PAX West 2017: Cloudbase Prime Capitalizes on its Oddness

Admittedly, Cloudbase Prime isn’t much to look at. Rife with basic polygonal graphics and a dearth of textures, it has the appearance of a title that clatters around the bottom of the barrel. Putting that aside, though, reveals that this product of a one man studio, Floating Island Games, is loaded with inventive mechanics and a unique approach to first-person action and platforming. Especially the platforming.

It takes a bit of acclimation at the beginning. The world is divided up into small hexagonal grids that can be raised and lowered at the tap of a button. Should the player raise a grid while standing on it, they will be bounced into the air with gusto. Combining this with a glide function allows for traveling to distant floating islands. There’s also bounce pads. Combining the two abilities is, well, a bit nuts.

The raising and lowering of the platforms also factors into the combat. The protagonist has numerous abilities, such as bombs, freeze rays, and throwing a rippling earthquake. These require fuel, which can be earned from the enemies that pepper the world. To earn it, the player must knock the foe into the air using the land raising ability to prime them. After they have been primed, defeating them will harvest the fuel.

This all sounds very confusing at first, and it was for me when I tried it at PAX. After a bit of time, though, it became natural. It’s a good thing, too, as the game opens up into some smart challenges and puzzles as it goes on. Using the environmental shift ability, I needed to create a roller coaster that would fling energy balls at a shield, breaking it down, climb a tall tree whose branches were sparse enough to require planning before jumping, and fight off hordes of robotic foes that really, really didn’t like me. Eventually, new items, like a grappling hook, get added to the game, helping to keep the proceedings fresh and interesting. Even the initially off putting graphics come together with style with subsequent levels.

I didn’t play the entirety of Cloudbase Prime during my demo, so this cannot be considered any sort of official review. I did, however, see enough of the game to state that it’s worth checking out for fans of experimental gaming, as well as those looking for a good mixture of action, puzzle and platforming. It’s ten bucks on Steam, works great with a mouse and keyboard or a controller, and the creator, Tyrus Peace, is a patient and enthusiastic fellow that deserves some support. While he was trying to show me the game, a rather strange individual interrupted him to offer voice acting “skills.” It was painful and I was cringing. Tyrus was good natured and sent the chap along with a smile instead of advising the person to, please, never do that in public again. It just goes to show that he loves games and gamers in all of their weirdness. Cloudbase Prime’s offbeat design proves it.