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Cloudbuilt - Review by Fraser Graham (PC)

05
09
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Think yourself a speed runner? Pretty skilled? Finely tuned reaction speed? Goood, gooooood! Well prepare to have your limits tested. Cloudbuilt brings to the table, what I can only describe as, a combination of Sonic Generations, Megaman and Mirror's Edge, but on a more extreme level!

So let me enlighten you to the story of this gem of a game: You're a young girl by the name of Demi, a veteran of war who is put into mental rehabilitation. The levels in this game are part of her imagination, and represent her working through various problems as she fights to keep control of her mind. Each level you pass unlocks another part of the story and begins recapping the events that led her to this point. I thought this made for quite a unique experience, especially in the story telling sense, as not only are you gradually revealing the story, the segments are randomly revealed depending on which path you take so encourages you to complete the whole game to experience the full story, while getting you more engaged with it at the same time.

I’d like to take a minute to point out that I have not completed the game yet, alas I have failed, repeatedly). I have bitten myself in frustration, I will explain why:

This game has to be one of the most challenging games I have ever played (and I consider myself to be an above average gamer) Personally, I love fast paced games that you have to react quickly to and make split decisions or face demise. CloudBuilt is my Everest. Its fast, ruthless and an absolutely amazing experience but make no mistake, you will need time and A LOT of patience for this game, there are no skills to unlock, no upgrades to purchase, you are given everything you need from the start, so with blaster gun in hand and booster jets charged you are set on your way to master what i shall dub "Ultra-Parkour." Demi has many skills at her disposal, wall running, double jump, wall jumps, her booster pack allows for wall ascension which you are also able to steer and she also comes packing heat, with a 3 stage chargeable blaster. You will need to master every single one of these skills to navigate the complex levels contained in this game. I have now died so many times to the hands of enemies, traps, and simply falling off, the word has lost all meaning, and even though there are checkpoints in the game, you have a limited amount of lives before you get the dreaded "restart level" or "choose another level" screen, in which case all your skills and excitement mean nothing and, depending on your choice, you are cast back to the beginning of the entire level. Very frustrating, but if you’re like me you will refuse to get beaten and instantly retry. Just so you understand, Cloudbuilt's levels aren't a straight line to the finish. They twist and turn in all three dimensions, frequently double back on themselves and require that you have full spatial awareness of where you're going, where you've been and how well your using Demi's abilities. Just to add to your frustration, the game also isn't quite as simple as just finishing the level and moving onto the next, no, there is also a rating for your performance on each level: D, C, B and A. I have only managed to muster a measly D so far, in any level, but the option is there for me to go back and keep replaying it, finding shorter, quicker paths to improve my times and skills. If only there wasn't a three second time penalty for every time I died!

Visually, Cloudbuilt is a beautiful game, a sort of combination of 3D rendering and pencil sketching to create almost a comic book like feel to it. The futuristic qualities are brilliant if your a sci-fi geek like me but the different level designs are appealing to everyone and there is certainly a difference in tone, depending what path you are following through each level, which I have slowly noticed is closely linked to what is happening in the part of the story Demi has unlocked i.e there is a darker path, more enemies and a steelier vibe vs a lighter, nature filled sunlit path. Another great thing I noticed was that a lot of attention has been paid to the design of Demi, depending on what you are doing makes her respond in different ways, such as when your next to a platform ledge she sounds afraid, or scared when you reach the middle of your boost bar and I like the attention to detail such as this as you can feel a bit more connected to the character while you are playing. The way she narrates her own log entries adds a bit more to her character and you start to get an emotional feel to her journey.

Cloudbuilt is a game that's clearly been built for PC players. While there is controller support in the game, it's really built for the faster response times that mouse and keyboard controls afford. I can confirm without a doubt that a controller is no use here, none at all, as there were numerous occasions where you have to make split-second decisions and movements in order to successfully pass obstacles and enemies, and I tried it with the controller and failed miserably. I only had to die once cast it aside and return to the old keyboard and mouse.

All in all, this game is a pretty amazing piece of work: beautiful, challenging and engaging. You will start to feel for the character Demi and you will rage quit at points, oh yes, you WILL rage quite but overall its been a very enjoyable experience and bar a few minor glitches on my first play, a very smoothly running game. I would definitely recommend this to any gamers who love a bit of parkour/Megaman/Sonic-esque fun! Do not play this game if you have little or no patience, you have been warned (but get it anyway!)

Fraser Graham
42 Level One

Cloudbuilt is available on Steam now!
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Overall Score - 8/10