive her tragic life in an otome game is maddening for Siyeon. That pain brings out her more unforgiving and bitter side, which is befitting of Penelope’s personality. I personally find this interesting since Siyeon admits to sharing a connection with Penelope more than the sympathetic heroine of the game. Those details in her character point to Siyeon being ready to embrace darker methods to succeed in her plans, even if they border villainous behavior.

So, who are the actual love interests in this dangerous game? Who are the keys to her escape? There’s Winter Verdandi, a white-cloaked sorcerer. As of volume one, his presence is limited only to one scene. But that scene alone is enough to show you his presence as the beautiful and mysterious gentleman of the group. On the other hand, there is Callisto Regulus, the crazy crown prince. He is quite the doozy, to say the least, as he nearly stabs Penelope in the throat when they first meet. Penelope only makes it out alive because of her quick and desperate thinking to declare her “love” for him. While Penelope does not actually have feelings for the prince, she knows she must do anything necessary to survive. With a foundation like that for their relationship, you can already tell things get a little spicy between them. Then finally, there is Eckles, the slave from a fallen nation. Sadly, he doesn’t show up in the first volume until the very end. But having read more ahead myself, I will say that he is also a very endearing figure but sly in his own way. Like the classic otome games this manhwa lovingly takes inspiration from, each character adds unique layers to the story through their distinct and captivating personalities. I don’t want to reveal much more than that since I implore you all to read this amazing series yourselves! 

Villains are Destined to Die - girl with red hairImage: Ize Press

Final Thoughts

I recommend reading this webtoon if you want a story where the villainess is unapologetic about herself. While Penelope can be seen as a morally gray character, this manhwa’s tale is more about a woman fighting to survive and escape the game she is trapped in. Despite her cold and harsh personality, we can expect Penelope to find love along the way, whether she likes it or not. That’s what makes this webtoon fun and worth reading. So, are you in need of a villainess otome isekai story with a darker and bitter edge? Then this is the one for you. 

Why You Should Read Villains Are Destined to Die

  • Its protagonist is unafraid of acting as the villain.
  • The love interests are all unique, and there’s a type for most readers (bonus: eye candy).
  • The story offers a good mix of romance, drama, and conflict.
  • It explores more mature tones and plotlines.
TAGGED: Ize Press, Yen Press, Tapas
A new home for fans and creators of comics, manga, webtoons, and more
© 2022 MASTERFILE CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. GONKBONK AND ALL RELATED TITLES, LOGOS AND CHARACTERS ARE TRADEMARKS OF MASTERFILE CO.