Cloud Cutter
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Cloud Cutter is a straightforward shoot ’em up that updates the classic formula with impressive modern visuals. The game features 13 intense levels that can be played alone or with a friend as you blast land, sea, and air-based enemies to bits. It doesn’t attempt to innovate or subvert the genre in any way but does a great job of bringing classic arcade shoot ’em up action to modern audiences.

Gameplay: Destroy everything in sight while trying to stay alive.

Graphics: Great visuals courtesy of Unreal Engine 4.

Sound: A great soundtrack with good sound effects

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Cloud Cutter

Developer: Just Two ltd. | Publisher: Just Two ltd. | Release Date: 2021 | Genre: Action / Shooter / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Most arcade fans have fond memories of taking on opponents in the many fighting games that ruled the roost, but it was also an era when the shoot ’em up genre thrived. These games were not just thrilling to play on your own but were even better when a friend joined in on the fun. During the 16-bit era, the consoles were home to a few great ports of shoot ’em up games and original IPs, but things changed when 3D graphics became the norm. Thankfully, every time we think the genre is entirely dead, something like Cloud Cutter pops up and reminds us how great shoot ’em ups can be when done right.

Cloud Cutter is the work of a very small team who wanted to make a 3D take on classics like Raiden, Aero Fighter, Raptor, and other greats. It is a vertical scrolling shooter that runs on Unreal Engine 4, so right off the bat, the game looks spectacular. Cloud Cutter doesn’t waste any time on convoluted stories or elaborate cut-scenes either. It simply presents players with 13 levels that players can tackle alone or with a friend. Levels are playable on Normal, Medium, or Hard difficulty, but players must complete the previous one first to unlock the next level. The default difficulty is perfect for newcomers to the genre, but veterans will want to bump things up to Medium or Hard to test their skills. Completing a level is enough to unlock the next one, but players can also aim for the extra challenges that range from destroying all the enemies to never getting hit or not using a special weapon. The inclusion of Steam Achievements and leaderboards also bumps up the replay value of Cloud Cutter.

Unreal Engine 4 is capable of some nice visual effects and is put to good use in Cloud Cutter. The action is viewed from the traditional top-down perspective, but there are a couple of instances where the view briefly switches to a chase perspective for specific sections. The 13 levels in the game feature varied locations that range from the ocean to lush jungles, snowcapped landscapes, and more. Players will have to battle their way over factories, oil rigs, dams, refineries, and other scenes as they race to stop a nuclear missile from launching.

While the game uses a fixed perspective, all the models in the game are 3D, which allows for plenty of detail. Not only is each level packed with both aerial and ground targets, but trees will sway as surface-to-air missiles with long smoke trails fly across the landscapes. Sometimes the level of detail can almost be distracting, but fortunately, the bullets and other projectiles are very visible. In addition to selecting the resolution, there are multiple quality settings for graphical options like post-processing, shadows, textures, antialiasing, effects, and foliage. It’s even possible to hide the HUD entirely, but this obviously makes the game a bit more challenging.

Like any good shoot ’em up, Cloud Cutter features very satisfying explosions and a couple of big bosses. Each level has a boss fight at the end, but five levels focus exclusively on big bosses that stand out. These bosses are pretty impressive, and players have to dish out a lot of damage before they go down. If we have one minor quibble, the game has opted for a realistic style for enemies and bosses. This means that you’ll mostly be fighting things like massive hovercraft, planes, and aircraft carriers instead of any outlandish sci-fi enemies. More bosses like the final boss would have been nice, but this is mostly a matter of personal taste.

Music plays an essential role in any shoot ’em up, and Cloud Cutter doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The tunes in the game are great for getting the adrenaline pumping without becoming annoying or intrusive. The sound effects are also very decent and make the action feel more intense. In addition, players can adjust the sound and music volume independently to their liking.

We played the game using a controller, but you can also play it with a keyboard. We found the controls to be very responsive, and since your plane auto fires all the time, there’s no need to hold down a button constantly. Players must still weave through the enemy bullets and activate the secondary fire as well as special attacks, so there’s more than enough to keep you busy. The weapon you start with is feeble but progressively becomes more potent as you collect power-ups while playing. There is no shop or upgrading between levels, so players need to focus on grabbing the power-ups when they can during play. Cloud Cutter provides each player with a health bar but no extra lives, so if it is depleted, the game is over, and you need to restart the level from scratch. Some of the enemies can take large chunks out of your health bar, especially on the harder difficulties, but levels are short enough that having to restart is not too annoying. Trying to build up kill streaks to rack up extra points is also very addictive.

Apart from the occasional brief section where you might have to avoid searchlights or dodge obstacles from a chase perspective, Cloud Cutter is a very straightforward shooter. This might disappoint players looking for something with a twist, like Ikaruga, but it also means that the game is easy to pick up and play, even for newcomers to the genre. We really enjoyed our time with Cloud Cutter, even if it felt like the 13 levels flew by way too fast. It is definitely a title that we will return to again as there is plenty of challenges and achievements that require multiple playthroughs. If you have fond memories of playing vertical scrolling shooters in the arcade or home consoles but want to experience something modern instead of retro, then Cloud Cutter will scratch that itch. It looks great, sounds good, and is a lot of fun to play, so if you are a fan of the genre, don’t miss out.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K or similar
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA 660 Ti or similar
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 7 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-7400 or better
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA 1060 GTX or better
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 7 GB available space

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1 Comment

  1. Salvanious May 14, 2021
    Reply

    Saw the video that you guys did on this as well and really like the look of it. Lots of this types of games appear very static and artificial and i like how “alive” this one feels because of those backgrounds

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