Cloudbuilt
Gameplay 7
Graphics 8
Sound 7

Cloudbuilt is one of those games that will cause you to rage quit quite a few times until you wrap your head around the mechanics. Traversing the levels takes a lot of skill and the game doesn’t hold your hand. Check-points are sparse and enemies are fierce so make sure you are up to the challenge before taking on this game. The beautiful art style and catchy soundtrack are highlights but the controls take time to master.

Gameplay: Very fast and very challenging.

Graphics: Beautiful cel-shaded visuals with a unique cross-hatch effect.

Sound: A great soundtrack that matches the frantic pace of the game

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Cloudbuilt

Developer: Coilworks | Publisher: Rising Star Games | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

The lead character of Cloudbuilt, Demi, finds herself recovering in hospital after being seriously injured during combat. As her body attempts to cope with the electronics used for her rehabilitation, Demi’s mind begins to wander. Her imagination takes her to a world above the clouds where she must traverse trap filled platforms and dodge enemies standing between her and the exit.

Each time you finish a level in Cloudbuilt you return to the hospital room where Demi is lying comatose in her bed while her mind tries to make sense of what is happening. It is a pretty unique attempt at storytelling and a convenient method for offering something a little deeper without interfering directly with the gameplay.

Speaking of gameplay, Cloudbuilt is probably one of the most challenging games that I have experienced in recent years. The game is built around the concept of speedrunning, so your goal is to make your way through each level is quickly as possible. Of course, with bottomless chasms, relentless enemies and all kinds of traps this is easier said than done. Each failure places you back at the nearest checkpoint, which is pretty scarce or even worse, requires you to restart the level if you run out of lives. Yes you read right, this game brings back the concept of lives which ups the challenge even more.

To ease the frustration, restarting is instantaneous and the game has different paths, which lead to one of four endings, so if you are really stuck on a level there is always another one to try. Levels also have different paths, so some routes are faster than others at the cost of being much more difficult. Demi is a very nimble character, so controlling her takes some practice due to her range of skills. All of her abilities are unlocked right from the start, which can be pretty daunting at first. Besides jumping and double-jumping, Demi can run along or up walls thanks to her jet pack, but due to limited boost you really have to time things carefully. She also has a gun that fires homing bullets and charged shots, but most of the enemies put up shields which make it pretty ineffectual.

Cloudbuilt is definitely not a game that you play to relax. To really get anywhere near the kind of par times the game has, let alone the leaderboards you are going to have to replay levels countless times and study the layouts. Even just reaching the exit door on each level is quite a feat, although it has to be said that it does feel satisfying to finally overcome the challenge. You are ranked at the end of each level, based on your time and amount of deaths, but personally I had to be satisfied with a C ranking on almost every level.

What I really love about the game is the visuals. Everything is cel-shaded, but with a unique cross hatching technique that makes the game look like it was hand drawn. The effect looks great and combines well with the abundance of colors used. The different paths you can take also seem to represent Demi’s state of mind, so some levels are darker and more oppressive than others. The audio is also great with some very nice tunes that I found myself humming long after playing the game. It would have been nice if there were a few more tracks, but what is on offer is great.

Due to the speed and precision required for Cloudbuilt it is best played with a keyboard and mouse. I did try playing with a controller, but it just didn’t’ feel as responsive as I would have liked. While playing you have to make constant adjustments to the direction of your character, which makes it extremely tricky. Taste and personal preferences obviously differ so other players may prefer to take on the challenge using a controller.

Cloudbuilt is undeniably addictive, but it is definitely not going to appeal to everyone. Some levels feel downright sadistic in their design and the hard to kill enemies just add to the frustration. With enough practice you’ll be able to zip around levels, but to reach that level of skill takes a lot of time. It is a very rewarding game, but despite the speed some patience is required.

There are not a lot of games that cater to players who love speedrunning so Cloudbuilt definitely fills a niche. It really is a pity that there is no demo available as players expecting a straightforward platform game might be disappointed. The developers are committed to the game and there are some interesting things on the wish list of features that they want to add so keep an eye on Cloudbuilt.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: 2GHz Intel Dual Core processor
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512 MB OpenGL 3.2 compatible card
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Any compatible soundcard
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 (or better)
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia Geforce 560 Ti (or ATI equivalent)
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
  • Sound Card: Any compatible soundcard

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