Moacube’s Cinders Impressions and Review

In honor of it now being available on Steam, I revisited Moacube’s Cinders.

  • Basic Premise: Shape Cinderella’s character, attitude, and reactions to her upbringing and choose how she escapes. The many character trait and action choices that actually impact the story’s end make this visual novel stand out. I’ve played through it several times and still have not found all the paths.

  • Music: Most visual novels’ and sims’ soundtracks have me hunting for the mute button, but this one is gorgeous. You can download the soundtrack here.

  • Visuals: Gracjana Zielinska’s art has a detailed, ethereal quality without becoming prissy or cutesy.  It’s beautiful.  I’m so pleased she’s returning for Solstice.

  • Programming: I appreciate the ability to quickly skip through already viewed scenes with one button press.  All visual novels should implement this.

  • Writing:

    • *thunk*

    • *thunk*

    • *thunk*

    • That noise, dear friend, is the characters’ dialog and the insights into their behavior being delivered with all the subtlety of a frying pan to the back of the skull. The reader is never left to infer anything. Cinders’ inner monologue or other characters will spell it out. During the first long conversation between Cinders and Sophia, they tell their back-story and motivations to one another without the reservation and self-protection that the back-story would naturally have bred.

    • It drove me crazy until I remembered Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Yes, the two works don’t seem to have much in common but bear with me. Like Karazmov, Cinders uses characters to represent a consistent type of person rather than how you and I would interact on a day-to-day basis. Once you go with it, they both deliver a good story and observations on human nature.

    • Boom. A 2012 visual novel saved by Dostoevsky.

  • Writing: The banter between characters usually makes me smirk (Sophia and Gloria should have their own spin-off). The only exception is the romantic dialog. Excuse me for a moment, game, while I fetch some nachos to go with all this cheese. Fortunately, the game has many endings with no romance whatsoever.

  • Writing: The grammar, spelling, and word choice are nearly perfect. Kudos to the editor.

  • Female Characters: The writers clearly spent more of their effort developing the women. Cinders, Carmosa, Gloria, Sophia, and Madame Ghede all have distinct personalities and goals. Sophia’s snark is always welcome: “The only things missing from this picture is holding hands and singing. And dancing. Possibly in circles. In the middle of a flowery meadow. I think I might throw up.” I want an ending in which she and Cinders escape together.

  • Male Characters: The men aren’t bad, but they lack the depth and care the women received. I won’t dwell on them (particularly since the developer has already addressed this), but here’s a brief run-down.

    • Tobias: A childhood friend who tends to deliver motivation speaker advice with the aforementioned frying pan; I want to like you, Toby, but you have to stop thwacking me over the head.

    • Perrault: A guard captain caught between duty and ethics, he is my favorite of the three.

    • Prince Basile: The least developed of the three, though the conversations between him and Perrault are good. He and Cinders discuss Levia Malich’s work in a scene ripped straight from Ever After, but other than that I enjoy their interactions.

Bottom Line: I recommend this to anyone (not just women) who wants a strong, competent protagonist and enjoys tinkering to discover different endings. If you happen to have a snarky sense of humor, even better.

Moacube’s Cinders is available on PC and Mac.

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