I actually finished this game a couple of days ago, but I've been deliberating on what to say about it. It's very short, I'm going to tell you the whole plot in one sentence, so if you plan on ever playing it, fair warning. A girl in college meets a guy in an MMO, they decide to meet (for sex), then he dumps her.
As for game mechanics, there basically are none. The story is told in three acts, and each one has a phase of exploring the desktop, then a phase of clicking through the MMO. You aren't given any choices, and the story is completely linear. I suppose a little bit of context with the side characters would be lost if you didn't go poking through her files, but that's about it.
If I had to re-categorize it, I would say it is an interactive series of journal entries. I think in this context I would give it a much higher rating, but I'm not sure if Cibele even qualifies as a game. To it's credit, I really have been sitting here trying to answer the question of what the qualifications of a game even are. I guess there is no denying this is a piece of art, possibly poorly marketed as a game.
Hypothetical questions aside, this was sold to me as a game and I'm critiquing it as such. A reminder that everything I write on this site is my subjective opinion, also. Which leads me to gameplay. Like I touched on, there pretty much is none. During the MMO sections, you click on enemies and the avatar will auto attack until the boss appears. During the desktop sections it's really just how you would imagine looking through someone else's desktop would be, except the windows don't behave like you expect them to.
The story I said is pretty brief. You pick up some background through snippets of chat dialogs that Nina, the protagonist, has saved in folders. There are also selfies, pictures of friends, fan art, files from a long-forgotten website, and poetry. As the game progresses the selfies get racier as does the poetry. While playing the MMO sections, Nina chats with Blake, the man she is falling in love with, and this is where the plot progresses. They start out casually flirty, and eventually are exchanging "I love you." The dialog between them is cringe inducing, listening to them tell each other how hot they think the other is was just… the worst. The guy is waving red flags at her all day and her response is to insist that they meet. Well, okay I guess. It's not like I've never made a stupid decision relating to a guy. After they meet and have sex, he tells her it was a mistake and he doesn't love her, and leaves. Then, the game crashes, so you have to play the third act again… wait, that wasn't intended? Anyway, that was the end of the story. There's no real resolution, which I suppose is how life goes sometimes but, it really does leave you unsatisfied.
After I finished this game I looked it up on Wikipedia hoping for some context. The only context I got somehow made my opinion of this game worse: The main character is played by the game designer and was something she wrote detailing actual events in her life when playing FFXI. She didn't even change her name, this was meant to be completely autobiographical. It raised so many more questions for me. If you wrote this about your own experience, don't you detail a little more how it made you feel? Don't you leave a message for young women going through similar experiences? I guess these things are not mandatory to do, but the ambiguity of it all left me really wondering what she was trying to say, if anything at all. Why did she want us to relive this particular chapter of her life? Why did she include so many pictures of herself in nothing but underwear? Is it just me, missing some point because in a way I am too close to it?
To wrap it up, I want to say, this game was very hard to review. I wanted to like it. I support women talking about their unique online experiences and other aspects of their lives. I related a lot to Nina and her website files really could have been copy and pasted from my own ancient websites. We are even close in age. I sympathize with the heart break and have certainly met men like Blake. I can't put my finger on it, but I guess this wasn't a story I wanted to be told, having lived similar things myself. There was no unique point of view, no resolution. It just made me sad.
PS - I disagree with all the negative reviews on Steam that mention the characters being shallow. Taking pictures of yourself and enjoying being told you're good looking doesn't make you shallow. I also spent a lot of time reading positive reviews on Steam and I certainly think they are deserved. Almost all of them mention self reflection or relate to the characters in a personal way. I am not going to change my rating, but I suppose there is something to be said for the amount of thinking I did after playing this. It was a lot, I finished the game two days ago!
PPS - From a technical standpoint, I don't think this game was well developed, and I forgot to talk about it, because I was too worried how to talk about everything else, and it greatly affected the score. This damn game crashed twice on me which is two times too many for a two hour game. The desktop navigation was kind of annoying, sometimes windows would open under each other. The MMO sequences were all point and click and yet the pathing was not great, I kept getting stuck on corners. There was nothing else to do, how do you mess up the pathing? Not to mention, I had to mess with the file structures to get the game to even open in Steam.
PPPS - Nina Freeman's wiki article sounds like a fan wrote it. Ok, I'm done.