Cibele Review

Screenshot from Cibele
Cibele is the name of Nina's player character in the MMORPG Valtameri

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Star Maid Games
  • Publisher: Star Maid Games
  • Release Date: 3 Nov 2015
  • Time played: 1.4 hours

What is it

Like my review for the game Abalone, there isn't too much information about the game developer Star Maid Games, except that the designer happens to be the main actor in the game, Nina Freeman.

Nina Freeman (who is currently employed by Fullbright, the studio behind Gone Home and Tacoma) is a video game designer who develops games featuring themes of sexuality and self-reflection. Freeman and her team developed a game for the 2014 Global Game Jam called How Do You Do It which puts the player in the role of a 11-year old girl trying to figure out how sex works with Barbie dolls. It was nominated as a finalist at IndieCade and Independent Games Festival (IGF) and is currently available for free on Steam (with a "Very Positive" rating based on 2,661 reviews).

Freeman graduated from NYU Poly in 2015 and her thesis project became her first commercially released game called Cibele. The game is based on actual events and details the awkwardness of dating through online computer games. The game won a Nuovo Award at the 2016 Independent Games Festival. On Metacritic, the game holds a Metascore of 71 (meaning "mixed or average reviews") and this is also reflected in the Steam rating of "Mixed" based on 326 reviews.

How I got it

I acquired this game quite a while back now since it came as part of the "Humble Narrative Bundle" along with games like Her Story, 80 Days and Sorcery!. I do enjoy games with strong narratives so I thought it only fitting that I try this one out too.

Screenshot from Cibele
Occasionally the story is told through FMVs

What I like:

Awkwardness of online relationships

Online relationships, especially ones that flourish in online computer games, are sometimes confusing and awkward, and this game is perfect at capturing those feelings as you play the role of Nina, a 19 year old girl who is addicted to an online game called Valtameri. While I never went to the same extent in a relationship as Nina does in this story, I can draw some parallels from my own experiences and there's definitely something to be said for the differences of meeting someone in person and dealing with their online persona, no matter how transparent you are about how you look, what you feel and what you think. And yet, online relationships are so prevalent nowadays, so there are many of us, for better or worse, expressing our most intimate thoughts, online; it's probably something a lot can relate to.

Role reversal

While it's only slightly skewed to one side of the scales over the other, this game manages to explore a relationship where the woman is the pro-active element rather than the man, which is atypical in more "conventional" relationships where men are meant to be more forthcoming and are the instigators of just about everything.

Exploring clan dynamics

While this isn't as prominent a theme as the online romance, it did hit quite close to home when there was mention by the current clan leader of a schism occurring in the past which is how he usurped the existing leader from power. He claims it's because he gets stuff done and clearly dictates what he expects from every clan member.

Having experienced clan schisms twice as a clan leader, I had a bit of a chuckle when hearing the clan leader's opinion on why everybody looked up to him as a leader. It also makes what happens later in the story that more ironic…


As my regular readers know, I love FMV and while this game only has a few FMVs, they're pretty well done.

Screenshot from Cibele
The bulk of the background story is gleaned from emails, photos and documents on the Desktop

What I dislike:

Actual gameplay is lacking

While you're playing the game, you get to learn more about Nina's world through chat messages, emails, voice and photos. Progressing the story (i.e. the trigger for all aforementioned chat messages, emails, voice and photos) is done by playing what seems similar to a boring clicker game disguised as an MMO. So, if you're looking for a game that's actually fun to play in the classic sense, this one's not it.


The game is very short and only takes an hour to complete. Thankfully, the game's short duration means you can play it in one sitting, which is also advisable since the game only auto-saves at the start of a new act. So, if you only play for about 20 minutes (like I did the first time I touched this game) all your progress is lost.

No Steam Achievements or Trading Cards

☹ (not that there'd be much point mind you – the game is short and linear so you could only realistically have one achievement for just finishing the game 😉)

Score – 7/10 (Good)

Despite actual gameplay being somewhat lacking and only taking one hour to complete, many will find the story of Cibele relatable or even enlightening when it comes to the dynamics of online relationships and of those we play computer games with.

Is the game worth $12.95 AUD?: No. If it were on sale for half price, sure, but considering the game is only an hour long you could probably watch a movie of the same duration that explores the same themes for less.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official Cibele Website ]