Super Cloudbuilt Review – Challenging Speed Runs (PS4)
The original Cloudbuilt was released exclusively on PC three years ago. Its main draw was fast-paced platforming, which took players through floating levels in an alternate reality. Now it’s been remastered, complete with a “Super” subtitle as if it were the 90s, and PlayStation 4 owners finally get the chance to play. Does it end up living up to the hype?
In Super Cloudbuilt, you play as Demi, a young woman who has been critically injured during a massive battle. She now finds herself in some sort of rehabilitation world, which is apparently part of a new initiative to bring soldiers back from the brink of death enhanced as never before. The player is taught not to take things at face value, as it’s hinted that all of this grandeur could simply be a delusion. Sadly, few concrete details on the story are given, and the four endings end up giving little in terms of closure. The game’s focus is clearly on level design, and it’s a shame more of the story wasn’t elaborated upon during the time between levels.
It should be noted that Super Cloudbuilt is not an easy game. Not only is Demi a fast runner, her rocket exosuit also boosts her speed to near-absurd levels. The sense of speed offered up in this game is reminiscent of classic Sonic the Hedgehog games, but perhaps a more accurate comparison would be to Vanquish (just substitute the bullet hell for some platforming). This is one game that requires your reflexes to always be lightning-fast. Even platforms that are nearby are never guaranteed to be easy to get to.
There are a few mechanics to help alleviate some of Cloudbuilt‘s tough demands. While your lives are limited, each level that you clear increases the total number of lives you have before you need to regroup and try again. Each level also contains four lettered keycards, which if collected on a single run will also unlock an extra life for your cumulative total. Basically, clearing levels and completing challenges grant you a higher life cap, which means that you’ll have more chances to try a level before it’s game over. There are also checkpoints strewn about each level, but they tend to be relatively rare. You can pick up deployable checkpoints, and by pressing the square button, one can be placed wherever you are standing. This can become a crucial strategy as you determine when is the best time to make your own checkpoint in order to not have to repeat a particularly challenging section of a level.
Open up, Down, and All Around
One of the unique aspects to Super Cloudbuilt is its non-linear design. This applies to both the levels and the overworld. Levels tend to be large, elaborate areas floating atop an endless void. There are usually dozens of platforms to reach, and floating walls to help guide you in the right direction. The path you choose will vary even in repeat playthroughs, because there are usually hundreds of potential paths in each level. Super Cloudbuilt includes leaderboards for each level, as well. There are two leaderboards per level, one global across all players, and another which is platform-specific (PlayStation 4, in this case).
This open-ended design, as mentioned, also extends to the overworld. In between levels, you are free to move around a hospital-like environment, where you can see your own body, stricken with massive injuries. Here, you are able to complete levels in any order. As you clear levels, additional areas of the facility reveal themselves. The “world” is divided into four different wings, which feature levels with a certain environmental theme. You’ll see plenty of varied set pieces, from plant-centric, green-shaded organic levels, to black-and-red hellish landscapes. If you manage to complete all levels for a wing of the building, you’ll unlock one of the multiple endings.
Any game focused on speed and global competitions needs an engine that can keep up. Developer Coilworks used an in-house engine, and it successfully targets 60 frames-per-second. No matter how quick Demi moved or how many enemies are on the screen at a time, the engine never struggles to keep up. The smooth gameplay is complemented by a wonderfully unique art style. The world of Super Cloudbuilt is wonderful to take in, and the cel-shaded and vibrantly colored levels really stick out. Since the main story mode is not time-based, players are able to slow down and take in their surroundings. While there is no photo mode, there are various rendering modes to choose from if you want to experience the game with a different look, including such options as black-and-white edge outlines and extra-saturated modes.
A Nice Challenge
Super Cloudbuilt’s audio fits its surrealist/sci-fi setting, as Demi’s rocket exosuit lets out high-pitched squeals as you use it. The various robotic enemies you encounter make telltale noises as they engage you in combat and whir down as you defeat them. The soundtrack can get a bit repetitive, but it’s generally enjoyable as it mixes arcade beats with futuristic sound effects, and the occasional Asian inspiration.
Super Cloudbuilt is an impressive entry in the platforming genre. The level of challenge on offer is sure to please those looking for a chance to prove themselves. Leaderboards help to increase the game’s longevity, and there is little doubt that some players will spend dozens of hours attempting to claim the world’s fastest time or best results. The intense difficulty and quick reflex requirement may put some off, but with practice most people can see the story to its conclusion. If you’re a platforming fan that wants to test their skills then play Super Cloudbuilt.
Super Cloudbuilt PS4 review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.