Title: Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator
Developer: Studio Namaapa
Release Date: February 20. 2020
Reviewed On: PC
I remember first seeing Ciel Fledge up for pre-order. The title alone was enough to get me interested, A Daughter Raising Simulator. Yeah, sure, I’ve never played any Raising Sims myself, but I’m sure some might remember Hanako Games’ Long Live The Queen and it became the let’s play of the season. In other words, the mere idea of playing a Raising Sim got me interested right off the bat.
If you’re not familiar with raising sims, they generally take the form of a “Schedule ‘Em Up” where you’re tasked with raising a child through childhood. Traditionally a princess in a setting involving magic, as in the Princess Maker series. You delegate what your child will do each time-slot to raise stats, influence your child’s personality, and generally make sure they avoid an early death-by-bad-end.
In a few ways, Ciel Fledge breaks the mold of what a raising sim looks like in my head, most obviously by being a futuristic sci-fi story. Also, Ciel is a non-magic and non-princess character. While it’s not the only game of its type in this genre I did love the change of pace from what is expected.
The game is (mostly) set on a floating city above an area primarily made of desert environments. One of the flying cities was recently downed, with Ciel as the lone, amnesiac survivor. So I’ll admit, she’s got as much intrigue around her as a magic princess. Incidentally, the game does have a lot of fun with the sci-fi setting – one of Ciel’s classmates mentions soccer as a sport is basically extinct. He had to get his ball second hand.
Still, I think my before-mentioned hype to play a game of this genre might have affected my experience a little. Compared to Long Live The Queen’s blistering pace of 40 weeks of game-time (it’s really the only other Raising Sim I know enough about to draw comparisons to), Ciel Fledge tells you upfront you’ll be raising your daughter from age 10 to age 18 – 10 times the number of weeks. It can feel quite daunting since it is slower moving.
But then again, to break up all the scheduling, Ciel does sometimes engage in a sort of match-three minigame. Select three cards of the same color to make a set. Use sets to activate abilities once you have enough of the right kind. Sometimes the goal is to reduce your opponent’s HP. Sometimes you need to get a specific score. And sometimes it’s just about making enough sets without mistakes. (All on a time-limit mind you).
I think this is where I had the most trouble with the game. For one thing, the cursor you use to select a card highlights the entire card. This makes it surprisingly hard to know what card-color you’re hovering over, especially when under a time-limit. Time limits always make me anxious, and I can imagine the problems would be even worse for someone with colorblindness or motor difficulties.
There is an in-game way to counter the time-limit, thankfully, but I think it also wasn’t thought out as well as it could be. After sending Ciel to meditate a few times, during her next battle, she revealed that she’d unlocked an ability to stop time temporarily – also changing cards to rainbow for the duration, for more manageable sets.
I didn’t mention this about abilities, but they have cooldowns as well as “set” costs. This also includes the time stop (though it doesn’t cost anything). The cooldown for the time stop-starts from the beginning of the battle since rainbow cards right away could be broken with enough meditation investment.
Now, this battle where it introduces the time stop isn’t scripted – it just happened during a normal battle because I’d meditated enough to unlock the time stop. Now, with the cooldown this time, it was about 17 seconds by the time I looked. The battle also had 17 seconds left. I literally wasn’t allowed to use my new tool during its own tutorial.
It’s minor, but it’s another tiny little lack of polish. Compare that to the Trauma Center series, where its signature time slowing tool, the Healing Touch, is activated automatically (and without wearing off) the first time it comes up so that you can get used to the new mechanic. It’s not entirely the game’s fault – the background I had picked for myself, the person raising Ciel, meant that her meditation wouldn’t be as fruitful as normal, in exchange for better logic growths. It’s a weird edge case. But an edge case can still be annoying.
Still, the game did impress me too. As I mentioned before, with soccer, this future setting feels well thought out. There’s mention that everyone speaks the same language now, but that they still hold linguistics class as a relic. This extends to the social differences between people in the cities and people still living on the surface. The different NPCs (who can become friends with Ciel) all have a defined personality waiting to be dug into.
I also really like the fact that Ciel slowly grows over time, depending slightly on how well you feed her. The save-screen has a height chart by the save files, meaning you can compare how tall Ciel’s getting. And you can buy clothing and accessories for various stat boosts, which also show up on Ciel during gameplay.
Despite Ciel Fledge’s interesting setting and ideas, the battle system feels too messy for me to stick with it, at least not without some visibility tweaks, or even some accessibility options. With such unique ideas present, I know there’s a very interesting game here, I’m probably just not a very good parent.
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