Developer: ION LANDS
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Gene(s): Adventure, Indie, RPG
Publisher: Merge Games
Cloudpunk is the journey of the newbie driver, Rania, who has fled her home-world to become a delivery driver in Navalis to make ends meet. The game centres on Rania’s first night delivering packages for Cloudpunk, an illicit delivery company. Game mechanics involve driving through a dystopian pixelated world and hand-delivering packages in either first person or 3rd person. While the mechanics and game-play are straightforward and easy to get to grips, it mainly serves as a way to deliver the heavily driven narrative story of Navalis and the ills of this world.
The neon-noir pixelated world of Navalis is visually stunning. The mixture of neon-bright skyscapes mixed with darkness brings the bleakness of the world to life. Pixelated blocky rendering adds to the city and doesn’t detract from the game. Different parts of the city have different density of people, cars and buildings which makes each part of the city worthy of a visit. The main storyline will guide you through the many parts of the city.
This game is driven heavily by the interactions of “Control” (the voice of Cloudpunk) and Rania. However, as you complete more missions and interact with people, you begin to scratch away at the surface of Navalis and find out more about this place. The missions make Rania choose between keeping the status quo in the city or challenging the powerful and rich. Rania’s AI companion Camus acts as a sounding board, large parts of the game involve monologues where we uncover more about Rania and the isolation she feels. The game excels in the narrative aspects, the storyline and creating the world and people of Navalis. There are a few drawbacks, the use of character animation as opposed to static pictures would have brought the characters to life when they are conversing.
I was playing the game on the Xbox and found the load times frustratingly slow. When the maps did load, I found your car unresponsive and then frame rates would severely drop too. Elements of the map and markers weren’t particularly clear especially at the start of the game. These were all minor annoyances in an otherwise very enjoyable game.
Cloundpunk is an interesting mix of narrative-driven game-play with superb visuals that embrace the neon-noir style. Thematically the game looks at poverty, isolation, greed and class which it underpins the majority of missions. The interaction between Control and Rania drives the narrative and is further enhanced by missions. Certain missions will require the player to make judgement calls on what the best approach is. The game is about 9 hours long. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the mechanics and how it played. The load times and framerate issues were a minor issue in the grand scheme of things.