Released back in 2014, I have to confess, I’ve never played Cloudbuilt, the fast-paced parkour-laden platform game developed by Coilworks.
I have, however, now played a remastered version of it; enhanced and expanded upon, not only to bring fans of the original title back into the fold, but to hopefully attract the attention of a new audience too. And you know what, I hope it does, as Super Cloudbuilt offers an experience like no other. An experience that’s engaging, exciting, thrilling, thought provoking, even cathartic.
Challenging you to negotiate levels suspended above an abyss, Super Cloudbuilt is all about speed, precision and skill. You take control of a soldier called Demi, or rather, the spirit of Demi – her broken body currently lies in a bed in a mysterious and dilapidated building – and only as you progress through the game’s story mode will you perhaps discover the reason for her predicament. Although, trust me, it won’t be an easy journey.
“After an hour or so of play, Super Cloudbuilt will have your head spinning as you jump from wall to wall while shooting hostile robots and avoiding damaging forcefields, but you’ll be better at it than you were half an hour ago, and in another hour you’ll be even better still.”
Equipped with a light rocket-powered exosuit and a handy firearm, every one of Super Cloudbuilt‘s levels will have you running, jumping and gunning your way to success. Each level is almost like a maze, a puzzle that you need to take a step back from to see the bigger picture. To get to the answer – the final destination – there are multiple routes, and which one you take will be largely down to your experience with the game and your skill.
Initially, you’ll proceed through each level with cautious trepidation. Super Cloudbuilt moves at an alarming pace, and getting to grips with rocket assisted wallruns, death defying jumps and eye-watering slides can take some time, especially when you need to chain them together in quick succession. Over time though it becomes more natural to you, and as the sheer vertically of the levels becomes less alien to your brain, you become more confident in just throwing yourself into the task.
After an hour or so of play, Super Cloudbuilt will have your head spinning as you jump from wall to wall while shooting hostile robots and avoiding damaging forcefields, but you’ll be better at it than you were half an hour ago, and in another hour you’ll be even better still. Sometimes you might get a little mad when the controls don’t quite do what you want them to do, but when you reach the green pad at the end of a level you’ll feel a sense of elation, a sense of accomplishment, and so you’ll move onto the next, eager to step up the next challenge.
Making your way though Super Cloudbuilt‘s story mode is imperative to unlock content for its two other modes, Ranked and Rush. Split into four wards, Super Cloudbuilt‘s story mode hub gives you some freedom to complete levels in the order you see fit, with a number system signifying a level’s difficulty. Each ward is expanded as you complete the levels within it, opening up yet more levels for you to complete, while previously completed levels can be revisited to retry them under a number of challenge conditions if a glowing blue orb wishes it so.
As you reach the higher difficulty levels, going back to apply your developed skills to the ones you’ve completed earlier becomes quite lucrative. Every level you complete increases the number of lives you have available to complete a level, with a further one to be found and multiple other rewards to aim for by completing challenges. Items available include health boosts to make you more hardy and alternative weapons to give you the upper hand in battle, though the usefulness of the latter is rather limited when most enemies are best left avoided where possible.
While running out of lives in Super Cloudbuilt is a concern, especially on harder levels, there is a checkpoint system in play to make levels a little more manageable. Many are set in stone, but you’re also able to create your own checkpoints by collecting pickups within each level. There’s never an abundance of them, however, so they’re best saved for when you’re struggling with a particular part of a level, placing it before or after to prevent you from having to play repeated extended segments.
“Super Cloudbuilt‘s frenetic nature means it won’t be for everybody – it starts challenging and only gets harder from there – but for those who can keep up with its breakneck pace and conundrum like levels it’ll be addictive and utterly mesmerising.”
As mentioned earlier, making your way through Super Cloudbuilt‘s story mode unlocks content for its other two modes. Ranked mode lets you play any level, including its challenge variants, that you’ve completed, posting your performance on global leaderboards so you can see how you stack up against the competition. Rush mode on the other hand lets you play though groups of levels one after the other, recording your time taken to once again measure your performance on global leaderboards. There are also a huge number of outfits to unlock for Demi, allowing you to tweak her appearance toy your desire, though most are simply colour palette swaps.
Visually, Super Cloudbuilt is a treat. On a technical levels it’s all very basic, with lots of plainly coloured surfaces and low quality textures. A fantastic cartoon sketch effect is then applied, which really brings the visuals to life, making everything look way more detailed than it is. If you don’t get on with the way Super Cloudbuilt looks there are also a variety of alternative rendering modes, mainly included to allow streamers and Youtubers to improve video quality. Super Cloudbuilt‘s soundtrack is also fantastic; an eclectic mix of techno and drum and bass that really gets the blood pumping as you speed though the levels.
Super Cloudbuilt‘s frenetic nature means it won’t be for everybody – it starts challenging and only gets harder from there – but for those who can keep up with its breakneck pace and conundrum-like levels, it’ll be addictive and utterly mesmerising. Completing a level for the first time is rewarding enough, but revisiting one once you’ve honed your skills with a view to see just how fast you can make it to the end is on another level. And trying to complete a level under challenge conditions such as conserving your rocket energy or not killing any enemies adds another dimension that only furthers the enjoyment to be had. There’s no doubt about it, Super Cloudbuilt is a game that any speedrunner or platformer enthusiast should add to their collection.