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Cloudbuilt Review

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Cloudbuilt demands perfection, yet the most interesting part of the game is that there is no perfect way to complete the levels. Make no mistake it’s hard, and most gamers today might shy away from Cloudbuilt because of its difficulty, but you would be missing one of 2014’s most refreshing indie games.

Developer Coilworks promises that the more you play the more quickly you’ll be able to see what needs to be done. As absurd as it may seem, Cloudbuilt reminds me of a skateboarding game in how it requires you at higher levels to see the line the developers laid out for you.

The potential for users to use twitch or other services to record and improve upon previous runs is exciting, but mostly left me dreaming of all the speed runs since there is no right way to go anywhere in the game. It is an exceedingly impressive first game by the new company.

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Right off the bat my biggest issue with Cloudbuilt is its lack of gamepad support. Having recently played a game on a gamepad, all I could think was that this definitely seemed like a game that could feel at home on a couple of analog sticks and would have improved my enjoyment with the game.

The controls can feel frustrating at first but once you get acclimated it’s not much of a detractor. Additionally if Cloudbuilt were to get ported to PS4 and Xbox One I think it would be a spectacular fit. In your arsenal of maneuverability is a jump, rocket boot jump, and wall running parkour. Using a creative combination of these the player can pull off incredible maneuvers seemingly above their skill level.

When you finally pull off a run after you’ve died three or four times on Cloudbuilt rewards you with an immense feeling of accomplishment. On top of all the maneuvering you’ll also have to contend with shooting traps and devices that will halt your progression. You have the option to stop and shoot carefully down your iron sights, or if you feel like a show off you can shoot as you parkour around the level.

While there is no multiplayer per se, you can always race against friend’s ghost and challenge their records at your whim. I personally did not have any friends who also owned the game (Boo on them!) so I was unable to test this feature in my time.

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Get used to doing three things at once.

One of Cloudbuilt’s features that may get overlooked is the fact that from the start you can lock the frame rate to suit your rig. By default the game wants you to blow through at 120 FPS but I found my time slightly more enjoyable at a 60 FPS lock. If you have a high end PC though, 120 should be nothing. You also have the ability to alter draw distance as well as effects and light draw distance.

These small additions to the graphical options should really open Cloudbuilt up to people with PCs from any walk of life. I wouldn’t promise that your tablet can run it, but most PC’s should be able to find a balance to suit their needs and keep up with the fast paced gameplay. The graphics are well done and compliment the fast paced gameplay nicely. It’s not quite a cell shaded look, nor is it totally a comic book look.

It almost appears as if an artist sketched the levels just before you arrived there. In a very mirror’s edge way it uses minimalism to show you the path but doesn’t disparage you from experimenting and exploring as it’s always easy enough to find your way back. It comes off looking like something that would feel comfortable in the Borderlands world and is an aesthetic accomplishment.

Staying on the topic of accomplishments, the soundtrack to Cloudbuilt is a delightful mash-up of tribal drum beats, rock riffs from an electric guitar, and then mixed all in with chip tune compliments. It’s a compliment to the composer that not one of the strong musical elements takes over your attention completely.

If you were to throw an orchestral arrangement in I wouldn’t see why this soundtrack couldn’t feel at home in the next Halo game or a sci-fi epic. It was delightfully old school and progressive at the same time. The in-level music lent an excellent ambiance to the seemingly empty, negative space of the levels.

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Multiple ways to get there. Multiple ways to die.

It’s hard not to recommend Cloudbuilt between it’s innovative take on a third-person action adventure platforming game and it’s easy price tag. It’s also very easy to see that this is Coilworks first game as it lacks a layer of polish, but it’s a valiant effort and I am personally excited to see what they do next.

While most won’t find much replay value once they beat the game those who come to master Cloudbuilt will certainly keep the community alive through ghosts and challenges.

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Daniel Pisko

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