Some people dream of having a successful career and changing the world, whilst others dream of earning riches. Personally, I’ve always wanted to start a family. Obviously, when the opportunity arose to have a go at a game titled Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator I had to pick it up.
Spoiler alert; it wasn’t what I expected it to be.
The game opens with a long, drawn out text-scene setting up the world. I expected a pretty standard “you have a daughter now!” – not the amazing post apocalyptic sci-fi set-up I encountered. To put it concisely, the world has been decimated by an all-powerful enemy and the remainder of society lives in flying ARKs. Each ARK is relatively separate from the others as they orbit the planet, with certain ones ruled by their authorities with an iron fist – though as is shown in the first few moments there is communication between them and support offered in times of crisis. The game begins following the destruction of ARK 3, with your character being drafted in by ARK 5’s authorities to adopt a child rescued from the falling ship. This orphan has no memory of her former life, and your job is to then raise her as your own until she comes of age.
The game spans approximately ten years as you make choices in order to shape her into whatever you desire: do you want her to join the effort to take back the earth?; do you want her to become an artist? Your choices shape who she becomes and where she ends up at the very end. Apparently there are a multitude of possible endings dependant on what choices you make, and from what I’ve seen that holds true. The writing throughout the game is pretty solid; despite the odd awkward moment. Dialogue between your daughter and others is well-written for the most part, if occasionally cringey.
Great, I hear you say; but how do we bring this little sweetheart up? Fret not dear reader; it is achieved through a bizarre smoothie of life simulation, card-based match-three RPG battles, visual novel-esque interactions and a lot of spreadsheet management!
The main gameplay consists of organising and witnessing her schedule, which is split into individual days. For each day she can take part in one of a cornucopia of activities; from studying a variety of topics to spending time with friends, resting and even eventually having a part-time job! Each Sunday, you plan out her week and see how each day will affect her various stats and adjusting as needed. You also decide how she will be parented, including how much of an allowance she gets and how badly you will lay into her if she is a brat. Once you’ve decided on the week’s activities, you start the flow of time and are shown what results from it. Sometimes your daughter’s stats will increase, sometimes she will deepen her bonds with her friends. Sometimes there will be story events and the chance to influence things through a match-three battle (with loose RPG elements) but often the week will play out pretty uneventfully.
In theory, I don’t have a problem with this; in fact, executed properly the concept could easily work. Unfortunately, despite the promising background setting and the juicy potential of the subject matter, I didn’t find myself enjoying the moment-to-moment experience. I did find the visual novel and RPG elements charming at times when they popped up and I enjoyed watching Ciel’s relationships with her friends grow, but overall I felt the game mechanics to be very obtuse and unclear. The match-three game feels needlessly tricky and most of the systems play out in an almost arcane fashion. I’ll be honest; I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing for the majority of the experience. The tutorials taught me HOW to change things, but the WHY was never explained and no hints were given at the very start as to what I should focus on. Yes, you could argue that this mirrors real-life parenthood as no-one really has a clue at the start, but I was hoping the authorities would offer some sense of guidance to a new foster parent as to what she should be learning?
Don’t get me wrong; as I spent more time around Ciel and her friends I became more and more invested in them; I wanted them to succeed! Despite the fact, Ciel had a tendency to lose huge amounts of stats randomly at the start of a month I pressed on making very slow progress towards turning her into soldier so she could avenge her ARK. The big problem with this game however is simply how repetitive and monotonous it is; believe it or not, planning every day for a decade doesn’t exactly create compelling gameplay. The repetition mixed with the seeming hopelessness of Ciel making any real, meaningful progress quickly led to me losing interest myself. I really wanted to enjoy it, and I can imagine there are some people – probably mid-twenties anime-loving EVE players – who would find hours and hours of enjoyment from Ciel Fledge; unfortunately, I’m not one of them.
The aesthetics do help the game stand out however; there’s a good soundtrack hidden in here which mixes modern life with the slightly futuristic setting and provides ample atmosphere for your daily tasks. The graphic design is nice enough, switching regularly between passable anime-styled portraits and chibi designs for the characters. I wouldn’t say it has the polish of many similar games, but it’s much better than what I could do and carries a rustic charm
All in all then, Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator is a bit of a damp squib for me. Whilst it has a lot of potential, I feel much of it has been lost through a mixture of disparate mechanics which aren’t ever explained in enough depth. There is something great at its heart; I truly began to care for Ciel and the world she inhabits, and would love to play a game set more around the world crisis and protecting the ARKs. It’s just a shame that the developers overcomplicated so much of the simulation and went for a jack-of-all-trades approach. If you love visual novels and don’t mind micromanagement, repetition and a pinch of frustration, give it a look. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend this one.
Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator is available on Nintendo Switch and PC.
This Review is based on the Nintendo Switch Version of the Game
You can purchase the game here.
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Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator
In a distant future, humanity has abandoned earth… facing near-extinction by a colossal alien threat. Amidst the destruction, a mysterious young girl is rescued and brought to safety on ARK-3 … a magnificent city built in the sky.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 17.99