The original Cloudbuilt released in 2014 to positive reviews, providing a fun speedrunning platformer that had you juggling shooting mechanics while running on walls and making giant leaps. We're now getting an updated version of the game in the form of Super Cloudbuilt. Is the game actually as super as suggested, or should we stick to building on the ground?
You'll play as a woman who's name I never saw given in-game but is named Demi according to Wikipedia. She wakes up as a ghost and finds her body laying in a hospital bed, broken and hooked up to various machines. You'd think Demi would begin trying to learn how she got there and whats the deal with the broken worlds she's forced to explore, but this is not the case. Instead, Demi just monologues about vague philosophical concepts between levels, and I often had no clue what her newest rants were about. Eventually, you'll get one of four nonsensical endings that are all extremely similar. They felt disconnected from any other part of the game, but at least I could just skip them.
One of the biggest differences between the original game and Super Cloudbuilt comes in the form of a hub world. While the original game had a level select where you just picked where you wanted to go, here you'll be exploring a dilapidated hospital that seems to expand every time you finish a level. While the hub world isn't big enough to really annoy me, I still did wish I could just use a level select. In a game about speedrunning, the hub world slows the game down.
Once you get into a level, things proceed much smoother. Your goal in each level is simply to get to the finish line. Along the way you'll have to jump, wall run, slide, and perform all sorts of acrobatic platforming to avoid enemies and traps. At first, I was nervous, as the game felt floaty and imprecise, especially when it came to wall running. Thankfully, you get access to the jump pack soon after the intro which runs off energy that refills whenever both feet are on the ground. This tool allows you to perform triple jumps and dashes while also making your wall running a much easier and controllable experience. Once all this falls into place, Super Cloudbuilt just clicks.
With the jump pack at your disposal, you can navigate through the game's levels with... well I don't want to say ease. Not because the controls make it difficult mind you. I had no problem maneuvering my character, and by the end of the game, I was able to chain together various jumps that almost made it look like I had half a clue of what I was doing. Rather, it's because the game is just hard. Traps and turrets line the path forward, and I had to become skilled at timing my jumps to avoid those along with making it to the next platform. It wasn't uncommon to watch Demi hurtling to her death because I accidentally tripped a mine. Most of the time, this felt like my fault, as I had made an error in when to perform a certain skill.
I am saying most of the time here though. Some levels in Super Cloudbuilt contain traps that feel like someone put there just to shout "got'cha!" and make you lose a life. Bombs falling from the ceiling with no warning are the most common culprit, often with no way of knowing they'll be there other than having fallen into the trap once. Another common trick is placing sniper turrets in absurd locations that can't really be responded to unless you know they're there ahead of time. It's not often enough to really ruin the game, but every few levels I'd feel like a run ended prematurely because of some cheap trick.
You'll also get a gun, which you can use to fight the enemies that will try and stop you. The gun has three different fire modes, either able to shoot weak but long-ranged homing shots, short ranged shotgun blasts, or sticky bombs that I never bothered to use because they took so long to deal damage. The gun works well enough, though the homing shots occasionally felt like they were going off target. As you play the game you can collect items that can alter what your gun does, and I eventually chose to replace the sticky bomb with a shield. It helps make the gun work a little more in my favor, though it's rather difficult to actually earn these items.
Every time you complete a level you'll be rewarded with an extra life. In addition to this, you can find collectibles scattered around the levels that can nab you a second extra life or an item. It's not the act of actually finding the collectibles that's difficult since they're often in an easy to see location. Rather, it's reaching them alive that's the hard part. Many require you to take challenging paths that may not make much sense at first. I often left stages without getting all of the collectibles simply because I was frustrated at failing another attempt at doing so.
Super Cloudbuilt's story took me a solid six hours to finish and included some bonus levels that are so absurdly difficult that I spent another hour throwing myself at one of them before calling it quits. You can also play challenge versions of levels which will put certain restrictions on you. For example, a pacifist run will make it so you can't use your weapon at all. There's also a rush mode, which chains together levels with similar themes and has you run them one after another. Trying to find the fastest way through each level and earning high rankings sure is a thrill, and it also means avoiding the game slowing hub world mentioned before. This is where the speedrunners will really thrive, and those who just need to challenge every leaderboard they see can get hours out of the game just trying to shave a few more seconds off of their times.
All of this is wrapped up in a neat package, as Super Cloudbuilt has this lovely notebook sketch art style. Looking closely at the textures reveals a cool cross hatching shading style that really stands out from other games. There's also a bunch of filters included with the game that can change the art style significantly while still making it stand out from the crowd. The soundtrack was catchy enough to work with the game, but not something I really cared about once the game was off, while the voice acting felt as flat and hollow as the game's story.
Super Cloudbuilt is a game that should really appeal to the speedrunning crowd, but even fans of fast paced platformers should find something enjoyable here. The simple thrill of successfully chaining together a series of moves to finally reach an area I couldn't before was more than enough to keep pushing me through some cheap areas and a laughably dumb story. Just be ready to die a lot, as the game is merciless in its attempts to kill you.
Super Cloudbuilt's fast paced platforming is the exact kind of thing that will draw in a dedicated speedrunning and leaderboard chasing crowd. For a casual fan who wants a challenge, it can also be a fun platformer, but I just wish it rewrote the nonsensical story and cut out the hub world.
- Fast Paced Platforming Perfect for Speedrunners
- Complicated Moves Feel Great
- Fantastic Art Style
- Less Story, More Vague Philosophical Rants
- Hub World Slows Down Game
- Trial and Error Traps