Cinders is a reimagining of the timeless classic Cinderella story, with a more mature take on the classic. This game is all about choice; how you wish to interact with the people you meet will change the narrative of the story.
Cinders is a visual novel, so from a gameplay perspective, there is not much to do. It was like reading one of the ‘choose your own adventure’ books I had when I was young.
Reading With Choices
Once you start ‘playing’ Cinders, you can press A to continue reading and also to show the entire text at once, or there is the option of tapping the screen to do the same. Pressing A also allows you to select a response to one of the 120 decision points, and there are over 300 choices within Cinders. Some of the choices will display a branch in the corner of the screen; this notifies the player that this is a choice that will change the story.
There is the option to go back to the start of a narrative to the last choice made (all choices are final) by pressing L, which lets you re-read the whole part again in case you missed something. The inclusion of this is a good idea but I think it’s implemented poorly; I wish there was a way to go back to a point in the narrative that was skipped. I tried the feature out when I jumped passed something and it turned out to only be two text boxes from the end.
Lastly, if you are going back to do another playthrough of Cinders after finishing at least once, any of the narratives you have seen before can be skipped by holding down B. I did not get to try this feature as I just about managed one playthrough.
The music was a very relaxing melodic affair with magical undertones. There were also some background noises but they were nothing amazing. Unfortunately, there was no voice acting in Cinders. This is understandable with the amount of text that was in the game, but I believe that it would have gone a long way towards making Cinders more interesting.
Visuals & Performance
Visually, Cinders looked alright, there were no moving backgrounds but they were all hand-drawn, to a high quality. It’s the same with the characters within the novel, there wasn’t much movement from the characters. The facial expressions would change depending on what was said to them, or an arm would move in a rough looking stop-motion style action.
Of course, if there was too much going on on-screen at one time then players may get distracted so movement is kept to a minimum. I wanted more animation at least, to give the background some life to them such as ripples on water or a tavern sign moving in the breeze.
With each changing static background appeared a falling of red petals on the screen, as if magic had been present. As the words were appearing on the screen, there was also a spark emanating from where the words were coming from. It looked nice and gave off a fairy tale feel. Performance was also good, I didn’t notice any slow down or stuttering. I only played in handheld mode and had no issues with it.
Cinders comes in at $19.99 USD or £17.99 GBP on the eShop. If you are a fan of the Visual Novel genre then this is a reasonable price. It is more involved than a regular book, with a fair amount of replayability. I have seen some Visual Novels priced at £40, though others such as NAIRI: Tower of Shirin have excelled at a lower price point.
Was well drawn
It was fairly well written
No voice acting
Felt dragged out