Precision platforming just received a new challenger. It’s obvious from the beginning of Cloudbuilt that every wall, every platform has a use in one way or another. Each level possesses many influences from classics of precision platforming. As in Sonic, multiple routes are available to have you reach your goal destination. As with Mirror’s Edge, every possible parkour movement or ability you have will need to be used in order to progress and better yourself. And akin to Prince of Persia or Mega Man, this game is brutally hard at times. Cloudbuilt takes the best parts of many classics and rolls it up into one beautiful game.
You’re a young girl by the name of Demi, an injured veteran of war who is put into mental rehabilitation. The trials that players must complete are those of her imagination. They represent her working through various problems as she fights to stay in control of her mind. As players progress through the trials, pieces of the story are unlocked which reveal more about Demi and lead up to one of four different endings, all of which have a unique feel to them. The level design with each path follows a different theme which matches what Demi is going through in the story creating an even more engaging playthrough.
Cloudbuilt is fast, ruthless, and an absolute blast. It takes practice to master Demi’s parkour abilities in order to better yourself over time. There are no skills to unlock, no upgrades to purchase. You are given everything you have to work with from the start and you go from there. Aside from your simple wall-running and jumping off walls, Demi possesses a jet-pack-like booster which enables her to double-jump or even ascend up walls as she wall-runs. While this booster is limited by an energy bar, powerups are left throughout the levels to help with complex wall-to-wall navigation and more.
Composed of 17 levels, Cloudbuilt isn’t a game where you beat one trial and then move on. You will look at your first ten finishes with disgust and continue to improve yourself. Various special modes can be enabled for each level for when you finally got the normal version down. The special modes include everything from not having Demi’s weapon, using as little of your booster as possible, to any damage equals instant death. Each mode provides a ranking to which you can scowl at as you want to reach the top.
While the level design and game mechanics are obviously at the heart of Cloudbuilt, one of the first things that stood out to me and made me love it from the start was the soundtrack and art design. The unique cel-shaded art style alongside the wonderful retro-esque soundtrack fit the game in every way imaginable. Looking deeper into the sound design reveals that attention was paid to Demi during development. She sounds afraid when next to platform ledges, tired when she stops running, and scared when she is in the middle of using her booster and she expends all her energy. All this makes Demi seem much more like a person, even if this all takes place in her mind.
Cloudbuilt is made with the use of keyboard and mouse in mind. Coilworks has stated that controller support will be added for players sometime after the release. There were many times when I could just feel that the keyboard and mouse was perfect for a particular occasion, where a controller would have been much more difficult to complete such a task. While Cloudbuilt is only available on PC at the moment, I do wonder how it would fair on consoles as players wouldn’t have the option to use a mouse and keyboard.
Cloudbuilt is a fun game that always challenges you to improve yourself and yet it never gets boring. While this game is short but replayable with it’s various modes and leaderboards, it is unyielding in making you suffer towards the final levels. Cloudbuilt will have you dying again and again in order to just complete a level, let alone try and attain a high ranking finish time. If you are looking for a game that will challenge your hand-eye coordination like none have since the days of Mega Man while having a character that plays like a jet-strapped third-person Mirror’s Edge, you have found what you are searching for. Cloudbuilt is an excellent example of what precision platforming is all about and should not be missed by anyone wanting a truly challenging experience.
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