At first glance, Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator seems like an eclectic blend of game genres and themes. It aims to combine life simulators, turn-based RPGs, and visual novels into an epic ten-year journey of your adopted daughter's life. After playing through early parts of the game in my preview, I knew I had only scratched the surface of what the game had to offer, and I was excited to see if this blend coalesced into a complete package.
Ciel Fledge Review | Training Day
A major part of Ciel Fledge is taking care of your daughter. Several different stats represent her welfare and overall health. You can affect these stats through making choices, equipping clothing, and using consumable items.
There are four "status" bars that are a factor in everyday life: Stamina, Discipline, Mood, and Stress. You must manage each one for your daughter to do well in training and jobs. In the long term, your concern is primary and sub stats. The primary stats are stuff like Strength. Sub stats are skills placed underneath the umbrella of the primary stats like Athletics (under Strength) or Etiquette (under Charm). Players schedule a week's worth of activities, trying to balance her four status bars while optimally gaining primary stats and sub stats.
Ciel Fledge Review | Stat's All, Folks
Ciel loses stats at the start of every month due to something called "First Month of the Day Blues". I've encountered mechanics like this in games before, but it seemed particularly severe in Ciel Fledge. If you're fortunate, you can sustainably gain 28 stat points in a month. I lose 19 stats points in the above image, and there is no way to stop, slow, or otherwise mitigate this stat loss. These seems unnecessarily harsh and punishes players for experimenting.
I'd understand losing points due to a lack of training, but I found no way to reliably reduce the losses. It was so severe that I thought it was a bug and asked the publisher about it and was told that it was working as intended.
Ciel Fledge Review — The Patience of Job
The loss of stats is bad enough, but I encountered several other problems with the scheduling system, training, and jobs. One example is scheduling slots — extra slots are locked away until you open up more training and jobs. There is no extra challenge to having scheduling slots locked away. It is an artificial inconvenience that is reminiscent of a free-to-play game, but this is a premium title. This feels like a bad design decision.
You can only see the next few items on the massive list of potential training and jobs. As an example, I wanted to reach the top of the Military career track (associated with the Strength stat), but I couldn't find where the Medical skill was without a lot of trial and error.
Ciel Fledge Review — Gearing Up
One of the major ways to affect Ciel's abilities is through her clothes and accessories. Ciel starts with basic items, and you can purchase new ones with different effects once the shopping district opens. Just watch out, It can get very expensive.
Shopping is frustrating. You can only do it on Sundays and the items don't actually tell you what they do until you equip them. This is information that should be available to the player before they buy an item.
Ciel Fledge Review | It's In the Cards
There are undeniable issues with the stats and equipment mechanics. but the battle mechanics are where Ciel Fledge really shines. There are three different kinds of battles in Ciel Fledge, each with their own unique appeal and strategy. Clothing choices are also a factor for combat, lowering the cost of some Techniques.
Quiz Battles require the player to execute certain moves like "make 10 sets". Score Battles demand that you reach a certain score. Fight Battles are standard combat with all the hit points and status effects you'd expect. All three of these battles play out in the same system. Nine diamond-shaped, colored cards are on the center of the screen. The player must rapidly pick three cards of the same color. Each set banks a color that can be used to execute Techniques.
Combat is truly important when it comes to exploring the surface. You encounter several special events or battles in one session, and it is here that mastery of the combat system serves you well. I absolutely adore the whole thing, but there is one flaw: status effects. They are not explained well through the in-game interface. A lightning bolt will appear above you, but you don't know what the lightning bolt stands for. This can and should be fixed with simple on-screen text.
Ciel Fledge Review | Growing Up with Ciel
The game ends when Ciel turns 20. The passage of time naturally means that Ciel is going to grow and change. The story splits into three chapters, each with their own major events highlighting the split. The only real weakness I noticed in the game's storytelling was the complete lack of romance. It seems nigh impossible that there are teenagers who don't date their closest friends. (The don't have much going on in their love lives, either.) I feel like I missed out on a big part of a young girl's life.
Successive story chapters also unlock more training and jobs for Ciel. The Ark Administration is heartless, but not so heartless to make a child a full-fledged soldier. No, they'll wait until she's a teenager.
Ciel Fledge Review | Final Thoughts
Ciel Fledge is clearly geared towards replayability. It offers the players a lot of flexibility in how they decide to play and in the ultimate fate of their daughter. I set out with the desire to raise a kickass space marine and I managed to do just that. There are naturally other career paths available, too. I could have been a fighter pilot, a doctor, an artist, or something else entirely.
The ending was reminiscent of Fallout: New Vegas' slideshow showcasing major events in the story. You find out about the fate of your friends, too. Things neatly wrap up with a report card of sorts.
Aside from the combat, my favorite thing by far was the music. Every single track is a winner, and it feels like it changes and matures with your daughter as you play. This was one of the few parts of Ciel Fledge that I had absolutely no problems with.
Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator exceeded my expectations in some areas and greatly disappointed me in others in my 24 hours of gameplay. If the developer makes some of the in-game mechanics a bit more clear, I would recommend this to anyone. As it stands, Ciel Fledge is only a good pick for fans already deep into life simulators and their various intricacies.
TechRaptor reviewed Ciel Fledge on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Innovative Combat System
- Plenty of Replayability
- Vibrant Characters With Depth
- Catchy and Energetic Music
- Hidden Jobs & Training Wastes Time
- Lack Of In-Game Information
- Stat Loss Greatly Hinders Progress