Verfasst: 14. August
It's rather unusual to see a visual novel coming from somewhere other than Japan that doesn't attempt to merely emulate those that do, but instead takes hold of the genre and carves a unique path for itself that shows VNs have a lot more to offer than we've thus seen. In the case of Cinders, it also manages to update a classic fairytail into a far more mature and modern story, turning Cinderella into a newly captivating adventurer that eschews many of the originals childish elements for mystery and intrigue. It stumbles a bit along the way, as if walking in its own pair of undersized glass slippers, but on the whole amounts to something unexpectedly enthralling and maybe just a bit magical.
I can't imagine anyone is unfamiliar with the story of Cinderella, so I'll skip the introductions. The vile mother and sisters, sad girl living as a servant waiting for the world to change, glass slippers and prince charming are all here as you'd expect, but where Cinders differs is in taking a simple fairy tail and turning it into a mature and intriguing story that is wildly different than how you remember it. Character interactions are full of personal dialogue and emotion, turning the original cliches into actual people you can relate and empathize with. Cinders sisters might be cold, but once their reasons are explained it's hard not to feel sorry for them despite their cruelties. The prince may appear to live a life of carefree amusement, but on the inside his constant questioning of his actions is tearing him apart and making him question his own motives. There are certainly moments when it becomes overly self indulgent with some of its writing, and a few endings feel a bit hollow (though that's to be expected with how many there are), but these moments are overshadowed by the majority of the dialog, which is hugely engrossing and when compiled with the element of your own choices becomes even more compelling, as you shape the outcome to any number of different paths.
Which brings me to one of the few areas Cinders slips up a bit, at least in the view of someone who wishes to see more than the one ending they arrive at. Throughout the story (which should take you around 2-5 hours depending on your reading speed) you encounter a myriad of choices which change the story and eventually decide your characters fate. The issue arises in the sheer number of decisions that can have an impact on the ending, and the very limited number of saves you are given, which means you are required to skip through huge amounts of text again and again as you reload and make minor alterations to your choices in the attempts to see a new ending. It all becomes greatly repetitive and takes far more time than it otherwise might had you been given more freedom in the number of saves you have, as well as making it quicker to skip through dialog you've already read before.
But ultimately it's a somewhat inconsequential complaint as for those not obsessed with seeing every ending, the first run through the story isn't the least bit affected and just as captivating as ever. Least I forget Cinders is also remarkably pretty to look at, with fantastic art and a ton of minor details bringing the picture to life, from background objects to character expressions. It's a bold new direction for visual novels, a genre that's been stagnant and underrepresented outside of Japan for a long time, and a brilliant first attempt by developer MoaCube which I hope is but the first of many more to come.