Review: Super Cloudbuilt (Computer)

Super Cloudbuilt: Official GBAtemp Review

Computer 1,325 view 3 likes 4 comments
Reviewed by Prans Dunn, posted Jul 27, 2017
Jul 27, 2017
  • Release Date (NA): July 25, 2017
  • Release Date (EU): July 25, 2017
  • Publisher: Double Eleven
  • Developer: Coilworks
  • Genres: Action platformer
  • Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Initially released in 2014 exclusively for PC, Cloudbuilt is back with a “Super” adjective for a current gen re-release and scratches that exclusivity shenanigan. How does it hold up?
Prans Dunn

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Run Girl, Run!

Starting off, you are given control of some kind of soul to explore the ruin that you are in. This stage serves as a tutorial of sorts to help you get acquainted with the controls. The latter need some serious getting used to in order for you to tackle the upcoming stages but this particular stage is rather frustrating given the fact that you aren’t yet fully equipped as you are for the rest of the game. Good thing it’s not too long!

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As you progress through the tutorial, you’ll end up in a deserted hospital and find yourself face to face with… yourself!!!

Talk about an out-of-body experience! Demi, the protagonist, has actually been injured in battle and fell into a coma. You take on the role of her disconnected “soul” to take on several levels that serve as a means for Demi to come to terms with her new reality.

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As deep as the story might seem, it is not much expanded upon. Once each level is completed, Demi will briefly reflect about an issue somewhat related to that level’s theme but the brevity left me more than once unsatisfied. After all, one would expect a more thorough narration after the ordeal Demi is put to in each level.

Yes, Super Cloudbuilt is no easy game, even with the extra lives that can be unlocked in each level by collecting hidden items. Getting your head around the controls is one thing but the dexterity required to successfully apply them in avoiding bottomless chasms at speeds challenging that of The Blue Blur is another thing. Once you unlock the rocket-powered Exoskeleton and energy gun early in the game, you’ll realize that it is indispensable for your progress. From here on, the game becomes a fast-paced frenzy; the Exoskeleton allows Demi to propel herself across long distances, run on walls, hover from ledge to ledge across abysses, avoid those indestructible mines while the trusty energy gun allows her to shoot à la Mega Man at those pesky sentinels determined to impede her progress. However, the game does not make things any easier as in addition to the very limited fuel for your Exoskeleton and gun, there are “Dissipation Fields” that totally or partially drain the energy, effectively preventing you to use abilities like dashes and air jumps. You’ll need to find ways to maintain your momentum through these zones and carefully time your jumps; a slightly different angle or a well-timed wall grab can make all the difference. You can't always be fast but you'll be furious as you'll have to slow down at these zones and during unavoidable combat sequences. It’s somewhat heinous for the developers to get you to depend on the exoskeleton, feel the thrill of rocket-fueled parkour only to prevent you to use it and slow down more often than you’d like to.

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Nevertheless, the clever level design allows for crafting your own path in order to reach the level’s exit. Clearly, much more emphasis was made on creating the levels than on developing the story. Want to take down that sentinel before it sees you? There’s a path for that. Want to go head-on and attack the sentinel? There’s a path for that. Want to avoid that sentinel altogether? There’s a path for that too. The open-ended exploration puts you in control of the path you want to take in order to complete each level. I deplore the lack of a zoom-in feature which would make things much easier to plan a route and even detect those hidden items.

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Still on the topic of controls, the default setup is totally unintuitive. Assigning jumping to LB is something I’ve never encountered and something no one should, especially in a game where this action is paramount. And I’d have unintentionally hit the respawn button way too much, had I not customized the setup to a more comfortable one. Yes, the first thing to do before playing this game should be to reassign the controls to one that feels more natural to you.

Another lacking feature is the number of checkpoints. There are very few in every level but you can collect deployable ones which, while can be very handy, require some detour to pick up and should you forget to deploy one, you’re back to the last checkpoint you forgot you passed. This adds a whole new level of difficulty to the game so you need to carefully look out for checkpoints because you’ll definitely need to respawn several times before finding the proper route to completing a level.

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If the game wasn’t challenging enough for you, there are additional challenges that open up once a level is completed, like besting the time taken to complete a level, following a pacifist route or finding hidden beacons. There are also leaderboards for each level; two per level, one global across all players, and another which is platform-specific. Not to mention the hidden items within each levels if collected allow you to unlock extra lives which can prove to be crucial in tougher levels. There is a lot of replay value to this game, particularly for those looking to challenge themselves and/or others.

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Built in the Clouds

Even if much emphasis has been made on the level design, after completing half a dozen, they started to feel repetitive to me. They all feature hovering walls, islets and platforms over some bottomless chasm with the same enemies, some greenery or a more industrialized setting, all in ruins, just littered around randomly and with some color variations.

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Speaking of variation, developer Coilworks has added a neat feature to the game: the ability to change the game’s graphic styles. It’s pretty fun to be able to play around with the styles and give a different look to the game whenever you want it:

Demi-super

Super Cloudbuilt is a challenging game that might be off-putting to beginners. It's most fun during its fast-paced, rocket-fueled parkour sessions but downplays itself with the slow combats, obstacles, repetitive layout and often preventing you from using the game's centerpiece mechanic, the exo-suit.

Verdict
Pros
+ Interesting level design
+ Challenging
+ Fun fast-paced sequences
+ Striking and interchangeable artsyles
Cons
- Poorly expanded plot
- Levels feel repetitive in the long run
- Hard-to-master controls
- Difficulty might be off-putting to beginners
- Combat sequences slow things down
7 Presentation
The cel-shading artstyle makes for pretty environments but these feel repetitive as the same elements are used level after level with some minor tweaks.
7 Gameplay
While the fast-paced action is the most fun part of the game, the thrilled is killed during the recurring sessions where you have to take down enemies, avoid mines or are literally prevented to use your exo-suit.
8 Lasting Appeal
With its numerous challenges and leaderboards, Super Cloudbuilt is built to endure and those looking for a challenge will not be disappointed.
7
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Challenging, thrilling, frustrating, fun, repetitive; Super Cloudbuilt encompasses all of these attributes by emerging a fast-paced platformer but preventing itself from making the most of it.
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