When I first got my hands on Cloudbuilt, I was instantly entranced by the title, as it’s quite a brilliant combination of old school difficulty, fresh new mechanics, and a totally awesome art style. The game is being developed by Coilworks, and is being published by Rising Star Games for the PC, via Steam. The game is roughly 80% percent done, however I was totally floored by how fantastic the game plays.
The visuals in the game are simply a sight to behold – you absolutely have to see this game in motion. Not only is the framerate totally rock solid, but the environments, colors, and textures all evoke a very unique style. The only way I can describe the style of this game is a combination of excellent, stylized 3D environments that are inspired from old school games like Mega Man. The protagonist even reminds me of Mega Man in a way with her robotic suit and gun cannon that she fires from her arm.
While the environments may seem bare-bones at first, they’re chock full of options. Level progression is not really laid out in a way that seems totally obvious at first – your goal is to simply reach the end of each level by any means necessary. There are a myriad of different platforms and obstacles, some may be vertical walls that can be boosted against, others may be horizontal walls that you’ll have to wall run across.
The environments are all these dizzying sky-scraper like constructions that are floating in mid-air. There were several situations where I saw so many options on how to progress, I was frequently torn on where I would blast through next. This is one of the things I really like about Cloudbuilt – while the environments can give you vertigo, figuring out how to climb higher is both a puzzle and yet a challenge.
Let’s talk about gameplay mechanics. You have the ability to shoot, jump, dash, boost, climb ledges, and wall run. Sometimes you’ll have to do all of those things in very quick succession to simply get through a particularly difficult section of a level, but managing to progress through these kinds of scenarios is always a great feeling. There were several moments where I totally did not think I could make it to a certain platform, and yet I managed to scrape by the skin of my teeth.
One of the highlights of all of the platforming that you can do in Cloudbuilt is most definitely the boosting while wall-running. This sounds totally insane, but it’s totally awesome and quite the rush once you’ve started to get the hang of it. Once you start to blast through these sections, the developers throw more obstacles your way in the form of gaps, enemies, spikes, and jumping to walls on the opposite side.
Another aesthetic that really shined for me in Cloudbuilt alongside the visuals was the music. I can only describe it as a combination of ethereal soundscapes, retro chiptunes, and a pumping mix of electronica that sometimes includes all the aforementioned styles. It really is a wonderful soundtrack, and I was definitely pulled that much more into the experience by having it blissfully pounding into my ears.
Energy management is key to surviving and progressing in Cloudbuilt, as you have a limited amount of times you can unleash powerful bursts of speed, boost after jumping, or boost while wall-running. The levels are littered with small containers of energy that will replenish your depleted energy bar, but this doesn’t mean you can get careless and go all willy nilly, boosting to your hearts content. Planning how you boost through sections is paramount to your survival in Cloudbuilt.
I was told by the guys at Coilworks to not focus too much on the timer at first, a piece of advice I wish I listened to sooner. The game is hard, and I’m talking old-school hard in the sense that it doesn’t really hold your hand after you complete the tutorial. To some people this is a blessing, to others it’s an easy route to smashing your keyboard into pieces. I haven’t played a game quite this invigorating and yet challenging in quite some time, so needless to say – I started focusing on getting better times on my runs through levels.
That’s the beauty of Cloudbuilt, the fact that it’s not just a platformer and a third person action game, it’s also an opportunity to push yourself beyond what you normally thought you’d be capable of within a game. The checkpoints are not as frequent as some people will probably want, but that just made me strive to learn the layout of levels that much quicker. Despite my not getting a high score initially, I was motivated to retry the levels I had completed to see how I could best my previous attempts. After you finish a level, you get a score that breaks down how well you did – so you can focus on doing better next time.
While I haven’t played through the entire game, I’m totally blown away by how incredibly deep and yet accessible Cloudbuilt is. The entire game oozes polish and well planned features, the most intriguing part of its development is easily that the team at Coilworks is a smaller development studio. Still, the game has a vibrant, exhilarating and yet tranquil world that you’ll be blasting through as quickly as possible. In a way, I kind of feel sad that such beautiful environments may be ignored by some.
I absolutely love Cloudbuilt already, and the only thing I’d change about this game is actually an addition in the form of controller support. I prefer having analog sticks, especially with this type of fast paced, adrenaline filled experience, and I have hope that Coilworks will probably include this in the future. Coming from this, I am totally stoked to see what the final form of Cloudbuilt is going to look like, as I’m absolutely on board and completely a fan already. Cloudbuilt is a game that you should have your eye on, if any of my ramblings caught your attention.