Arcades might be dead, but skill-based gaming sure isn’t. There is no greater thrill in life than rising up to the challenge of our rivals, crushing every last course, time, and obstacle that stands in our way. Coilworks’ and Rising Star Games’ Cloudbuilt demands such perfection, but is it worth the time and energy to get good?
Cloudbuilt’s unique style of gameplay is essentially a greatest hits album of time-tested gaming elements. The parkour-based movement of Mirror’s Edge is an obvious inspiration, with wall-climbing, ledge grabbing, and triangle jumps aplenty. However, the main character Demi also aped Sonic’s need for speed, Mega Man’s mega buster, and even Jet Set Radio’s ebb and flow.
A game with this many ingredients might come off as overly complex, but Cloudbuilt decides to keep things simple. The ultimate goal is to get to the end of the level with the lowest time and the highest ranking. There is a cryptic, wafer-thin plot that pops up in-between levels, but you could skip every monologue and still know what’s going on.
Rather, Cloudbuilt is all about the action. You literally start the game running, and you don’t stop until you reach the end. Levels consist of a series of platforms across a bottomless pit, connected only by a string of powerups, enemies, and checkpoints. Despite its minimalistic settings, Cloudbuilt’s bright cel-shaded graphics help its world stand out.
The scenescapes of Cloudbuilt require the aforementioned parkour-based movement, but an emphasis on speed makes things interesting. A jetpack allows for air-dashing, extended wall-runs, and other unique moves. Not only does this help things move at a faster clip, it also offers more freedom in your movement. Rather than following a set path among red pipes and objects, you can find your own way through a higher path, through mid-air boosts, or even behind the course. It encourages experimentation, making you truly appreciate each level.
Cloudbuilt’s keyboard and mouse controls are responsive, and deaths are nobody’s fault but your own. But console aficionados be warned: Cloudbuilt’s steep difficulty curve gets even steeper for those rocking a controller. However, Coilworks stated that gamepad support is planned for the future.
It’s just a shame that for a game that for a game that offers so much variety, everything gets “samey” after a while. All powers are available from the get-go, and its lack of bosses makes the selection of levels feel more like a gauntlet. The game does provide hours of solid gameplay as it is, but a custom stage creator or a chance to go more on the offensive with a giant baddie would have made things even better. Put simply, this game is just begging to be modded.
Despite cribbing notes from a number of gaming vets, Cloudbuilt manages to be its own beast. Its debut effort is a love letter to fans of all things stylish, those of us who live for perfect ranks, achievements, and the top of the leaderboards.