Developed by Nina Freeman
It’s rare for a game, indie or otherwise, to be so intimate in any aspect. Personal, sure, developers often pour their heart and soul into their projects and that often shows. But that’s it, they show their efforts, the external end result of their years long project. Rarely does that effort produce intimacy, as if the developers themselves are opening internally rather than the external result they produced. Maybe in bits and spurts here and there, but those intimate moments are usually reserved for either huge gut-punches/twists in the story, or for 4th-wall breaks where the developer knowingly winks at the player.
Cibele is the first game in recent memory that doesn’t shy away from that intimacy, both in what I’ve described and in the subject matter itself. Though it is simple and short, it manages to seep into your mind and develop that intimacy remarkably quickly.
You’d think that exploring a desktop, fake or not, would make one feel voyeuristic, icky even. But digging through Freeman’s folders, peeking at pictures of friends and family, stumbling on racy images sent to her online lover, and reading archived blog posts of hers feels almost inviting. It’s not shown as sneaking around Freeman’s computer when she isn’t looking, folders aren’t named “DO NOT OPEN” or other foreboding names like you’d see in other games.
Everything is as if you are Freeman herself, browsing her computer, logging on to play a round of Valtameri (the in-game MMO Freeman and her lover play online together) before bed. These files are deliberately, and most importantly willingly, placed in the game by Freeman as if she is welcoming the player to explore her life. It’s this willingness to be open and vulnerable to the player that I find incredibly brave and compelling.
It’s a bravery I wish I had at times. A bravery to just go out and do something, even if it may be viewed as out of the ordinary or “too personal” or something to that effect. Since graduating I’ve been wanting to do something, specifically in making a youtube video of some kind, but I keep putting it aside and demotivating myself because of thoughts like “it’s too personal” and “it’s not original”. Maybe I can take something away from Freeman and just say fuck it and do it anyway.