Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator (Switch) Review

Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator is a unique simulation game published by PQube Games and developed by Studio Namaapa. Ciel Fledge is the developer’s second game, the first being Nusakana which was a JRPG about dating fish girls and solving the mystery of the island you’re on. But, games aside, they’re a small Indonesian developer founded by ‘Num’ and ‘wltr3565’. Indonesia has been putting out stellar titles like Ghost Parade and Coffee Talk as of late, so you can expect greatness from Studio Namaapa as well!

Ciel Fledge takes place in the future, in the year 3716, where the majority of mankind is forced to seek refuge in shelters; sky platform armadas called Arks. These Arks are pretty much floating cities, where the surface world stands devastated due to a waging war between humans and alien creatures known as “Gigants”. This war has caused one of the Arks, Ark 5, to be destroyed. Ciel, rescued by an Ark 3 military member, is found stranded near Ark 5’s destruction site. You learn that she was the only Ark 5 survivor. Due to Ark 3’s administration’s decision, you are designated as the guardian to raise this young girl as your adopted daughter for the next 10 years.

Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator, tasks you to be the foster parent to Ciel, hoping to raise her properly over the next decade.
Ciel Fledge 1I don’t normally review OST’s in my reviews, but I find it imperative to do so for Ciel Fledge as it’s amazing. So, as I advised above, you’re in an inter-species war in a post-apocalyptic type scenario. To me, the words that I identify with this setting would be desolate, void, cold, empty, etc. Upon booting up Ciel you are greeted with menu music encapsulating those feelings perfectly. It has an echo-ey, empty feeling that makes me not only hear but ‘feel’ the distress that’d come in a dystopian setting. Now, speaking of an appropriate and well defined OST, Ciel Fledge’s music ‘evolves’ along with Ciel – As she enters the new stages of her life, the soundtrack changes to represent not only the state of Ark 3 at that point, but also the situation and position Ciel is in.

Gameplay
Moving onto the actual gameplay now, Ciel Fledge is nothing short of my childhood’s dream game. Growing up in the ’90s, I spent a lot of time playing Java and Flash games on the web – I was addicted to Dating Sims and low-budget western visual novels presented in Flash. So, with the transition from simple browser-based games to more robust console games, Ciel Fledge is very nostalgic to me as it felt like I was playing a more advanced game of my youth.

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Being a rather deep and detailed Daughter Raising Simulation game, there’s a lot of micromanaging involved and responsibility options to choose from. The game itself is played out in 1-week segments, segments which are pre-planned by yourself within your apartment before the week plays out.
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There are four key ways to monitor and customise your ‘daughter’, these are:
Status: This is where you’ll get the general overview of Ciel’s status: her stats, height, weight, masteries, and traits. It also lets you know her current mood (which is important).
Techniques: These are abilities which will come in handy for battles and exploration.
Equipment: You can dress up your daughter in new clothing, some of which offer various boosts. However, if you try to take all her clothes off, she’ll rightfully shout at you!
Items: As you’d expect, they are items which help increase her stats, mood, affection, health, as well as offer general parenting boosts which you’ll need.

To help you plan out your days and keep up with the story and the development of your daughter, the following options are available:
Ciel has a Focus Tree where you can see all of her goals she’s trying to work towards, each earning achievements and rewards upon meeting the criteria as well as giving you something to aim for if you need inspiration. This section also lists all your friendships with the other kids.

There’s a ‘Personal Tab‘ which lets you adjust your parenting style, such as whether you forgive or scold her for doing certain things, or what type of allowance she gets. The choices you make all affect Ciel’s mood, both positively and negatively, so you need to experiment and see which parenting style you feel is best for the kind of daughter you wish to raise.

You’ll receive mail in your Mailbox which pertains to story related mail, character mail, relations mail, etc.

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Finally, once you’re ready to plan out your week and move on with the story, we have the Schedule option…
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Scheduling in Ciel Fledge is no easy task. You’ll be planning 1-week segments at a time, broken into 3 segments; your duties, Ciel’s meals, and her week. Your duties will influence her stats, your income, and your parenting style. The meals cost money and they heavily influence Ciel through stats, growth, weight, diets, and more. Her week is the biggest task and is by no means an easy thing to plan. She can’t do stuff if she’s too tired, if her discipline is low she will break plans, if it’s a holiday you can’t do activities, will you shop or visit friends, which locations should you go to for stat upgrades, do you give her a job, the choices are limitless depending on what’s available. Talking to Ciel in the house, and exploring your house are options too, just not as frequent.

In the beginning, you start with a wide array of choices to schedule for Ciel. You’ll have part-time jobs, supervising, spoiling and overtime work for yourself. Basic, scarce, and lavish meal plans for the week. Arithmetics, art, civic, gymnastics, and public schools as ‘training’. Resting, and friends are also miscellaneous choices. Before long, as you upgrade and make new friends, you’ll unlock new ‘jobs’, locations to train, people to socialise with and more. 

Anything under the ‘train’ category will give you more stats, a very basic concept. Jobs allow Ciel to earn money along with stat upgrades, sort of the parent equivalent to chores and responsibilities. Shopping is a miscellaneous action, and as such can only be done on Day seven, at the end of the week. Shopping allows you to choose between eight different shops on the Ark; clothing, food, meal plans, accessories, items, etc. You’ll need to know what to buy ahead of time though as you can only visit three shops in one trip.

The BIG unlockable action is exploration, allowing Ciel to venture to the surface world below for a multitude of different reasons. You’ll visit many locations with different difficulties which can put Ciel in quite a magnitude of danger, yet it’s worth it. You’ll scour for items, gain loot from battles, and see events. You can even bring a party and greatly boost your social standing with the members, there’s a lot of bonuses for exploring the surface world, despite the dangers it holds.
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However you see fit to raise Ciel, the majority of your time, aside from the exploration, will be doing tasks in Ark 3. As Ciel runs around the city, she’ll get into battles, events, talks, cut scenes and more. This brings me to the last key element of Ciel Fledge, battles. There are three types of battling; quiz, score, and fights. Quizzing is all about completing the specific instruction given, scoring is all about increasing the score, and fights are self-explanatory.

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The common element between these three is how they’re done, it’s pretty much a match-three-type mini-game. It’s more than just a match-three game though as you’ll need to master the multipliers, shuffling, discarding, resets, morale, bursts, etc. The battling in Ciel Fledge is a complex mini-game in itself that requires quite some getting used to.

The one thing you’ll note about Ciel Fledge, no matter where you go, is the visuals. In the age of Ultra-HD, photo-realism, RTX, etc. Ciel by no standards will match up to any of that. That isn’t to say I don’t love the visuals, art is a very broad range and always appeals to a certain demographic, as will Ciel Fledge. The basis of sim games and western visual novels of the 90s was always a flat geometric looking art style; little cross-hatching, not much shading, lots of lines, basic with an almost ‘MS Paint’ looking design. In this sense, Ciel Fledge stays true to the roots of its genre and to that I tip my hat. I absolutely felt right at home with the visuals, specifically the colour scheme. There’s not a lot of reds, oranges, yellows or very bright colours, it’s more about the blues and pastel colours. Given Ciel Fledge’s dystopian setting, the ‘cold’ colour scheme they chose suits it very well.

This isn’t even the vast majority of everything covered, Ciel Fledge is a simulator of huge proportions. Ciel’s affection defines choices and paths in the game, her traits are what dictates your gains, conditions can hinder you as Ciel can get very sick or depressed, the Focus Tree is used to track progress, you really have to micromanage everything making you, well, a parent to the poor girl. The question to be asked though is, Ciel Fledge has the quantity and depth a game should have, as you clearly see above, but does it all execute well?
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Execution
Ciel Fledge, the game that I wanted to love. This was to be my baby, I was yearning for this ever since it was announced. Ciel is a diamond in the rough; Yes it’s a diamond and very valuable and loved, but it needs to be cleaned and polished to reach its full lustre. Immediately, you’ll notice a few things about Ciel Fledge; it has directional support, analogue support, and touch screen support (yay), allowing anyone to play with their preference. I prefer analogue myself but Ciel impedes on this in a minor fashion. Whenever you use the touch screen the thumbsticks won’t respond until you press one of the D-pad buttons, telling the game you no longer wish to use the touch-screen. It’s very odd but not that much of an issue, except in battles.

If you use the thumbstick in battle it’s sensitive and awkward, making you pick the wrong items quite often, and the ‘D-Pad’ on the Joycons is fiddly to use diagonally, so you resort to using the touchscreen – meaning you have to push one of the ‘D-Pad’ buttons when you wish to use the thumbstick again. Playing the game isn’t hindered much but occasionally the scheduling won’t let you click things, it shows the wrong picture, or sometimes it shows nothing at all, but a simple close and re-open of the schedule will fix that.

That’s about it for the few ‘technical flaws’, which now brings me to the main execution point. Ciel Fledge has A LOT going for it, so it’s understandable that it has some rough edges, but these rough edges make the game hard to understand for beginners and veterans alike. Let’s talk about Ciel, a foster daughter you are to raise. In this game it’s done through stats, traits, and more. Let’s talk about stats, you go to the gym for strength, to yoga for spirit, to art for creativity, etc. Build up all your stats and make a beautiful Ciel… or you should.

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This game has a ‘weakening’ system that has Ciel’s stats deteriorate. In my opinion, this weakening system is poorly explained – you talk with Ciel who explains she wants to do more school, so I sent her to school EVERY week and I did strength training EVERY week and BOOM, she’d lose 5 strength. So I stopped, maybe I was overworking her? Then, again, I’d lose more strength. This wouldn’t be a problem if it was only the one stat, but no, you lose like 2-5 points in about 1-4 fields often. The weakening mechanic is not in the manual either, so I’m at a loss as to how this mechanic ‘works’.
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Moving on from stats are Ciel’s traits, the quirks that give her bonuses. Less stamina depletion, better stocks in battle, more stat gains, there are A LOT of traits you can imbue on the lovely Ciel… If only you knew what they did… You can go into the equipment tab at home and when equipping, it’ll say in subtext what the trait does, which is great if you are at home in this particular section. Let’s say you go to the store and want to buy a piece of clothing for your daughter, at $6000 each. Well, until you buy it and take it home, you won’t know what the trait does and how it’ll affect young Ciel.

Looking through the Focus Tree and see a nifty reward? Earn it and you’ll know what the trait does, otherwise, you have no idea. A little window informing you, or even an encyclopedia of in-game traits, would be super handy. On the whole equipment factor, I will be nitpicky about this. She starts off with only a dress and a few accessories, I wish she had a few other alternative clothing such as a shirt and shorts – not for the cosmetic reason but because I saved up 15,000 and bought her a new shirt only to be told that she can’t wear it since she’ll just be in her panties. What 10-year-old girl doesn’t own pants or shorts?

On a side-note, Ciel Fledge has an auto-save feature after every week starts, which is fortunate because on more than one occasion it has crashed whilst accessing items and equipment, but only in those menus and nowhere else.
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Besides the nitty-gritty technical flaws, performance issues, and the occasional problem, Ciel Fledge is an absolute gem the further you get into it. That’s the key factor here, you’ll need to put some effort into making it into the game. During her childhood years, the game is very slow-paced, which could turn people off. Take the entire first year for example, or 1/10th of the game – which is about 3-5 hours of gameplay. I unlocked two jobs, two or three training locations, shopping, and excavation for schedules. In my Focus Tree, besides masteries of stats, I earned two new goals to work towards which totals six goals in the first year with all six being accomplishable within the first two months with ease. Exploration doesn’t even unlock until Month ten.

So, for the entire 1st year, you pretty much have zilch for goals, your weeks are limited and very repetitive, and it’s slow going with story-events happening bi-monthly. As Ciel changes stages, and the game progresses you get A LOT more content and stuff that really varies the gameplay. But again, you have to put effort to make it there.

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Socialising is a big part of Ciel Fledge too! You talk to people every week, talking to friends is a common schedule choice, they’re your team in parties, they explore with you, etc. The problem is that the connection doesn’t feel ‘simulative’ of friendship. Becky, for example, has a birthday on Arcturus 6th and I have level 17 friendship with her. Guess who didn’t get invited to the party? This guy.

Cut scenes with friends are also misplaced – around two months into the game I had friendship level 4 with Becky because I hung out with her every weekend for 2 months straight. During the 3rd month, I had a cut scene where I met Becky for the 2nd time in which we had to reacquaint with each other as we forgot names and details of each other. I don’t know about you but I tend to not forget the names of people I’m at friendship level 4 with!
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The housing in Ciel has a small but neat feature, depending on the time you play Ciel Fledge, it reflects the time of day in-game – which I love. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of your house. You can look around and explore the Balcony, Bedroom, Kitchen, Living Room, and Front Door, but there’s not really any interaction. Interaction is the missing element in your home and that unfortunately also includes the limited interactions you have with Ciel. You can interact with Ciel in two ways, pressing X will show you her current thoughts and pressing Y will initiate a proper conversation with responses and choices! Fantastic, except that this option only occurs when events happen in-game, so you’ll talk to Ciel about once a month if you’re lucky.

I found shopping to be more of a hindrance than it should be. As you can only visit three shops at a time, if you wish to browse all eight of them, you need to go shopping three times over three weeks. You can’t view the inventory on sale unless you enter the store either, so if you forgot which store had the item you wanted you better get it right within three guesses or try again next week. I get the realism behind raising a child and ‘shopping takes all day’ pitch, but this is one thing that it could’ve forewent.

While you execute your week, you’ll have random encounters of the match-three battles. My advice, skip them – Ciel Fledge, doesn’t have a battle progression system so participating in them isn’t essential in most instances. Also, you won’t know the battle type until you accept the battle, and unless it’s a quiz type with easy instructions or a low score battle, encounters in the first year are very unforgiving and leave you with frustration that impedes on enjoyment, so avoid them.

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You’ll notice I mention the ‘first year’ a lot. That’s because that’s this games biggest flaw, a weak opening. If you get past the initial 6-8 hours, Ciel will start pouring out unlocks, the money, the exploration, proper battles, content and so much more! But, it requires you getting past the monotony of year one. If you can make it past that, you’ll see the gem that Ciel Fledge is with hundreds of items, more than 100 weekly activities, a plethora of techniques, and over 20 different endings!

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion
Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator is the epitome of simulators with its detailed micromanagement and deep gameplay mechanics. Sure, the game has a few rough edges and would benefit from a few updates to the Switch version in order to make it more console-friendly, but there’s nothing game-breaking. Raising a child is no easy task, Ciel Fledge perfectly emulates this with the constant demands and its high-learning curve of what parenting is actually like. With a constantly evolving child, alongside a constantly evolving world, Ciel Fledge is a game that requires you to adapt to the situation based upon how you want your child to grow.

I often found myself with some free time so I decided to ‘pick-up and play’ Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator for a few minutes. However, I always seemed to indulge in 6+ months stints in one sitting, the game hooked me and had me addicted to caring for the wellbeing of my virtual daughter. You’ll come to love Ciel as much as you could any virtual child.

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator

£17.99
8.4

Final Score

8.4/10

The Good:

  • - Complexity offers a lot of content and good challenges
  • - The soundtrack
  • - The wide variety of things you can simulate
  • - Great game length for a simulator
  • - Replayability through multiple clear counts

The Bad:

  • - Certain features left unexplained
  • - Learning different traits
  • - Slow beginning
  • - Slow pacing in childhood
  • - Socialising leaves more to be desired
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