Gaming - Cibele

The Defective Inspector investigates some of the IGF Indie Award nominees. Here is his Case File for Cibele...

I am writing this moments after finishing the game. With most games I take at least a few minutes, collect my thoughts and write out a logically structured well thought out review (Don’t look too surprised). But this game was emotionally charged and emotions are difficult to replicate hours or days after playing. Before I rampage into my review I want to remind everyone that Cibele is one of the IGF nominees in the category for Nuovo Award. Usually I create a sub-heading and discuss what makes this game original, but I think you are all smart enough to work that out for yourselves.

Cibele feels like an interactive story more than a game, but I’d be overly critical to not call it a game. Unlike many other nominees throughout the IGF awards this game is completely about one woman, Nina, who plays online under the name Cibele. Throughout her desktop library, video footage, various chat messages and playing a fictional MMORPG you uncover the story of Nina and Ishi.

As with every game I review which depends on the storyline unfolding I find myself restricted once more to express myself. So rather than shoehorn in some hints and tips I am going to be blunt for once. It’s about a relationship forming between Nina and Ishi and how that changes Nina’s life, it constantly feels very realistic and most people who spent/d too much time on MMORPGs will attest to that. It would seem Nina’s story is born of the early millennium to the current day where the combination of online gaming, astounding communication and cheap air flights have allowed us all to be very close at long distances.

If I had to put this game into a category, it would be a realistic romantic interactive desktop story. I have to admit I have a personal affiliation to this game, me and my partner met online and I remember all the strange interactions as if it was yesterday. The odd compliments, the fumbling attempts at flirting and every single bloody forum post I can recall. The best part about this game is it occurs almost as a background to a fictional MMORPG, this is a literal situation for hundreds if not thousands of people in the world. Anyone who played games like Runescape, WoW, Eve, Final Fantasy Online…. Okay I am going on BUT THE POINT IS, this sort of thing did happen. Real lives changed in very unreal worlds. The upsetting truth is this game didn’t get nominated in the Excellence in Narrative category, granted it was given an honourable mention but… God dammit the game is a damn story and more importantly it’s not set in outer space or fantasy land… It’s real life.

One thing which was odd about the game was I felt… invasive. Throughout the plot/game you are granted a more than leery look into the life of Nina and Ishi and it begins to borderline on voyeur. I think this was intentional but as a male gamer looking through the eyes of a female gamer being seduced by a different male gamer was just uncomfortable to say the least. But the pre-programmed responses told me this was perfectly fine and natural… Still… I feel a little dirty

The game is disastrously short, but the ending really explains why. While I’d love to have uncovered more pieces here and more history of Nina’s friends and family when the credits roll it does make perfect sense why things ended the way they did. Having fun with reading vague garbage? Well I don’t enjoy writing it, but you’ll thank me when you play the game and appreciate I left some tasty morsels of fun for you to eat without me shovelling it into your food hole.

Again I feel shackled by my own sense of self duty to not unravel the yarn so I will leave you with this to remember. Cibele is a true to life romantic story based game, whether you lived the story she told or not doesn’t matter, you will have lived it by the end.

Images from Steam
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