A newly launched title by a newly launched imprint, Villains Are Destined to Die takes us through a journey of survival as a dating sim’s ultimate villainess.
Ivonne, a present-day woman, is finally free from the cage of her family, i.e. she moves to a new place when she starts university. However, her friend gets her into playing a game: Daughter of the Duke’s Super Love Project. It’s a dating game where the heroine needs to win the affection of five love interests. Ivonne plays under peer pressure, but when she finishes the game in normal mode in just a matter of hours, she goes for the hard mode—she’ll have to play the game as Penelope Eckhart, the ultimate villainess. But, when she goes to bed, she doesn’t wake up as Ivonne anymore. She has become, drum roll please, Penelope from the dating game.
Ivonne, now Penelope, has to find a way to survive and go back to the real world. Because in hard mode, all roads lead to death for Penelope. Thankfully, as she has tried to clear the game in hard mode, she knows the worst options that will lead to her immediate death, but it’s not easy to avoid them. As the adopted daughter of a duke, Penelope has a lot of power. However, neither the duke nor her older brothers care about her. She’s mistreated and blamed for everything. While the real Penelope might have caused a ruckus, Ivonne has had experience with these types of people since she was a child, and she won’t let them mistreat poor Penelope now that the two are the same person.
I fell for this title from the first few pages. The story drags you in whether you want it or not, and you cannot put it down until you reach the last page. The author and illustrator did a great job in representing the characters and giving them their own voices and personalities. Not one of them seems to have any similar aspects to the others (unless you count how good-looking they all are). Will you pity Penelope by reading this manhwa? Yes. Will you cheer for the love interests? No. Although handsome and almost perfect, they are all cold and have some issue with the villainess. We get to know four of them in the first volume, with the fifth and last one being only mentioned, but you can’t avoid becoming curious about him. Penelope’s two adopted brothers have never really accepted her in their family, and one of them even goes out of his way to make life hard for her. The empire crown prince is a bloodthirsty mad dog. One is a slave. And one is a nobleman who is also the head of a secret information guild who happens to find the real daughter of the duke who disappeared years ago which causes Penelope’s downfall (in the game at least).
While the original Penelope might seem like a spoiled child, the more we read, the more we realise what really happened to her and that she’s just a product of the environment she was raised in. Ivonne is the same too, but she takes a completely different route. Penelope’s story is very similar to Ivonne’s real life, and Ivonne has had to develop a thick skin out of necessity. So no matter who mistreated Penelope in the past, she’ll make them pay and she won’t let anyone else use her as a doormat.
Compared to other manhwa, this is quite dark, not only in terms of the story but also of the cover. There are no bright colours on the cover like other titles released by Ize Press, and the only finish used is some spot UV (the shiny parts), which make the title stand out from the dark design.
Villains Are Destined to Die is written by Gwen Gyeoeul and illustrated by SUOL. It was released in 2022 by Ize Press, a newly launched imprint from Yen Press that only focuses on Korean manhwa, with an English translation by David Odell. Volume 2 is expected to be released in February 2023.