Review: Cloudbuilt

Speedrunners can turn almost any game into a viable candidate for racing. Games specifically attuned to that mindset, however, are few and far between. Cloudbuilt is a freerunning-style title that anyone can enjoy but might just turn players into new speedrunners in the process. If that’s something you’re at all interested in then listen up as Cloudbuilt might be just the game for you.

The game starts players off with a brief tutorial and a few easy beginning stages. Your character, aside from being incredibly speedy, has her own jetpack and blaster gun equipped at all times. Armed with these items you must platform across levels and hopefully make it through in good time. Platforms themselves practically float off as chunks of rock in space, making it easy to slip and fall. Initially, the difficult proves a bit much.

Much of this difficulty simply comes from how specific the control scheme is. Running, jumping, and boosting all make sense but then you have to figure in aspects like bounding between walls and wall running. In any other game, wall running would be a fairly simple endeavor. You’d likely just have to press and hold a button that would get you across a specific distance. Here, however, you can maneuver while on the wall in order to dodge enemies or grab orbs to recharge your boosting capacity. Of course, you’re tasked with keeping boosts in check lest the jetpack run out of steam too early.

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It might sound a bit complex and that’s because it is. With such precise control under the player’s command there is a lot of room for error. Yes, you’ll screw up a lot before finally starting to get ahold of how Cloudbuilt plays. This isn’t a bad thing by itself. There are many players out there who appreciate a challenge and it definitely provides one. Even after the controls begin to feel like second nature there will be stages that continue to push those skills to their limits.

Cloudbuilt provides an experience that is difficult to explain beyond a mechanical level. Obviously it’s not a simple platformer, but there’s more to it than that. It feels awesome when you first manage to pull off a cool trick. it’s exciting to discover alternate pathways through stages. That’s one thing this game does right and that is allowing for player creativity in a major way. If it seems at all possible to head in a strange different direction to bypass things – give it a shot! More often than not it will prove a totally viable path to victory.

The coolness factor is ratcheted up thanks to a stunning visual design. Everything in the game has a gorgeous cross-hatching style texture that makes it appear more like a sketchbook than a freerunning platformer. The look is undeniably unique and incredibly attractive. Musically, the game also lives up to its visual aesthetics with cool electronic-style music. Although there’s not a massive amount of voice acting, the included parts are nice as well.

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There are not a massive amount of stages to explore, but that doesn’t mean the game is a short experience either. Most of the fun comes from replayability, so if you enjoy that then you’ll be in heaven here. Stages can be completed in time-trial fashion by default, but they can also try out other methods of play instead. Whatever you choose to do there is always a leaderboard nearby showing that there’s always someone faster out there. Anyone willing to hone their skills however might find their names climbing up the leaderboard before long.

Although there is a lot to like about Cloudbuilt, there are still ways in which it feels unfinished. Mainly this seems due to the amount of crash bugs still present, as is readily noted by many players thus far. Personally, I suffered a handful of random-seeming crashes as well despite having a modern computer with updated drivers. There was also a stage or two with a strange amount of slowdown, despite not being very different from other levels. Finally, sometimes my character would stick to objects or perform in ways that seemed like a glitch rather than poor control on my part. Obviously, having your character perform in unpredictable ways is not what any speedrunner wants.

Unfortunately, there is no controller support available yet either. When the game was previewed, Coilworks said they were still sticking to keyboard and mouse control because that’s what the game was carefully designed for. They have since acquiesced and said it was coming, but it’s a shame support wasn’t ready for launch.

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Closing Comments:

There is so much to love about Cloudbuilt that it’s a shame it has a handful of issues that dampen the experience. Freerunning games are few and far between and it’s definitely one of the more exciting, skill-based platforming titles out there. The developer is showing continued effort to tune it up on a regular basis so perhaps soon enough we’ll see the current issues fixed. Until then, it’s recommended for the more hardcore set of gamers who don’t mind dealing with unexpected hiccups on occasion. When it works as intended, Cloudbuilt is simply an exhilarating ride.
score3.5
Platform: PC