It’s Cloudbuilt but like…Super. The FingerGuns review;
Have we seen enough wall jumping in games? It’s become a mechanic which first person shooters have abused to high heaven in recent years. Now, granted, Titanfall 2 and the more recent Call of Duty titles are all solid games, but there comes a time when it starts to bleed over into other genres and becomes a trope which is tired, and an easy mechanic developers can rustle in to save creating any other obvious way to navigate their worlds. Then there’s Cloudbuilt, a game released in 2014 which was near enough built around this mechanic, and yet became a bit of a cult hit, as it was near enough the first of its kind to do so. With the release of Super Cloudbuilt on PS4 (which includes all updates and DLC), can it still hold up in a genre which has seen its prime directive used to death in the AAA space?
Well, yes. Super Cloudbuilt is a cracking good time.
It’s a cracking good time primarily because of the story, which I wasn’t expecting to have so much emotional weight. You play as Demi, a soldier who has picked up major injuries in a war, and as such lays unconscious and bedridden. You control her subconscious, imagining just what could be waiting for her outside of the hospital walls. It’s a powerful story, and from the trailers and screenshots I saw of this came this definitely caught me off guard. Demi becomes quite the companion throughout, with a backstory that’s marred in tragedy and trauma, you begin to feel for her and, in an Edith Finch kind of way, want to see her succeed and naturally it’s up to you to ensure this happens. She has a monologue which runs throughout scenes between the levels, as you return to the hospital, navigating her subconscious through doors which are built around a fear or a memory of Demi’s. There are moments where you’ll find yourself scratching your head wondering if what you’re doing is actually going to benefit Demi in the long run, but you continue to persevere in the hope that you’ll see her awake from her slumber. If you’re emotionally invested, you’ll get far more out of Super Cloudbuilt than you expected.
How does it play? It plays very well, Demi moves quicker than you expect at first, but she’s easy enough to control over the 30 odd levels that you’ll be traversing. You have a jump and a double jump which come in especially handy as you navigate around, and there are several ways you can get to the end of each level. The basics are your jump and double jump (with the aid of a jetpack) and then the wall run. Combining these three together will see you tearing it around each level pretty easily. You’ll also get yourself a boost which can radically change your patterns in play. With it you can scale walls brilliantly quickly, which will ensure Demi gets as high as possible as quick as possible. This is on a meter so it can run out, it’s important to use it sparingly and where you know you’re going to be able to recover if you haven’t quite timed it correctly, lest you fall into the endless abyss below. It will also allow you to tear it across a wall during a wall run, which again needs to be timed to perfection though with the addition of the double jump you should be able to get yourself out of a jam with little issue.
If you can tear it through a level with little mistakes it feels like a monumental accomplishment, and gives you the feeling that you’re using Demi to her full potential, and not letting her down by just generally being shit at the game. It happened to me a few times, though after I’d jump back in and replay levels over I had it down to a finely tuned science. And for me to be good at a game this technical, my friends, is an achievement in itself.
You’ll come across a variety of enemies as you traverse through the levels, namely robots and turrets which aren’t too difficult to dispose of (you’re packing a rather beefy weapon that makes little work of them), though they have almost pin point aim so you’re going to want to take care of them quickly. If you do succumb to the onslaught you respawn almost immediately, and should you find yourself in a jam you’re able to set your own checkpoints if you want to avoid a particular section again. It’s handy to have after tricky areas so you don’t throw your controller through the screen. You’re going to want to be choosy about where you place the checkpoints though, as each level ends you’re ranked on your completion time, collectibles and death count, so if you’re a speedrunner or a completionist, you’re going to want to play through these levels several times to ensure you don’t miss a beat.
Outside of the campaign you have the aforementioned ranked mode which can see you challenge on leaderboards along with rush mode, which gets you running challenges across a bunch of different levels. The 32 stage marathon is one I’m not even close to completing yet, I’ve no doubt you’ll get that done sooner than I ever will.
What could be what has drawn your attention to the game however is the visuals and make no mistake, this game looks fantastic. The cel-shaded aesthetic has absolutely never looked better, with each level looking like it’s been created using pencil and coloured in. A unique aspect of this style is how you can customise it to suit your own tastes, including turning the game black and white. It’s glorious.
Super Cloudbuilt is a game that I was expecting to be fun, but I absolutely didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have. It’s tough as balls and frenetic, fun and full of life. The narrative running throughout is unexpectedly challenging and rewarding and visually, is about as wonderful as cel-shading has ever been. It is frustrating in places, and the camera at times can work against you quite drastically and at only five hours long, you may feel like it should all go on just for a little bit longer, but the replayability aspect is overwhelming as you can complete a level and be absolutely certain you’ll be able to better your score if you just teared it across that wall a little fast and got your landing correct. You will die in stupid ways but you learn from it almost immediately, and the game will pick you back up to get you going again.
Don’t miss it.
Super Cloudbuilt is available on July 25th on PS4 (reviewed), July 28th on Xbox One.
Publisher: Double Eleven
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher.
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