Review: Cinders (PC)

We gave Cinders a spin today and WOW. It was amazing, though this comes from a text-based/point-and-click adventure lover. Here are our thoughts on it:

Cinders is everything its developers promised, and then some. Apart from the deep storyline with its mature themes and consequences and multiple endings, Cinders has gorgeous, gorgeous art and haunting, superbly immersive BGM. The audio is really what gives the game its replayability. Each step of the way, in every location, are different BGM that makes you feel like you’re in the game, in the mystical fairy world that artist Gracjana Zielinska created.

Each character is lovingly detailed, though we must say the female characters are some of the best drawn. It makes sense, given how they’re the focus of the game, but one feels the men in Cinders could have been better designed. Breaking the fairy tale stereotype, they look less like what you’d expect as a surly Captain of the Guard and a Prince Charming to be. There were minimal character animations, which we felt could have been done without – the characters’ lips moving was just unnecessary and added nothing to the game – and made it bizarre overall.

While the grammar nazi in me was a bit put off by some typos, most noticeably how the Prince is called Basile over his text boxes but is introduced as Basil, the storyline is still pretty damn engaging. It’s made even more so by choices that come at the perfect points in the game.

Each choice you make is tracked by a branch of flowers at the top right corner of your screen, and these flowers grow as you progress in the game. The ability to scroll in between scenes and decisions by simply flicking your mouse wheel screams considerate game design as well. We just wish you could click on the ‘trophy unlocked’ popup to see what exactly you achieve.

There is a lot of text to digest, but the story moves at a good, rollicking pace. It begins at a climatic plot point, making you wonder what has happened. The anxiety of needing to know makes the game all the more enjoyable as you play through – and the clickety-click of text appearing is deliciously addictive, too.

We won’t reveal any more of the plot, because it differs enough from the original fable to stand strong on its own. But rest assured it’ll be a good yarn for those who enjoy the fantasy/fairy tale genre. There are certain characters who deserve more back stories, but as they are, the lack of info about them doesn’t take away from the game.

The screenshots in the gallery above won’t spoil the game; instead we hope they’ll encourage you to give it a spin. The full version of Cinders costs US$22.95, which is a bit more than what most indie games go for, but we think it’s well worth it, given the amount of heart that has gone into Cinders.

MoaCube really needs to do some serious proofreading, though…

Graphics 9.0
Amazingly gorgeous, and the style really sets the mood of the game. Could have done without the characters’ lips moving though. The men could have been handsomer (?).
Sound 10.0
Immersive and all-encompassing. More than the gameplay, the choice of BGM as well as audio effects of the text make the game!
Nothing to say here, because this is really just you clicking on a choice every now and then. Props to the smooth animation and text though.
Lasting Appeal 10.0
Cinders boasts 120 decisions, 300 choices and multiple endings. We’ve just reached one ending… Gotta catch em all!
How the RGB Scoresheet works

Cinders is a visual novel developed and published by MoaCube for Windows and the Mac OS. It was released on June 20th 2012.