We all know the story of Cinderella, but what if you had the power to choose her happy ending? From the developers at MoaCube comes Cinders, a more serious visual novel heavily based on the popular fairy tale. While the game made its debut in June of 2012, Cinders was greenlit for Steam and launched earlier this May. If you are a fan of classic damsel-in-distress stories with a handsome prince who provides a “happily ever after”, it is advised that you look somewhere else. This game is hardly anything like a Disney Princess movie.
Our main protagonist, Cinders, is a smart and witty young woman with high ambitions for a better life. After her father’s death, Cinders was forced to work for her stepmother, Lady Carmosa, and her two stepsisters: the stubborn Gloria who wishes to run the house just like her mother, and cynical Sophia who just wants to be left alone. While traditionally the tales describe the stepsisters as ugly and cruel, Sophia and Gloria are just as beautiful and just as miserable as Cinders. This twist on the story of Cinderella is a bit more serious than what people might expect it to be. Instead of being a sad servant waiting for her prince to rescue her, Cinders takes matters into her own hands and discovers the hard truth about her family, the kingdom and herself.
Progressing in the game is as simple as clicking your mouse (which is exactly how to play). In the game, every single decision you make has its own consequence. While your choices include where on the map to go and who to speak to, you also need to choose how to react to certain situations. These decisions not only affect which of the four endings Cinders results in, but what kind of a person the protagonist turns out to be.
The story of Cinders starts off fairly slow, but the beautiful artwork, music and character design is what keeps you motivated to press onward. Talented Polish artist Gracjana Zielińska provides stunning scenic backgrounds and illustrations that make you wish this world were real. Along with the amazing soundtrack created by accomplished musician Rob Westwood, Cinders is a fantastic example of what all visual novels should strive to be.
Cinders is currently available on Steam for $19.99. While it is a fairly steep price for a visual novel, if you appreciate a good twist on an old classic, beautiful art and wonderful music, it may be worth the splurge.