When it comes to simulation games, it seems like there is a game for pretty much any scenario you can think of. Manage a sports team? Check. Build your own city? Check. Surgery simulation? Check. However, Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator is the first game to my knowledge to simulate raising your own daughter.
The story of Ciel Fledge is set in the distant future, after Earth was attacked by an alien race known only as the Gigant. The citizens of Earth fled the surface, and now mostly live in giant city ships in the sky known as Arks. Some Earthlings chose to stay on the surface, despite the alien threat.
At the beginning of the game, Ark-5 is attacked and destroyed by the Gigant. Upon exploring the wreckage, a young girl is discovered on the surface of Earth. She has no memory of who she is, or why she is on the surface. The Administration, who are essentially the government of the Arks, determine that the girl must be placed into the care of an adult and essentially adopted. Through random selection, you are chosen. You get the chance to name the girl, but I stuck with Ciel.
And honestly, that is all I know of Ciel Fledge’s story. At the time of writing this review, I have been playing this game for 9 hours. All that has changed is I have been introduced to a mysterious woman who seems to know Ciel. After hours of socialising with this woman, I have learned nothing about Ciel’s backstory. Unfortunately, I could not bring myself to play the game for any longer. To me, 9 hours is far too long to go without any plot.
The gameplay is essentially split into two different types; day to day scheduling and the puzzle sections. The day to day scheduling takes up the bulk of the gameplay and sees you assigning tasks to Ciel. You have to pick a task for each day of the week, and each task builds up a certain skill of Ciel’s. You must also balance things such as mood, affection and stress so make sure not to overwork Ciel!
Ciel has a number of traits to begin with, such as Strength and Intelligence, but depending on what tasks you give her certain skills will improve. It is also possible, later in the game, for Ciel to gain new skills such as learning an instrument or drawing. It is, therefore, your job to assign tasks to Ciel so that certain areas improve and that Ciel can face the dangers of the world.
Eventually Ciel is forced to explore the surface of Earth, and so is forced to face the perils of surface life. She must be equipped with the skills to survive in combat, but also be charasmatic enough to live her day to day life. Balancing this can be hard, but isn’t impossible.
From time to time in her day to day life Ciel will be involved in encounters. Some of these are auto encounters that just involve her socialising with people, while others are battles that you must choose to either accept or skip. Accepting takes a small part of Ciel’s stamina, but if successful you are rewarded with extra points for that skill.
Stamina is something you must watch in the game. Ciel only has a finite amount of stamina, and so must rest in between tasks to recoup. Resting is the task for that day, which means that day is essentially lost. This becomes quite frustrating early on, however as you progress you learn to accept that rest is needed and eventually it stops bothering you.
The second part of the gameplay comes in the form of battles. These takes on many forms, each with their own different objective. It may be defeat the enemy, or score this many points, but each battle will see you matching colours to score points or deal damage. The more successful matches you do in a row, the higher the multiplier becomes and so the more points you gain.
I found on the Switch version that quickly moving the stick to select colours was very fiddly. The tiles are set out in a diamond shape and you must use the left stick to move the cursor on to the tile you want. It is possible to use the d-pad to select the left, right, top or bottom tile but those corner tiles require the stick. Rolling the stick when you’re against the clock is hard, and I often found myself rolling too far and selecting the wrong tile. This often led to me losing that battle, and was extremely frustrating.
There are also abilities that Ciel can do, based on the colours you match. Each ability has it’s own benefits and disadvantages, so carefully considering which ones are best at that time is essential. Then there is Ciel’s ultimate ability, which allows her to pause time and turns all bricks on the screen into rainbow bricks. In this situation you can give yourself some breathing room, and select any three you wish as they will automatically become a match. Very useful in stressful situations where the clock is against you.
The last thing to discuss is the ability to choose companions to accompany you on the surface when you explore. Each companion has a passive and active ability, which gets stronger the more Ciel socialises with them. The friendship level between the two rises, and so the level of the support increases. It’s worth noting though, that each companion has a cooldown period on how often they can accompany you. This, coupled with the fact that each companion has a day to day life and may not be avaialable when you choose to explore the surface, is something that you have to live with unfortunately.
Other than the cooldown period, you don’t know who is available and who isn’t until it’s time to pick companions and go exploring. While frustrating it does make sense from a gameplay point of view. Without these features, you could just use the same three companions time and time again. For instance, Juno reduces the amount of stamina that exploring takes but he has a long cooldown period. If you could take Juno with you all the time, there would be no need to improve Ciel’s endurance. In the grand scheme of things, it does make sense.
Graphics & Audio
Graphically Ciel Fledge is fine. It doesn’t lack anything but is also not breaking any ground when it comes to graphics. The art style for when Ciel is running around doing her tasks is cute, with these small versions of the characters appearing on the screen. I feel that the game gave an average performance, audio-wise. The music does an adequate job of helping the mood of the game. Yet, it isn’t a soundtrack I’m rushing out to buy. Ciel Fledge also suffers from something I mentioned in my review of Ash of Gods. A lack of dialogue, for me personally, makes it very hard to connect with the characters in the game. I felt no connection to Ciel. I only aimed to raise Ciel in a way that allowed me to progress to the elusive storyline.
Overall Ciel Fledge had the foundation of what should have been a good game. An interesting backstory as a backdrop for an in-depth simulator game. On paper, it should have worked. So what went wrong? Well, besides the small issues we have discussed thus far in the review, the main issue is that Ciel Fledge becomes too bogged down in the specifics of raising a child. The game is so focused on the actual raising of Ciel, that it almost seems to forget that it has a story to tell. Nine hours without any update to the plot of the game is, quite frankly, unacceptable. Ciel Fledge is a game that will appeal to a very niche audience, one with the patience of a saint. If that doesn’t sound like you, I would avoid grabbing this game altogether.
Ciel Fledge is a game that had so much promise from the start. However awkwardly slow pacing led to a lack of plot and my disinterest in the game. The game features repetitive gameplay that becomes boring over time and characters which are hard to connect with. One to avoid unless you are extremely patient.