Jun 26, 2012

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Cinders Review

Cinders Review

We all have heard the fairy tale of the girl raised like a servant by her step-mother and step-sisters. And if you watched the Disney version, you know that the girl managed to go to a ball with thanks to her fairy godmother and animal friends. Cinderella has the happy ending that, as kids, we expected. The girl married her Prince Charming and never had to worry about the evil step-mother and sisters ever again. MoaCube’s take on this fairy tale doesn’t follow the whole black and white template of good and evil. In fact, Cinders gives a new approach by allowing players to get to know each of the four key characters and their motives for behaving in the manner that they do.

If you haven’t realized by now Cinders is a visual novel. As such, there isn’t too much in the sense of controls. You click the screen to advance the story. When the dialogue gets to a point in which you must choose an option, you can pick from any that are presented. Depending on the choices you make, the story branches off into different directions. Do you choose to sneak out of the house and run into a shady character? Or do you try to stay on your step-mother’s good side by staying home and missing out on what could be a one-in-a-lifetime meeting? There are over a hundred unique decision points in the game, with hundreds of options that can be a pivotal point in unlocking any of the many different endings.

The story is basically a retelling of the classic tale Cinderella. One key difference is how the stepmother and stepsisters are handled. Yes, you can tell that the three women treat Cinders badly. Whether their cold exterior is a result of trying to maintain some form of social standing among nobility or trying to please their mother, it is evident that these women are putting up a front. Though the story focuses primarily on Cinders and the choices she makes, each supporting character is given enough of a back story to not come off as flat or dull. There are multiple endings that you can unlock, each with varying portions. Don’t care to follow tradition and fall in love with the Prince? That’s fine; you can fall for either your childhood friend or the mysterious Captain of the Guard.

The artwork for Cinders is one of the best that I have seen for a visual novel. The colors really pop out and each character has an unique look that really fits with their personality. Another thing that compliments the title is the soundtrack. The music sets the mood for each scene. There is the lack of vocal tracks for the characters, but this doesn’t detract much from the experience; although I would have liked to haveheard the sharp edge in Cinders’ tone whenever she talks back to her stepmother.

My first playthrough lasted a few hours and each playthrough afterwards lasted less. One thing that I felt made unlocking all the different endings easier is the ability to fast forward through the scenes that you have already viewed. Replaying the game will likely be something that only those who want to unlock all the endings do.

Overall, this indie visual novel is enjoyable. Fans of the visual novel genre should definitely pick this game up. Those who are not, might prefer to try out the demo on the official site before putting down the $22.95 for it. MoaCube has a great title on their hands here and I really do hope that they give other fairy tales the same treatment that they gave Cinderella.

Platform: Mac, PC (reviewed)
Genre: Visual Novel
Release Date: June 20, 2012
Developer: MoaCube
Publisher: MoaCube
ESRB Rating: N/A
MSRP: $22.95