Cinders Review

Cinders Review

Dawn Appelberg weighs in on this sophisticated look at the Cinderella story

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Cinders - Interview with MoaCube Lead Designer Tom Grochowiak - May 11, 2014

When I received Cinders and began to read the "choose your own adventure" tale I realized there was another gamer in the house who would love doing this particular review more than I. I handed the game to my daughter, Katrina Appelberg, age 8.

The Question and Answer session:

Q: Is it challenging to play Cinders?

A: Not at all. It’s fun and too easy, but I think my friends would love it. I love it.

Q: Which is your favorite character? Your Least? Why?

A: My favorite character is Cinders. I do not like her stepmother. Her stepmother is cruel. Cinders is nice.

Q: What improvements could be done to the game?

A: Making her stepmother nice like Cinders.

Q: Give me your synopsis of the game.

A: Hmmm. The game is about Cinders who is in a room listening to her sister's conversation in the beginning. The story is so amazing. The stepmother makes her go see an old friend of hers. She runs into all sorts of people that help her make decisions. It’s about a young girl who is trying to help a stepsister become nice because her stepsister's sister is cruel and the stepmother is cruel too.

Q: What about the Prince?

A: What Prince?

Q: The one in the castle?

A: Oh, him. I like his best friend better. He beats up cruel men all by himself and then vanishes. The prince just stays in the castle all day long.

Q: Would you like to be Cinders?

A: No! She has to sleep in the kitchen!

Interview over, as at that point Katrina remembered she had a playdate with a friend of hers.

As for the adult gamer in the house: While the game may be attractive for some adults, I have to relegate it to the realm of preteen to teenage girls for the most part. The more in-depth, behind-the-scenes look as to how Cinderella (AKA Cinders) ended up a princess and how, with a few different decisions, she may have had a completely different ending, does lead to some deep thinking. The game is more in-depth than the standard storylines; however, there is not enough actual interaction with the game to keep most adults involved. The language used is also fairly young, with simplistic phrases written as if speaking to a younger generation, such as a teenager reading a romance novel.

The "choose your own decision" scenario as the story takes a life of its own reminds one of the books in 6th grade where, flipping to page 20, you either found the key - or fell down a well and died. The only real difference is you cannot undo your decision in Cinders.

It also reminds me of the olden days when the original computer games were DOS-based, and you used written text to, for instance, go through a doorway or under a stairwell. Flashbacks of Commodore 64 eras gone by does NOT mean a poorly-constructed game by any means. The game is well-written and executed for its directive, and meets all the requirements it sets out to accomplish.

That is not to say there is not an audience for this sort of game. There are many who would enjoy reading through a fairy tale and putting their own interpretations into it.

I do think the game is a good learning tool for preteen and teenaged girls if you are attempting to teach them that every decision they make has consequences. It is a fun way to attempt to take control of some of the more routine things that occur in their lives, such as an “annoying sister” or a “nagging mother.”  It also is a great critical thinking tool to utilize, as the rich storyline unfolds based on personal decisions and personal perceptions of how to handle them.

One thing that is a little disturbing is the reinforced over-the-top feminist undertone. Literally every other decision ends with a strong reinforcer of a female not needing anyone to tell her what to do, or not needing anyone at all. needing anyone at all. To make sure I had not been reading too much into it, I scoured a few other reviews and found many saw the same trend. The publishers just pushed a little too hard on the message.

The graphics remind one of old English art with such detail and depth that the cut scene image of the lake is now my wallpaper. Gracjana Zielinska creates landscapes and portraits in lush colors and bold lines, as well as tapestry-like detail. The music is an orchestrated backstory all its own, leaning into the written tale with a  romantic aura. It definitely gives a nuance of a quiet afternoon reading a good book.

All-in-all this is a different sort of game than I am used to playing, and actually not one I would find in my library. While this is not a bad game or a poorly created game, it is not one I would recommend for adult gamers. However, for a house full of young girls? This one is a definite must-have.

System Requirements:

PC (Minimum):
OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8
Memory: 512 MB RAM
DirectX: Version 9.0
Hard Drive: 200 MB available space

Mac (Minimum):
OS: OS X 10.5 or higher
Memory: 512 MB RAM
Hard Drive: 200 MB available space

Grade: B
 
+ Detailed and in-depth graphics reminiscent of old English art.
+ A good learning tool for preteen and teenaged girls
- Has a feminist undertone that's a bit much
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