Cloudbuilt originally launched on the PC back in 2014, and never having played the original, I was especially excited to see what all the fuss was about regarding the remastered ‘Super Cloudbuilt’. Not only does the game finally arrive on console, but it brings with it all of the updates and DLC too, meaning you’re getting the full package. Being a fan of parkour games, I was surprised to have not even heard of this game before now, I mean really, this experience is captivating, unique, and thoroughly immersive. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly up there with the most interesting of games that’s been released in recent times, and believe me when I say, if you (like me) fancy yourself a veteran gamer, Super Cloudbuilt will give you one hell of a wake-up call.
You take on the roll of a soldier known as Demi, a woman that’s currently incapacitated and laying in a hospital bed following devastating injuries from war. So if she’s laying in a bed, how the hell can you play as her? Great question, I’m glad you asked! You see, Super Cloudbuilt allows you to play as Demi’s subconscious, where each level you complete will not only shed light on how Demi is feeling, but it addresses the challenges that Demi’s mind if faced with. Furthermore, each completed level also allows you to journey further around the hospital, giving you a double layered sense of discovery to chase after. I’ll admit the story is suggestively deep, and without giving too much away, I wasn’t at all displeased with the plot by the time I reached the end game. I do think this is a story that will only appeal to a specific crowd, whereas others will simply want to get to the nitty gritty of wall running to their hearts content. If however you allow the game and the story to immerse you, you’re in for a touching treat.
Super Cloudbuilt is all about quick thinking and quick reflex. There’s absolutely zero compromise on this front, so if you’re not up for a journey that’s very much skill and speed based, this may not be the game for you. With your trusty blaster powered exosuit and multi-use pistol, you’ll be tasked with running, jumping, wall-running, double-jumping, and blasting your way through the experience. In fact you’ll be using most of those functions all at the same time as you work through each maze like stage. That may sound challenging and harsh, and that’s because it is, but once you master the intricate adventure, the sense of reward each time you nuke a stage is second to none.
Each of the thirty plus stages give you a starting point and an end point, with a heap of different routes and means to get to the end. The game does well at giving you the basics of play to begin with, slowly throwing new functions at you just as you begin to master the last, and once you have firm understanding of how everything works, you’re on your own. It’s very tricky at first, and I lost count of how many times I would gradually slip down a wall as my momentum (meter) depleted, or failed to accurately nail a jump, but if there’s one thing that this game has taught me, it’s that perseverance is imperative.
The aforementioned meter is one that constantly recharges, which comes in especially handy when you’re wall-running. Your exosuit comes with a boost ability that will enable you to thrust yourself to new heights just before your momentum is spent up, ensuring that you can scale even the lengthiest of walls, should you have the skill to pull it off. This is just one side of the mechanics within, and once you get a few levels through the game, you’ll be forced to utilise and switch between functions in rapid succession.
Wall-running and then jumping to a higher platform, instantly jumping from said platform and blasting some foes as you slide down a steep slope, rounded off by a band of jumping puzzles that would put Faith Connors on edge. This is just one of the countless exhilarating moments that you’re subject to in Super Cloudbuilt, and it gets way more complex than that. Thankfully, for a game that’s going to see you die a lot, the checkpoint system is more than generous. It’s a good job really because this could easily have been a breaking point for the game, instead you’re treated to an instant respawn that’s never too far from your last failed attempt.
The game houses an interesting visual switching system, which allows you to filter how the game looks. You can access the different renders from the options menu, and in the blink of an eye, you can change the visuals for Super Cloudbuilt from a cartoon sketch effect, to a black and white design, and more. Some renders are clearly better than others, but this unique feature is undeniably a lot of fun to toy around with. It has to be said that no matter what design you gravitate towards, the game looks gorgeous and well detailed nevertheless.
You can earn extra life slots by completing levels, rewards for successfully executing challenges, and health boosts as well as new weaponry. None of these additions will prove particularly useful if you haven’t bonded with the gameplay by the time you reach the ability to earn them, because even when you feel comfortable with Super Cloudbuilt, the game has a tendency of throwing you a curve-ball when you least expect it. I think one issue with this game for some people will be exactly that, it can be overly taxing and somewhat frustrating at certain points throughout. You need the patience and forgiveness of a saint if you want to get out the other end with your controller intact and your hair in place.
With that in mind, once you begin to unlock the helpful perks and revisit earlier levels, it’s utterly amazing to see how far you’ve evolved since the start of the game. I recall dying no end of times on the first few levels alone, but when I went back some time later, I felt like a pro. You can even unlock new outfits for Demi, which adds yet another layer of replay value to an already lengthy game. To top it all off, two added game modes have been thrown in for good measure. You have Ranked Mode, which sees you competing for the best time on the leaderboards. Then you have Rush Mode, which pitches you against several challenges that will push you to your absolute limit. There’s no question about it, Super Cloudbuilt brings the content and the innovation, but it’s down to you to bring your A-game.
Super Cloudbuilt is a game that will test your patience and skills to the limit. However it does so in such a way that even making it through a single level feels massively rewarding and defining. The excessive difficulty may well chase away those that are less forgiving, but if you come into this experience with a decent capacity for endurance, you’ll come out the other end with a great sense of achievement. Sadly the voice acting is quite poor, but not so much that it will derail what the game delivers. The visuals and the ability to alter them may well indeed just be a gimmick, but it’s brilliantly implemented and fun to toy around. The game houses some magnificent mechanics that (once mastered) fluidly feed each other extraordinarily well as you make your way through the multi-tiered environments within. Super Cloudbuilt comes in at a decent price when you take the amount of content and replay value you’re getting in return, making this a more than worthy investment.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.