In life, there are always paths and choices to take and be made. In death, those who support the idea of an afterlife would have to hope there are options to make too. But what about the space between, somewhere stuck between life and death? Limbo, purgatory, and comas all seem to lead towards the same fleeting idea of helplessness in the form of an out of body experience. In Super Cloudbuilt, you will guide Demi, a wounded soldier, through her own out of body journey as she tries to discover what happened to her. She sees herself asleep in a hospital bed, a building with many doors. Behind each door is a different path, a different trial, each of which will guide her to an answer. Will you help her find that answer?
Super Cloudbuilt is parkour shooter of sorts that gives off both Megaman Legends and Mirrors Edge vibes. Developed by Coilworks and released to Steam back in 2014, the title is back to give speedrunners and adventures alike a run for their money on Xbox One. I was drawn to the title initially by its vibrant look, and the instant sense of Megaman Legends styled gameplay. While the Megaman-esque ambitions I had fell short, there is still a lot of old-school feeling gameplay here. Each level is essentially a get from here to there layout, with some set checkpoints in-between. Within the hospital setting, Demi can access three different hallways from her room, and each have a different series of levels to experience. Each hall serves as a different path, revealing different answers and ultimately different endings. Across the path I had taken, I found a tough, sometimes annoying but usually fun adventure.
The levels are typically either long or tall in scope, featuring a floating, crumbled dystopia for you to scale. Designed with parkour in mind, no stretch of land typically goes long without breaking into a new chunk. The level structure across the board was very solid, built with running, jumping, boosting, and strategy in mind. With your exo-suit, you can boost across gaps, double jump, and sprint across and up walls. This is where the strategy comes into play, as you need to keep a close eye on your energy. Each of these special actions require energy, so management is key if you want to stay alive longer. There are also various traps set out to slow you down or even kill you. Energy dampeners prevent you from having a lot of energy or any at all, making you rely more on skill and precision than on gadgets. Others like land mines and sweeping lasers are a bit more common, but just as deadly if you do not have your wits about you.
Just as deadly are the enemies scattered about. Now for me personally, they were a definite let down. What you will fight along the way are drone like robots that sit on all fours, crawling towards you or staying still and turret like. They are typically just roadblocks along the way, and do not pose much of a threat in an AI sense. You can either zip past ‘em, or give them a couple shots with your blaster. What is disappointing is that a deeper rooted action sense could have done a lot for the game. From more variety to awesome boss fights, a lot is seemingly missing from the dull combat that was implemented. Thankfully, the traversal is mostly good. Once you get it down, the game becomes a lot more enjoyable. I am not sure if others had the same issue, but sometimes Demi and the camera were much too fast, making it easy to misstep or jump on impulse. Aside from that, I loved the parkour style gameplay. Climbing towers and dashing across floating structures was a great experience when I was in the zone and not getting flustered by the sometimes clunky controls.
Now aside from the traversal, the highlight of Super Cloudbuilt was its approach on visual styles. Super Cloudbuilt features not one, not two, but eight unique visual styles that are each impressive in their own way. I have attached a video below which showcases some of these to get a better idea of it. From different palettes to different pencil styles, it is all fun to look at. My personal favorite for both looks and playability was the “Vibrant”. This style made everything a bit sleeker, dropping the harsh cel-shading for a cleaner look. Some of the others were quite cool, but were not ideal for playing in. On the audio side of things Coilworks did a great job at having tracks that had a lighthearted, go-get-em attitude that fit just right for this adventure. They were lively enough to keep you engaged but not too in-your-face to distract you when trying to focus. Only complaint on this side of the fence is that there, like with the enemies, there was not enough variety.
Super Cloudbuilt offers two other modes outside of the Story Mode, with those being Ranked and Rush. Ranked is a simple mode, allowing you to replay levels for your spot on the leaderboard. At the time of writing, not much is happening in these leaderboards sadly. This mode and Rush are both for the diehards, looking for a challenge. In Rush, you will tackle a set of levels as opposed to one, again competing for a fast time. I did not get to partake in these, but I get the concept. Story mode was more my cup of tea, as I much preferred the lax approach of adventuring and taking my time, looking around and trying new approaches at the maps. Like the visual style, variety is the spice of the title, with each level offering multiple approaches at completion. These approaches allowed me to drop some of my frustrations and find opportunity elsewhere, making the game easier to appreciate. I think Super Cloudbuilt has a lot conceptually going for it, but not enough of the aspects are definitively fleshed out like the misfired story and shallow combat. That is where the visuals and core parkour gameplay take over, and keep Super Cloudbuilt afloat.
Super Cloudbuilt is not for everyone. Its sometimes finicky controls will leave many angry or unconfident in their skills. The stuff it does get right however, were enough for me to deem it a decent title that challenge seekers, speedrunners, and adventures alike will find worthwhile.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 6.5/10
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