CINERIS SOMNIA is a rather unfortunate walking simulator. The story contained within is told in a very interesting way, quite unlike other walking simulators I have played. However, just about everything else in the game simply does not match this quality, resulting in a rather shallow experience.
Interesting storytelling. If there is one thing CINERIS SOMNIA does well, it would be the way in which it tells its story. The game uses a variety of different storytelling methods, from notes, to dialogue, to even the environment itself. In fact, I was quite impressed with how one of the game’s episodes made use of its changing environment to tell its story. It was an indirect way of telling the story, but it definitely worked for the message it was trying to convey, even if it took forever to get to that point.
Dated graphics. For a walking simulator, CINERIS SOMNIA has some rather disappointing graphics. Everything outside of the character models just looks dated, like it was made to be a PlayStation 3 launch title. Textures are low-res across the board, objects are constantly clipping into each other, and the foliage is not even in 3D, instead being just single texture sheets scattered throughout the world. I would normally expect a walking simulator to place emphasis on its story and graphics, but CINERIS SOMNIA has definitely faltered on the latter.
Incredibly slow walking speed. I understand that this is a walking simulator and walking is a part of the genre, but it is just painfully slow here. The game has two options when it comes to movement, the first being “walk” and the other being “run”. However, the game’s definition of “run” is optimistic at best, as the speed barely reaches 2mph (or 3.2km/h). As such, it often takes several minutes of pointless walking in order to get anywhere. It would be different if there was stuff to see along the way, but that just is not the case here.
Constant backtracking. This is more of an extension of the previous point, but it is such a problem in itself that it deserves its own spot. CINERIS SOMNIA is a walking simulator that not only has a painfully slow walking speed, but also requires constant backtracking in order to complete its objectives. Oftentimes, the player will be given an objective in one location that requires crossing the entire map, only to then be given another objective there to cross all the way back. It grew extremely frustrating, especially because the reward was usually just a letter or a couple lines of dialogue. If the walking speed was maybe three or four times faster, then this may not be so much a problem, but as it stands, it really just hinders the experience.
Uncooperative camera. CINERIS SOMNIA has one of the most uncooperative cameras I have seen in a walking simulator. When outdoors, the game’s camera usually works as intended, but when moving around indoors, it can be very frustrating. This is largely due to the game’s constant camera angle switching. Normally, the camera is positioned behind the player (for a third-person perspective), but when entering certain areas, the camera angle would switch to a static camera somewhere in the room, usually up in a corner like a surveillance camera. Not only is this a jarring shift in camera angle, but it also completely changes the controls used. Suddenly, W no longer moves the character forward, but instead moves them right or left, depending on where the new camera is placed. The change in camera angle is seamless, so I would oftentimes find myself moving in the wrong direction for a bit upon entering a new room. It was annoying, but at least the gimmick was limited to just indoor areas.
Small font size. Given that this is a Japanese game, I had expected subtitles going into it. However, what I did not expect was for the subtitles to be so small, enough so that some may even have trouble reading them at all. It also does not help that they are displayed in a strange font that has really thin letters. The fact that this cannot be configured really is just unacceptable for a game released in 2018, so hopefully this feature gets added in some future patch, but that is just me being optimistic.
The story contained within CINERIS SOMNIA is not even that bad, it just has too many problems trying to convey it. From technical issues to bad design choices, the game falters in just about every regard. Even if some of these issues get patched, the game’s constant backtracking really hinders the experience, enough so that I would not recommend the game due to that issue alone.
You can buy CINERIS SOMNIA on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.