Cinders

Score: 7.5
Ages: 12+
2012

Cinders is a visual novel that tells the story of Cinderella with a feminist twist. Cinders does not wait around to be saved by her fairy godmother and the prince, she’s going to change her life by herself.

The story is set on the week before the infamous ball. There are several routes Cinders can take to release herself from her step-mother’s rule, and several people that can help her. How ruthless is she going to be?

Among the first things one notices about this game is the beautiful art. Also the character sprites are slightly animated with some mouth movement and changes of expressions, making them very lively. There could be more variation to the locations, but it’s not that relevant. Everything is so pleasing to my eyes.

All of the characters have their motives, making even the annoying step-family relatable in some level: while they are flawed people, they’re not really evil. The conversations between the characters are delightfully witty and sometimes snarky.

Considering the original story is a romantic princess fairy-tale, this game is surprisingly unromantic. In most of the endings Cinders doesn’t even pair up with any her potential love interests – at least not happily. The focus of the story is in her independence.

Cinders only knows one of her possible suitors before the game’s events, so the other two love stories consist only of some light flirting and a note how things will end up. Quite predictably I found the romantic route with the old friend the most enjoyable, as it was the only one that didn’t feel merely like an achievement. I wouldn’t really recommend this game for those who are mainly hoping for a grand romance.

There are only few places to visit but a lot of different choices that influence the ending. The “main endings” have some variation, there are different combinations of Cinders’ character and how she has handled the relationships with her family and the love interests.

Personally I found it very easy to be nice to one of the step-sisters but sucking up to the mother and the other sister seemed like a huge chore. Overall most of the choices are rather intuitive, also revealing their effect pretty soon.

The story doesn’t really have separate routes in it, and a single playthrough is pretty short. I’ve cleared all of the endings with most of the variations save for getting Cinders killed in 7 hours.

Cinders is an entertaining and pretty game with some interesting bits, but I’d shave just a little bit off the full price. I’m certainly getting my money’s worth, as I buy almost everything on a discount anyway.

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