Friends with young children often tell me how exhausting parenting can be. With fatigued voices, I’m frequently reminded how lucky I am to not have any kids of my own. But acquittances with older children habitually radiate a sense of sublime satisfaction, offering up an endless succession of stories about their little prodigies. Delve into Studio Namaapa’s sophomore release, Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator and you’re bound to feel both of these divergent emotions.
Drawing obvious inspiration from Gainax’s Princess Maker series, Ciel Fledge puts you in the role of adoptive caregiver for a young girl. The title eschews the medieval European context of Princess Maker, opting for a dystopian context that provides some opportunities for plot beats. Set in the year 3716, Earth has been attacked by an alien force referred to as Gigant. Humanity was forced to take refuge in the atmosphere above, aboard city-like ships known as Arks. But when one of the Arks is destroyed, you’re assigned with caring for one of the survivors, a young girl whose default name is Ciel (fittingly, “Sky” in French).
A Complex Parenting Sim
But before you begin your week-based stint at parenting, you’ll need to create a character. Beyond selecting a title and providing a name for Ciel’s guardian, you’ll choose your background from a trio of options. Whether you were born on the surface, in the sky, or a genetically engineered experiment spiritedly known as a “Vatgrown Baby”, you’re past will have a pronounced effect on little Ciel. Unlike most games Daughter Raising Simulator doesn’t always provide immediate or even predictable feedback for your choice. Instead, the beauty is in a simulation where many stats are deliberately buried deep in the menu system. There are few true causations in Ciel Fledge. Instead almost every facet is gently influenced by a multitude of variables.
If you’re selected ‘intelligence’ as your skill, occupations like scientist, doctor, and engineer are available to you. But the impact passed on to your adopted daughter isn’t clear. Once I role-played as a soldier, the next time as a scientist, and my daughter was bookish, determined, and likable each time. But beyond those traits, each Ciel was a different individual, with distinctive demeanors and vocational interests. Most likely my parenting and conflict style was import in the game’s simulation. When I changed into a jerk-dad that constantly scolded her, my third Ciel had quite a different temperament.
Planning is the Key to Parenting?
Organized by weekly scheduling, you’ll make broad decisions. You can spend the span working to earn some income, prodding your daughter’s productivity, or spending recreational time that might build bonds. You’ll also set aside a diet and daily program for little Ciel, enrolling her in a growing list of academic subjects, putting her in a part-time job, or just letting her relax and socialize with friends.
Inexplicably, I found myself emulating by own hectic upbringing and overworked Ciel, causing her to get sick. The result was a stern lecture from a representative from the adoption agency and a restorative elixir. Here, Ciel Fledge demonstrated its ability to function as a Rorschach Test, letting me reflect on my inherited attitudes toward parenting. However, if you wish to role-play, A Daughter Raising Simulator lets offers a robust range between negligence and micro-managing helicopter parenting. Naturally, there are limits, and coding ensures Ciel will never have to face enduring neglect or abuse. And yes, I was arrested once for pushing Ciel a bit too hard academically, causing her health to deteriorate.
A Sprawling Focus Tree
Over time, progress will be made in Ciel’s academic and vocational choices, opening up possibilities for growth. Dig into the game’s menus and you’ll discover a Focus Tree which displays your daughter’s potentials. But smartly, the entire chart isn’t displayed. Instead, you’ll often see ambiguously named descriptions and distant capabilities that are blank, representing the inability to conceptualize untapped aptitudes. In execution, this might help players become immersed in the simulation rather than playing the game to achieve a specific outcome.
Interestingly, Ciel Fledge shirks traditional role-playing battle systems for a conflict management minigame that used to assess everything from friendly rivalries to classroom learning. Here you’ll match trios of identically colored cards, providing some interaction where you have direct control. Complexity comes in the form of techniques, with the ability to temporarily pause time or even call of your friends for assistance. Unsurprisingly, the amount of help they provide is related to the strength of your acquaintance. Another interesting component is the selected skills you bring into conflict. While creativity might be useful when Ciel visits the art museum and socializes with friends, its significance is diminished when physical conflict breaks out.
While A Daughter Raising Simulator still has a few weeks to improve things before the final build is scheduled for release on February 21st, 2020 a few issues afflict the current build. Foremost is the game’s interface which supports both controller and well as a traditional mouse and keyboard scheme. Habitually, it’s not quite as responsive as it should be, seemingly switching between the two modes. Clothing is another problem for the current build. As Ciel outgrows her attire, strange visual quirks occur.
Aesthetically, the game can a bit underwhelming. While Ciel Fledge seem to aim for an anime-inspired characters, the art style is similar to Western visual novels and lacks adorability while backdrops are minimal. On the upside, chibi representations of cast members are cute, and Ciel’s facial expressions serve as an easily read signified of her mood. Sonically, the game’s soundtrack offers relaxing solo piano pieces and upbeat but unmemorable attempts at capturing the blissful buoyancy of City Pop. Voicework is limited to small soundbites performed in English. Overall, Ciel Fledge’s look and sound are serviceable and its user interface is intuitive, exhibiting an emphasis on substance rather than style.
The best simulations teach us things about the world and occasionally might even reveal something about ourselves. A week with Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator encouraged me to reflect on my own attitudes toward parenthood and think about where those outlooks came from. But look any good interactive sim, the game is more than just a catalyst for contemplation. Stick with it and you’ll find a serene sense of satisfaction is raising a digital being. While the game hosts a multitude of endings, it’s the gratification of seeing the results of my coaching, nagging, and devotion that ultimately makes Ciel Fledge feel special.
Games have long been able to elicit anger or worry but imitating the bond between child and parent has been elusive for the medium. Ciel Fledge offers a worthwhile simulation of that sublime sentiment.
An alpha demo of Ciel Fledge is available here
Platform: PC, Switch
Developer: Studio Namaapa
Publisher: Pqube Limited
Release date: February 21st, 2020