Cloudbuilt, a game about parkour free-running above the clouds, aims to be the next big speed running game for the PC market. While it has some stand out mechanics, it’s the odd choices that keep it from being the next big thing.
Cloudbuilt starts off by lying to the player (not the best thing to do) by having the tutorial take place in a peaceful and beautifully created run down city where the main character Demi is free to get to the goal from a multitude of routes. This sets up the game to be a calming and puzzling adventure unlike anything else. But that level is over, the game changes for the worst. The beautifully sculptured world is replaced with grey platforms in the sky, and the calming atmospheric music is ignored for fast paced action beats. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the jarring tonal shift made a game that could have been something unique and moving turn into another action game.
While the world design does leave something to be desired, its architecture is rather impressive. The levels, as simplistic as they are, have a flow to them that allows the player to combo off most of the environment around them. The player can use their jetpack to help boost their jumps and wall runs a little more to help increase the movement and rhythmic flow, making levels feel like short tests of reflex and understanding of mechanics. This is how the game is for the first few levels, and it’s a lot of fun! But then it decides to step further away from being unique by adding a gun and robots to shoot, and it was here where the game lost its fun factor and became a chore.
The game hands the player a gun a couple of levels in and scatters robot enemies across the levels for the player to shoot. While the idea of parkour and shooting sounds good in concept, the execution is what lets the game down. The robots are nothing more than cannon fodder that slow down the pace of the game considerably. The bots will sometimes put up shields around them meaning you can’t shoot them, but they also can’t shoot you, creating an awkward showdown where the player stands waiting for a while as the robot stays motionless, and since the robots guard pathways and doors, the player can’t progress through the level. It feels like a lazy attempt to prolong gameplay that’s all about playing in short bursts, and it makes the game feel unfinished.
When looking at it from a distance, Cloudbuilt is a fun reflex heavy speed run game built for high replayability fuelled by the need to be the best on the leaderboard. But its inability to decide on a tone and awkwardly implemented gunplay makes the game feel like a failed experiment. Hardcore action platformer fans may find some fun out of it, but Cloudbuilt is no Megaman.