Free-running platformers are kind of a new area for me. While I have played a bit of Mirror’s Edge, I haven’t had a chance to play more than a few minutes of it (something I plan to rectify at some point), so I’m not entirely new to the concept of constantly running around and hopping from platform to platform outside of 2D side-scrollers. Cloudbuilt, an upcoming game by Coilworks, is the first free-running platformer that I’ve played extensively, so the question is does the game do a good job of getting me into the genre? Let’s take a look at the preview build to find out. Please keep in mind though that this was only a preview build and may not be reflective of the final game.
The first stage is basically an intro stage. There are no enemies and the stage has a decent pace to it while introducing some of the game’s mechanics. After that you go to the game’s “hub” so to speak where you see a young girl in bed (who I swear reminds me of Yai from the Mega Man Battle Network series), which leads you to wonder why you’re playing as a blue exoskeleton so to speak. The PC in the corner of the room will give some insight to the story and more of it unfolds as the game progresses. Talking to the girl in the bed takes you to a map screen where you can choose your stage. After the first stage the map branches out into two paths.
The intro stage and the first stage after that are pretty good as they introduce you to the game’s mechanics and it’s paced as such; to give you a chance to experiment with the controls and mechanics of the game without putting you in too much danger. After that though you begin to learn about one of the game’s current flaws: your character moves pretty quickly. While I do get that this is a free-running platformer, the fact that you move quickly means that it doesn’t take much to overshoot platforms, especially those that aren’t that big to begin with. There’s also an inconsistency with what happens when you hit the edge of a platform. If you approach it from the front you’ll temporarily stop and then drop down while holding onto the ledge, just as if you were trying to climb up it from below. However, backing off a platform will send you off of it entirely. Given how fast you move it’s very easy to accidentally back off a platform and to your death.
There are a few mechanics that I recommend you spend time with to master or else you’ll constantly be falling to your doom. While your standard jump isn’t too impressive (seriously, you jump maybe a couple of inches off the ground), you do have a double jump that you’ll make use of constantly. Another mechanic is a wall climb which you can use to temporarily run up a wall for a moment, which leads into the next mechanic: the boost. While you can use this to rocket yourself forward past obstacles, you can also use it while wall climbing to boost yourself up the wall. This is also useful when wall running to elevate yourself on the wall. Finally, you have a blaster with which you can fire at various enemies, some of which can be defeated, others just stunned. Putting all of these mechanics together will help you get through each stage…but there’s one other issue to discuss: the difficulty.
As stated, the first two stages are simple and rightfully so. They’re there to introduce you to the game’s mechanics and ease you into the game. After that the difficulty tends to increase sharply. The split paths on the map allows you to try one stage if the other seems too difficult. However, even the early stages can be difficult, especially with the aforementioned small platforms that are easy to overshoot. While you can get a better rank by completing a stage fast enough, don’t worry about that until you complete the stage for the first time. Just concentrate on getting through the stage, but even then it seems the difficulty is pretty high.
When it comes down to it, Cloudbuilt has promise, but it seems like a few things can be changed. The things I’d like to see addressed are the difficulty and the character’s speed. An issue I seem to have is I constantly overshoot or undershoot platforms and when I’m running on the walls. You’re supposed to be able to look in the direction you want to jump off of a wall to hit another wall or platform, but it takes a bit of practice to master that. I think Cloudbuilt can be a fun game, it just needs to have a few tweaks to get it there.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.