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Visual Novel / Cinders

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Cinders is a Visual Novel / Romance Game for PC and MAC, and later Nintendo Switch, made by Moa Cube, artist Gracjana Zielinska and composer Rob Westwood. It is a reimagining of Cinderella, in which you have to play as Cinders - an orphan girl humiliated and enslaved by her stepmother, explore the world around you, interact with people (and not all of them human) and find your own place in life.

A westernized Visual Novel, which is already a niche genre, with an art style that is not anime-inspired, but detailed and lovely in its own way. Cinders also offers far more frequent choices than the standard Visual Novel mold, allowing precise customisation of the protagonist's personality to suit the player.

You can download the free demo and/or buy this game here. Has its own wiki - complete with walkthrough, so look out for spoilers.


Not to be confused with Cinder, the first novel of Lunar Chronicles series.

Cinders has examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Carmosa. She not only forced her stepdaughter to be a servant in her own house, but she emotionally abuses and neglects her own daughters.
    • Parents as People: However, the game makes it clear that Carmosa's life has been far from easy, and the reason she works everyone so hard is because she wants her daughters to be well off. She's just going about it very badly.
  • Adaptation Expansion: And that's an understatement.
  • Alignment-Based Endings: In two of the possible endings, Cinders can be a Good, Fair, Machiavellic, or Evil Queen; or a Good, Wise, Quiet, or Ironhanded Host.
  • Alpha Bitch: Lady Carmosa.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Averted with Prince Basile. He plans on initiating radical reforms to the monarchy but he's presented as an unambiguously good character. Cinders can play this trope in every direction, depending on the type of queen she becomes.
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  • Amicable Exes: Perrault and Madame Ghede.
  • At Least I Admit It: Sophia's attitude towards the world. She believes that everyone is as cruel and selfish as Sophia and her family — they're just less honest about it.
  • Anti-Hero / Villain Protagonist: Can be both played straight and averted. It all depends on you.
  • Anti-Villain: Your stepmother and stepsisters, of all people.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: From Cinders to Gloria, "What do you like to do?"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: To quote Sophia: "Servants' morale and respect dropping. Kingdoms falling. Dark times approaching. And most of all - that stain is improper!"
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Carmosa and her daughters.
    • In one "Independent Woman" ending the player can have Carmosa arrested for forging an invitation to the Royal Ball, and Perrault will attempt to arrest Gloria and Sophia along with her - only for Carmosa to beg him to spare them and take all the blame for herself.
    • Earlier than that, at the Royal Ball Carmosa will tell Sophia an Gloria that she believes in them, and is proud of them, because they are her daughters.
  • Babies Ever After: In the Independent Woman ending, if Cinders romanced Tobias, they eventually marry and have several children together.
  • Bait-and-Switch: the Traveler ending. Either the Fairy or Madame Ghede tells you to return to your house after the Ball, and they'll send someone to pick you up. But when you do return to the house, Captain Perrault bursts in to arrest you on charges of sneaking into the Ball with a forged invitation. This can make you think you screwed up somewhere...nope, actually, Perrault is just there to pick you up so you can leave town; the arrest was a pretext to provide Lady Carmosa a reason to let you leave without sending henchmen after you to block your escape.
  • Befriending the Enemy: Cinders can successfully befriend one, two, or all members of her step-family if she wants to.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Cinder's personality can be that of a good and obedient girl, but she is still able to poison and kill Carmosa to become the head of the household.
  • But Thou Must!: Averted. Every choice affects the dialogue and outcome of the game.
  • Calling the Old Woman Out: Cinders gets to do this to Carmosa in most (if not all) of the routes.
  • Cinderella Circumstances
  • Character Development: If Cinders befriends her stepsisters, they emotionally develop. Gloria begins to show self-dependence and confidence, while Sophia becomes less cold and sarcastic.
  • Code of Honor: Perrault has one, based on his duty as the captain of the royal guard.
  • Coming-of-Age Story
  • Cosmetic Award: The trophies, though they are very pretty.
    • Some of their descriptions are also a bit tongue-in-cheek — for instance, "For dying a miserable death, you are rewarded with the Grim Skull!"
  • Daddy's Girl: Cinders can be if the she chooses to tell Sophia about her childhood and says that it was great.
  • Dance of Romance: Played straight or subverted, depending on who Cinder's romantic interest is in the end. If she's in love with the Prince, it's played straight. If she's in love with Perrault/Tobias or in not in love with anybody, it's subverted.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cinders has her moments.
  • Deal with the Devil: Never featured as such, but the vague remarks from the Fairy Queen about "The Concord" and "The Price" certainly remind one of this. Also, if you go through your path with the Fairy as your helper, the Shady character will imply that she has had a part in Cinders's mother dying.
  • Death by Despair: The Grim Fate ending.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Gloria and/or Sophia, if you're on their friendship paths.
    • You can also potentially earn Carmosa's respect and support in the ending.
  • Demoted to Extra: It's possible to do this to Tobias, Madame Ghede, and the Fairy Queen. Tobias appears in two scenes early on in the game, but it's possible to ignore him for the rest of it. With Madame Ghede and the Fairy Queen, you can essentially ignore one in favor of the other.
  • Dialogue Tree: As per usual for the genre.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Sophia.
  • Doting Parent: Cinders's father was this when he was alive.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: Getting the worst ending takes a lot of effort. See the entry for Multiple Endings below.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The line uttered by each of the main characters before their individual cutscene.
  • Evil Matriarch: Carmosa, of the dramatic variation, to her daughters, Gloria and Sophia.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Shady character.
  • Excessive Evil Eyeshadow: The "Queen" portraits, in order of good to evil — Good, Fair, Machiavellic, Evil — increase Cinders's eyeshadow accordingly. The Good portrait has none at all.
  • Fair Folk: The spirit of the lake.
  • Fairy Godmother: Played With. Both the Fairy and Madame Ghede are substitutes of the Fairy Godmother from the original fairy tale and can help Cinders get to ball, but neither are traditional fairy godmothers. Their help comes with a ominous price, or they may have their own hidden agendas. They have motivations beyond just granting Cinders's wish.
    • If you take the Fairy as your helper, it's implied that she had a part in Cinders' mother dying.
  • Fashion Hurts: Sophia is more than relieved to take off her ball gown after a day spent at the tailor's getting it fixed.
    • Cinders immediately takes off her shoes and throws them over a wall after dancing with Prince Basile, because the shoes, though beautiful, are small and pinch her feet.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Unlike most examples of this trope, though, it's rather more dramatic than funny.
  • Freudian Excuse: Your stepmother and her daughters may be bitches, but their lives sure weren't easy.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The script clearly advocates independence and a realistic outlook, yet makes the Evil Queen ending more likely if a player expresses this. The script overall suffers from a lack of tangible morality choices, so 'good' is equivalent to 'passive' and 'cynical' to 'murderous tyrant.' Making the decision that Cinders' abusive stepfamily "should get what they deserve" results in the PC being labelled 'evil', regardless of how realistic such resentment would be in a similar real-life situation.
  • The Ghost: There are apparently servants other than Cinders in her house, but they are never seen.
  • Glass Slipper: Openly mocked.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: A variant with three sisters. Gloria and Sophia are the Beautiful Sister and Smart Sister respectively. Cinders is basically a mix of the two and seems to the only one inclined/able to really socialize.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The Fairy's conversation with the Shady implies that Fairies are as much dependent on humans who believe in them as the other way around.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Evil Queen, naturally. The Machiavellic Queen is a subversion.
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: Perrault.
  • Gold Digger: Carmosa married for money twice and expects Gloria and Sophia to do the same. Cinders can do this as well if the player chooses.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Courtesy of Cinders's stepmother and stepsisters.
  • The High Queen: The Fair Queen is this. The Good Queen subverts this.
  • How We Got Here: The game begins after the Prince's ball when the Captain of the Guard comes looking for Cinders. Before she goes to see him, she contemplates how her actions in the past few days have led up to this point.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Sophia's perception of herself, especially when compared to Gloria.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Cinders's reasoning if rejects Tobias when he asks her on a date.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The stepfamily gets this a lot. In an argument with Gloria, Cinders insists that Gloria should be treating Sophia more like a sister, and Gloria retorts that Cinders and Sophia don't act like sisters to her either. She and Carmosa also raise the point that the house requires a lot of upkeep and responsibility to maintain.
  • Karma Meter: Kind of. The game tracks Cinders's "goodness" and "badness" in her choices, but they mainly deal with her general personality and outlook rather than her objective moral standing. There's also another personality variable that measures her intelligence.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Cinders has the option of doing this by killing Carmosa via poison. Sure, it's a terrible thing to do, but given that the victim is a horrible person who verbally and emotionally abuses her daughters (blood or otherwise) and treats Cinders like a slave, making it abundantly clear that under the best of circumstances that she intends to have her as a servant forever, it really comes off as more of a case of The Dog Bites Back, rather than any crossing of the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Lampshading: Cinders tells the audience about the book she's read recently which featured a girl who suffered at the hands of her abusive family, yet did nothing but waited for the prince to save her and, finally, was rewarded. She decides that the book is dangerous for girls as they might develop a "martyr-like attitude".
  • Legacy of Service: Perrault's family has served in the King's guard since his great grandfather saved the king's life.
  • Leitmotif: Almost everyone.
  • Magical Negro: Madame Ghede. She is the only black character in the game and may have "magical" voodoo-ish powers.
    • Justified. The reason why she aids Cinders is because she is indebted to Cinder's mother.
    • Also, possibly subverted. In Madam Ghede's conversation with the Shady character, he states that Madame Ghede manipulated Cinders for her own selfish agenda.
  • Masquerade Ball: The Prince holds one of these so that he can choose a wife without discriminating over looks or political ties.
  • Mating Dance: When Cinders and the Prince dance together, they press their bodies right up against one another and the looks on their faces—which are only a few inches apart—are pretty lusty as they gaze into the other's eyes.
  • Meaningful Name: Gloria means glory in Latin, while Sophia means wisdom. This refers to their role as Beautiful Sister and Smart Sister, respectively (see The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry).
  • Meanwhile Scene: Frequently, usually focusing on Basile and Perrault.
  • Multiple Endings: As is expected of the genre. Interestingly, the details of each ending are not set in stone, and there can be many variances depending on your choices earlier in the story.
    • Bad Ending / It's a Wonderful Failure: The Grim Fate. It actually has a very specific set of requirements; you pretty much have to be trying in order to get it.
      • To be precise, here's how to get The Grim Fate: be defiant to Carmosa, don't pursue romance with Perrault (though you can befriend him for an ending variant), don't follow the Shady character (or if you do, don't succeed in interrogating certain information out of him) so you'll miss out on some crucial information, and don't search for a will when Cinders's narration point-blank tells you that a will might be useful. Then, when Cinders is trying to decide between re-taking Carmosa's home or escaping town, choose to try to re-take Carmosa's home by poisoning her...but because you were defiant to her earlier, she won't trust the breakfast you serve and she'll discover the poison in it, which causes her to have you arrested and you eventually rot to death in the Royal Dungeon, consumed by guilt and failure.
  • Mysterious Parent: Cinders's mother. Multiple characters are connected to Cinders through her mother, who had the foresight to stack the odds in her daughter's favour by keeping powerful and/or resourceful people in her debt.
  • Mysterious Stranger: No matter what path the player takes, the Shady Character's backstory and motivations are never disclosed. The closest to a clue is a short scene in the epilogue, where he is shown to be on familiar terms with either the Fairy or Madame Ghede, depending on Cinders' choice of godmother, and it is only implied that he knew Cinders' mother.
  • Nature vs. Nurture: Depending on how Cinders interacts with her step-family, she will see them either as victims of circumstance or inherently awful human beings.
    • The first choice available in game hints at this trope, do people deserve a second chance, or do they get what they deserve?
  • No Name Given: Shady character.
  • Not So Different: Cinders and Carmosa, particularly if Cinders has a cunning and/or selfish personality.
    • If the player has Cinders constantly sneak out of the house while Carmosa is briefly away and Gloria and/or Sophia don't like her enough to cover up for her, the ensuing conversation in the study goes poorly, and the "not so different" part gets lampshaded when Carmosa asks Cinders to say to herself, "I am not the only person in the world," the same sentiment Cinders wishes Carmosa would learn.
    • Sophia clearly doesn't like Carmosa's domineering ways any better than Cinders does, and if Cinders befriends her, she admits to Cinders that she was similarly mistreated by Carmosa in her childhood because of Carmosa's Parental Favoritism for Gloria. Additionally, Cinders admits close to the beginning of the game that she actually feels sorry for Gloria because Carmosa's treatment of her is not much different from her treatment of Sophia or Cinders in spite of Gloria doing her best to please her.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Shady Character clearly knows more than he's letting on, even when it comes to The Fairy.
  • The Oldest Profession: If their relationship is bad enough, Sophia can snidely ask Cinders if she works as a prostitute.
  • One-Gender Race: It's implied that fairies are all female.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Cinders" isn't the protagonist's real name, but we never learn what she is really called.
    • The Shady character.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: With Tobias.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Your Fairy Godmother is either an ethereal spirit of the lake, or an ambiguously voodoo-ish black lady in a carnival dress.
  • Posthumous Character: Cinders's parents. They're both dead before the story begins, but they are frequently mentioned.
  • Protagonist Title: One-Word Title style.
  • Rags to Riches: If Cinders marries the Prince. This trope is done Cinderella style, of course.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure / Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Prince wants to abolish the monarchy and create a representative government for the future happiness of his people, even if this means angering the old-fashioned nobility.
  • Redheaded Stepchild: Cinders. Her father gave her the nickname because of her hair.
  • Scenery Porn: Everything, from main menu to Cinders's rags, is gorgeous.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Cinders can decide to simply run away from home in some endings instead of directly confronting Carmosa or trying to become the Queen.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Cinders, of course.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Depending on the player's choices, Cinders can convince Sophia and Gloria of the flaws in their pessimistic worldview while she betters her relationships with them.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Sophia's attitude.
  • Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: Sophia, Gloria, and Carmosa all share this attitude. Cinders can too, if the player is so inclined.
  • Sliding Scale Of Free Will Versus Fate
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism
  • Stepford Smiler: Gloria.
  • Stepford Snarker: Sophia.
  • Stupid Evil / Stupid Good: Cinders can be this, depending on your choices.
    • Being particularly Stupid Evil in a certain select circumstance can also get you the Bad Ending.
    • The game is partly designed to send a message about the importance of not being these things, and the trouble that comes from going too far to either end. The best endings tend to be those where the player prioritizes intelligence instead, or balances all the values. Specifically, even the tyrannical-but-clever Machiavellic Queen still ushers in a "Golden Age" and the Prince can fall in love with her, which is better than the "Good Queen," who is too weak to support his reforms and so cannot gain the Prince's love—just like the Evil Queen, who rejects his reforms out of her own cruelty. Both of the last two are suggested to contribute to a bad future for the kingdom, just more explicitly and dramatically with the Evil Queen. This can come as a shock to players who come in planning to play the protagonist like in the original story (or the Disney version).
  • Tsundere: If the player makes the correct choices and befriends Sophia and Gloria, the sisters will start to act aloof but sympathetic toward Cinders, Sophia especially.
  • Twice-Told Tale: Before you play this game, you might want to read the fairy tale of Cinderella.
  • The Unfavorite: Cinders is this to Carmosa. Sophia was this until Cinders came into the picture.
  • The Unreveal: The Fairy Queen refuses to say what the price of Cinders' contract with the fey folk will be, if she chooses to accept their aid - only that it will reveal itself in due time.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Tobias, if you choose to pursue a romance with him.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can reach out to your stepfamily and help them overcome their bitterness and become better people.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: ...or you can decide to Pay Evil unto Evil and be completely horrible to them. You can even gain Carmosa's trust and then have her imprisoned or poisoned to clear the way for you as the new head of the house.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Carmosa, Gloria, and Sophia. They haven't done anything truly evil or unlawful, they're just rude and spiteful.
    • Well, actually... Carmosa does forge their invitation for the ball, but it is more of a Felony Misdemeanor. One possible way to retake the residence is to use this to get Carmosa arrested.
  • "Well Done Daughter" Girl: Poor, poor Gloria...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If you take the more ruthless choices in the game like poisoning Carmosa or having her arrested, the other characters will call you out on it. Unless you covered your tracks, that is.
    • The Shady Character gives this to Madame Ghede, who manipulates Cinders into letting her repay her debt to the latter's mother cheaply - or to the Fairy of the Lake, who is heavily implied to have caused Cinders mother to suffer Death by Childbirth as part of the Concord she had with her in the endings.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Carmosa, though she's portrayed a little more sympathetically than some.
    • Can be subverted at the end, depending on game play.
  • Wounded Gazelle Warcry: Cinders can threaten to frame the Shady Character with assault and send the guards after him if he refuses to share some information she wants.
  • You Bastard!: If you care about the sisters, Sophia's accusations and Gloria's breakdown following Carmosa's death if you poisoned her are going to sting.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The Fairy's arguments against Cinders, if Cinders insists to the Fairy that her freedom of choice has decided and will continue to decide her life thus far.


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