Cinders is a hardworking young woman in a rich household that is currently run by her strict stepmother Lady Carmosa. She is also the mother of her two stepsisters, Sophia and Gloria. After her fathers death, those three women are turning her life into hell as they're treating her like a housemaid and act more than rude towards her. Though they are not leaving her much free room to move, Cinders is trying to make the best out of her situation and wants to change her future. As she makes up her mind she is able to cover up more mysteries about her real mother and manages to take a step into the inhuman side of this world in order to achieve her goal. But not only freedom is in her interest. There are also potential love candidates such as her childhood friend, a loyal knight, and maybe even the prince...?
Age Rating: N/A
Date of Release: June 20, 2012
Voice Cast: N/A
If you look at the title picture and the empty voice cast list, it is probably obvious that Cinders is no ordinary Otome Game, it is not even officially considered as one. Still, it is a great game and I would everyone encourage to try it out since I had great experiences with it. And although it might lack something as important as voice actors, it contains a heroine you can change to your likes and a variety in choices that I would love to see with more Otome Games that have nothing special in their gameplay and still get far too much attention. Plus, it is in english so there is no difficultys in understanding the language.
Let's start with a deeper introduction into the plot and the system. As some of you may have guessed already, this game is based off the well-known fairytale "Cinderella". But other than there, Cinders conveys a more serious and political view of the fairytale which I find simply brilliant. The game plays in the time when the normality of fighting wars to achieve might becomes less and less and although it is a good thing for princes and kings not having to fight, the game displays you also the view of how the knights feel about this change. It doesn't matter which love candidate you go for, you get insight of that in every playthrough. Of course, if you interact more with the people who are affected by this, you are going to get more information about it, but the base is always there.
The system is mainly about getting information on how achieving your freedom/success. So basically, this is yet another journey to your personal Happy End. The special thing about this is though how you get to that point. I've only seen very few Otome Games with so many choices and even the opportunity to form your own character. During the game you have 120 times where you will need to make decisions and that equals about 300 choices to choose from. And this game is not even that long. It is rather short and I don't think you need more than about maybe 1-2 hours to accomplish it, yet every of these choices is important for your ending.
These choices also make it possible for your character to develop in different ways. There is a certain sign that will always appear when something Cinders does or says is the result of another choice. So if Cinders is asked something for example she will react the way you have forged her up to that point which I find very interesting since the issue of a lame heroine is basically out of the way since you decide how she will be.
The graphics in this game are simply mind-blowing. Although the character designs are not really my cup of cake, I must say that the artist made it look very artistic and I bet she has put a lot of effort in them. The backgrounds were definitely my favourite of the game graphics. They look so... alive and kind of magical, which is totally fitting to the atmosphere of the game. The only thing I can criticize here is that we have nothing like CGs. That means no art gallery and no sweet little pictures between certain dialogues. But to be honest, when you're in the flow of the game you don't really miss them much because it's not that long anyways.
The music is also beautiful. While I personally don't really like calm music at all and prefer catchy and a more rockish kind of music, the playlist is simply relaxing and during scenes at the Fairy Lake it is wonderfully fitting the scenery.
The characters in this game are kind of parted in three groups you could say. The love candidates are having an open personality. You don't have to interact much with them to understand them. Cinders 'family' is very twisted. They seem to be sadistic, cruel and wicked but if you choose the right choices during their conversations with you, they might even tell you what is on their mind for real and what really makes them act like they do. Last but not least the magical creatures are mysterious. They have many secrets around them which partly last until the end of the game so you have to fully depend on your intuition on whom to trust or not.
Prince Basil is obviously the 'jackpot' in the game, although it is quite easy to get him since you're asked about it at every end of the game. You don't get to interact with him until the end of the game though you get scenes with him and Perrault. Basically, he's looking for a witty woman who is not faking her personality to gain his attention. He's also a proponent of the improving political system and prefers to discuss solutions instead of settling them with a fight.
Perrault is a loyal knight of Prince Basil. He was bravely fighting for Prince Basil's father and thus he is depressed that the era of combat is finding its end. He has no clue about political affairs whatsoever which is also adding to his fear of not becoming useful to the prince anymore.
Tobias is Cinders childhood friend. He owns a small little shop in the town and lives the normal life of a salesman though he seems to have some secrets with Lady Carmosa.
Lady Carmosa is Cinders stepmother. She is focused on earning money so she can stabilize their mansion and for the sake of her success she wants one of her daughters to marry the prince. She is eager to reach the top class of society and uses Cinder as housemaid so she can focus on more important things.
Gloria is the eldest daughter of Carmosa. She listens to everything what her mother says and is almost obsessed to fulfill her wishes. Unfortunately this made her dependent on Carmosa which is why she fails to have an own personality as she doesn't know anything about herself.
Sophia is the youngest daughter and Glorias sister. She is a very cynical person and sees the aim for social success as a big joke. Her sarcastic and harassing comments caused a bad relationship to her sister since Sophia keeps to criticize her lack of personality.
Madame Ghede is the current witch of the town. She never stays at one place that long because the townfolks start to accuse her of unluck after some time. She is one of your potential supporters in the game and seems to have had a good relationship to Cinders mother.
The Fairy is also a potential supporter in the game. Same as Madame Ghede, she also has had a bond with Cinders mother, though it is often implied that this bond did have consequences to her. Her true intentions are kept hidden.
The game has four endings and more than 40 options to combine them. For example, if you get The Fairytale Ending, you can be a fair queen and have the prince as a love interest. But you can also be a fair queen and have Perrault as love interest. You can also be an evil queen and have Tobias as love interest, there is an endless amount of different combinations. You just need to be careful which choices you make.9.0 And that is why my rating of this game is so high. I did think of giving it a 9.5 but I guess that would be a little too much. After all, it does lack some kind of simple things as CGs and as mentioned the background music was not really my cup of tea but all these are just personal issues and the game system really pushes the rating up.
The game itself was simply amazing. I would've appreciated it if it was longer but looking at the great effort the story writers did, you can easily look over that. I just love making so many decisions and that's why I enjoyed this game greatly. It's really rare to see so much main character development of your own character. I was totally amazed how Cinders personality would shape considering my decisions. So if you like to make many decisions in a game you should definitely try this one out. It also has a free demo available so it doesn't hurt to try and build up your own opinion.