As you many recall, the last game I finished and posted about in this blog just a few days ago was Fran Bow. More than a game, it was an experience about the broken mind of a little girl and today game is NOTHING like that.
Cibele (probably not named after that one goddess of many that the Romans decided to adopt) is a game based on the real life story of Nina Freeman, a 19-year-old that plays online games and meets this one guy she ends up liking called Blake. They private chat, phone call each other and share photographs of each other.
The game was created by Star Maid Games, but mostly this comes from the mind of the real-life Nina Freeman who the main character and experiences are based around.
To be honest, I have a hard time calling this a game. It’s more akin to an interactive movie, where you click on a few things, read a few things and do some stuff and watch a movie you’re seeing rather than an actual game. I also am aware that’s pretty much the thing you do in Fran Bow, but the difference between Fran Bow and Cibele is that I can believe Fran Bow, I can have fun with Fran Bow, I feel things when I play Fran Bow. That doesn’t happen with Cibele. Cibele is closer to dating sim (without the actual choices of one) than to point and click adventure game.
In between the clicking to prey on a 19 year old girl’s desktop and the small clips that are supposed to represent her need for Blake and the evolution of their relationship, you play this game with Blake (where he’s called Ichi) where you hear them talking about how much they like each other and how Nina cannot take compliments and message these people I don’t know and I don’t care about.
This game suffers from the same problem that Emily Is Away did. It introduces characters to me that I don’t know nor I care about and assumes that I’ll care about this characters because of feels I guess.
The only difference between Emily Is Away and Cibele, is that I’ve been through what Nina has somewhat.
I apologize if someone gets to know about this through this post, but as many people know I’m in a long-distance relationship (a LDR for short) and last December I got myself into a plane to be with that person. Nina’s fear of not being well like and her insecurities were mine; I know how it’s like to be in Nina’s place.
The fear of not being liked in the end, of the feelings to end is very much real to me, but that still didn’t stop me. I got myself into that plane, I went through all the nervousness and did it. I still feel bad that I had lie to make things happen because I very much doubt that people would understand this concept, but I still did it. Because I loved somebody and I knew that somebody liked me back. Cibele puts me on the other edge of the sword, it makes me think about what would happen if he didn’t like me, but I didn’t feel anything for the characters of the game, I felt something because I was projecting my own situation unto the game.
Nina’s feelings were not mine, I was projecting my feelings on Nina’s character and that is the biggest flaw of the game. Someone who never went through the experience will feel nothing and this will be the boring game that actually is.
There was nothing but my projection in this game, the projection of my love for someone who lives on the other side of Europe and who I miss every day. That’s what I felt after playing the game: sore empty taste on my mouth because the game addresses nothing but heartbreaks are necessary but love is complicated.
In a lot of moments the game could have addressed the danger of sending nudes to someone online or having them posted online, the dangers of meeting someone you meet online, the envy of your friends, isolation and even female insecurities, but no. It talks about it a little, it shows it a little and then it’s gone. Right under the rub so nobody can see the ugly things or say that LDRs suck and can never be pulled off.
This girl has so many pictures, but nothing is ever addressed.
This girl is losing contact with her friends, but nothing is ever addressed.
This game had so many opportunities to do good things, but it decided to go with barely an hour of gameplay and have it end in a way that makes nothing worth it.
I know that life isn’t always worth it and that things don’t always have the best ending and I also know that this is a personal story, but if you want to make that kind of ending effective you have to make the person on the other side feel something regardless of their life experiences.
I’m pretty sure 99.9999999999999999999999999% of Bloodborne players never killed 2m tall may or may not be French priest and his mute best friend, but players still felt something when they realized what they had done by killing Father Gascoigne and Old Hunter Henryk.
Cilebe makes me feel nothing, especially by the end.
So after a few months of talking, Nina and Blake decide that they should meet to clear their feelings and realize if they truly like each other. Nina is living a dorm in New York, so she lets him stay there and they talk and kiss and out of nowhere SEX HAPPENS. Just like that they’re undressing and making out and it’s very heavily implied that Nina lost her virginity to Blake but the kicker is when he leaves he tells her that it was a mistake. Coming was a mistake, he doesn’t love her.
And does Nina do?
Sits on a chair and tells us that love is hard but this was awesome and it was the best she ever had and she’s glad for it.
HOW THE FUCK DO YOU DO THAT? THE GUY FUCKED UP, DUMPED YOU AND IT’S SAY IT’S THE BEST YOU EVER HARD?!
Nobody has any idea how much that made me angry. It’s the absolute fuck you right in me face. The ending is designed to make me feel something and it doesn’t make me feel anything but anger towards a barely legal (in my country) girl who doesn’t even know what’s good for her.
And the guy just tells her that he’ll see her later online? What kind of asshole does that?
In a way, I can understand why someone would be thankful for this situation, but the game never addresses that. The game never tells us that Nina is thankful for this because it taught her something, it just tells us that she is thankful and that annoys me beyond reason. I can’t even explain very well why I’m so angry but: it makes no sense.
But above all, it makes your actions worthless. Like I said, in life, your actions aren’t always worth it and either is in video games as is the case of NIER or Dark Souls, but this game has that major issue I’ve been talking about throughout the whole post: I don’t care.
In NIER, I want to keep playing and save the world because I care about the characters, I care about Nier’s daughter, I care about what’s happening because the story makes me care so that when, eventually, everything is taken away from me I feel the loss. I feel it was if it was mine. I feel the loss of everyone, the actions weight on me, I’m guilty of those crimes because I pushed the buttons that make them happen. I was, indeed, ignorant, but that doesn’t excuse my actions.
In Dark Souls it’s a similar situation, where my actions are totally useless, I’m giving up everything for nothing, but there are people, a world for whom I care for and that I would like to save even if that means nothing. I would like to burn, I would like to burn to save those I like, to save a world where I never talked to Solaire, a world where he can still seek for his sun. Or worse, open his path to become a worthless temporary sun but fulfill his dream.
The tragedy of the events of both NIER and Dark Souls makes the endings affective, not only because it’s sad but because you played a fundamental role in making things happen. In Cibele those weren’t your decisions, you did nothing for that to happen and, in the end, you feel nothing. Or at least, I didn’t.
But I do want to address one more thing before I close this post: Blake is an ass.
Yes, he tells Nina he loves. Yes, he tells her he wants to fuck her. But that only makes him a bigger asshole. Not only because what he does in the end, but because he sends me all kinds of red flags.
In one of the calls, Nina apologizes for not talking to him much because she wants to go out with some friends, they wanted to gossip and that’s all fine and dandy and to this, he answers and I quote:
Nothing more, nothing less.
DEAR SIR, I DID NOT KNOW THAT HAVING FRIENDS IS LAME. BUT OF COURSE, WHY DO WE NEED FRIENDS FOR AM I RIGHT?
It becomes even worse when he tells her that he’s anti-social or better yet anti-connections and doesn’t know how to deal with the feelings he feels for her.
Let’s go back to the fact that I’m in an LDR, shall we? This person I like doesn’t know how to deal with feelings. He’s a very reserved, calm person who doesn’t feel very strongly unless it’s at the exact moment. As he told me I’m not an explosion. I can understand that feelings are hard and not all people know or want to deal them at all times. To top it all off, we come from different countries, cultures, and environments. This affects how we deal with our feelings and how we express them. I remember very vividly that on our second day together, he confessed that he didn’t know how to act around me and deal with his feelings. He never had a relationship like this and he was having a hard time doing the things he wanted. It’s a slow process, but one thing is for sure, he is always sure that he cares for me in a very special way.
How is this different from Blake?
If you look his dialogue you’ll slowly realize that he’s catering to Nina’s insecurities, nothing from him feels honest and, probably, that was the objective but knowing that so early in the same makes everything so boring. I know right away that Blake is an ass, my identification with the game is over and I just want to turn it off and go back to Final Fantasy X-2.
I know that Blake isn’t an anti-social, he’s just finding excuses to get what he wants. He’s not like that person I like, closed and scared to get hurt, he just wants to fuck Nina. And that makes me angry.
Cibele makes me angry. Not because of the cringeworthy writing, acting or the bad cinematography. Not because Nina has the taste of a 15-year-old, or because the game is so short.
But because the game could have done so much, it could have told such a great story and addressed so many important issues and failed and every single one of them. It fails at being a game, it fails at being a good story.
I’m sorry Nina Freeman, but as someone who went through a check list of the things described in your game, I deeply and utterly hate it.
Avoid this game like the fucking plague.