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Cibele (PC) artwork

Cibele (PC) review

"A well-crafted story about online relationships that approaches the subject with honesty and integrity."

Cibele (PC) image

Cibele is a story about a long distance relationship. You play as Nina, who has met a young man named Blake inside a fictional MMORPG called "Valtameri". She ends up falling in love with him. He seems to feel the same way, but unfortunately they live across the continent from each other. How can they make this work? Do they even want to? The lines between flirtation and commitment can be confusing in an online relationship, but they can also become surprisingly passionate. This game explores all of this stuff, and does so with brutal honesty and integrity.

Cibele is essentially a 2D point-and-click adventure game. I use the term "game" here loosely, however, as the main focus rests entirely on the story. That is to say, there isn't much "game" here at all. As you play within Valtameri, you will quickly notice that there are no items, no experience points, no level-ups, and indeed, no way to die!

Cibele (PC) image

But that is entirely the point. The "game" only functions as a backdrop to the story, and the story works best when it is uninterrupted. I happen to like a good story, so this suited me just fine, but if you're the type of gamer who needs constant action and explosions in order to be happy, I would suggest that Cibele is not for you. If you do like stories, however, you will find that the writing is genuine and relatable, the characters are interesting, and the voice acting is competent. This game kept me interested throughout, and when the ending came (far too soon, at that) it left me wondering what happened next.

I don't want to give too much away, as it is a very short game (roughly three hours), but what I will say is that it is based on real events that occurred in the life of the creator, Nina Freeman, and the autobiographical aspect only lends additional strength to the narrative. It is absolutely packed with supplemental content in the form of letters, poems, photographs, chat logs, and blog posts that can be viewed in-between the chapters. Most of this stuff feels like it was harvested from Nina's actual personal files on her hard drive. At times, I felt like I was reading a diary. It takes a lot of courage to put such a personal part of your life out there for all the world to see, and I can only admire her for doing so.

Cibele (PC) image

My only real gripe with Cibele relates to gameplay performance. I experienced some severe frame hitching during the Valtameri sequences, despite the fact that my PC exceeded the recommended system requirements. There were also some long load times. However, Nina used this opportunity to inject some humor into the game, and you will hear her saying "So slowwwww...", as though she is referring to Valtameri's laggy servers. This self-awareness is very clever. It is as though she is saying to her audience that she knows that Cibele isn't the best piece of code, but nevertheless is asking us to bear with her. I was only happy to do so.

It feels a bit strange to review Cibele strictly as a game. More accurately, I would describe it as a piece of art that just happens to be using the video game medium as the means to convey its message. This is not a bad thing. It's just a thing. It's different. Different can be good.

I enjoyed Cibele. We need more games like this.


Nightfire's avatar
Community review by Nightfire (December 04, 2015)

Nightfire is a reclusive dragon who lives in a cave with internet access. Steam ID here.

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honestgamer posted December 04, 2015:

I think this is the best review that you've yet chosen to post here, Nightfire, and I'm not really sure what I might look for in some other review that isn't offered here. The game doesn't sound like it would necessarily by my cup of tea (though I could probably enjoy playing through it, somewhat), but I can see why you arrived at the score you did and I'm even inclined to agree with your conclusion that the industry can use more games of this sort. The industry, after all, can use more games of just about every sort...
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Nightfire posted December 04, 2015:

I completely agree. The video game medium has the potential to do just about anything, and yet it usually defaults to predictable formulas that can be easily monetized (such as first person shooters, RTS, MOBAs, etc).

That's why I'm so intrigued by the recent resurgence of indie games. Cutting-edge stuff keeps showing up and doing very well for itself, despite the fact that it is overshadowed by "big" releases from studios with huge marketing departments (FTL: Faster Than Light is a perfect example of this).

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