Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Microsoft Xbox One, PC, iOS and Nintendo Switch
With Cyberpunk 2077 on the horizon and after its multiple delays, are you itching to explore a dark dystopian neon world? Cloudpunk could keep you occupied for a while, as long as you know what you are getting yourself into. It may not have the massive development team behind it, it may not be all-singing and all-dancing but Cloudpunk does do a few things that I think a lot of people will enjoy.
You play Rania, a newly hired delivery driver of under-the-radar delivery company Cloudpunk in the city of Nivalis. The number of vehicle crashes is increasing and who or what the hell is CORA? Deliveries are getting more dangerous by the day and most people think you won't even survive the first night. Is it too late to re-think your career choices? Cloudpunk is basically a game about making deliveries, there are little bits of exploration and quite a lot of character interaction and as long as you are not expecting more than that, it’s a very chilled and pleasant experience.
There is no combat to speak of and I have yet to see a game over screen but something about Cloudpunk keeps dragging me back into its gloomy dank world. Cloudpunk is chock full of interesting stories and cleverly written characters with delightfully humorous dialogue. After playing Ghosts of Tsushima and Nioh 2, this game was a breath of fresh air. It is neither all-encompassing nor overwhelming and I truly enjoyed exploring this cyberpunk future and unravelling the intricate stories of its characters. Cloudpunk takes a slower route with its gameplay and I needed that right now.
During your many deliveries, you are treated to small side quests and conversations with many zany and wacky characters. There was one quest where I had to talk a psychotic elevator back into carrying humans again. From funny AI's to distressed androids, everyone you speak to has a story, it's all fully voiced too, which was unexpected for the scale of this title. The stories you explore are often very current and prominent, like class or creed, identity struggles, peoples rights, pineapple on pizza and the big human vs machine debate. In a lot of games, I would normally gloss over story details or conversations but in Cloudpunk I often found myself getting lost in the problems that face this possible future. It surprised me quite a bit due to its mix of tackling serious issues and some comical writing, in which I clung to every word.
I would like to give a shout out to Rania’s custom AI companion. I found the dialogue between Rania and him very warming, whimsical and enjoyable. I also found Rania to be very funny, witty and cleverly written. She always had a clever answer, always dealt with idiots in a playful way and was a constant joy throughout my time exploring Nivalis. It was a delight listening to her as you went about your delivery assignments.
Some parts of the story and mission structure also have choices for you to make, normally moral decisions with a good or bad option for you to decide over. There were a few I had to ponder over and I enjoyed meandering either side of the moral spectrum, floating between good and bad as I saw fit. I often play moral choice games this way, I like taking the evil option as I cannot do that in real life but there was the odd time my conscience did get the better of me or sometimes, if the good option was closer on the map, it would funnel me into doing the right thing. Damn my laziness and my conscience!
From a presentation standpoint, Cloudpunk has a voxel-based graphical style. Think of something like Minecraft or a better comparison would be Resogun. Everything is made up of 3D pixels, it may not be everyone's cup of tea and it takes a bit of adjustment to get used to but in the end, I really admired it. It's different and gives Cloudpunk a unique look. This paired with some nice lighting, environmental work and neon signage make Cloudpunk really stand out amongst other games that are out at the moment. It's beautifully stripped back by modern standards.
The sounds of Cloudpunk are also very nice, every NPC is voice acted, which as I said earlier, is a nice surprise with a smaller title like this. The music is also superb, crunchy, futuristic tones accompany your jaunts and it was always a pleasure to listen to. I like this kind of music though so your mileage may vary, all I can say is the graphics, sound and writing all add together to give the game a truly unique feel. I was really taken aback by how much it dragged me into its world, how much I felt invested in it, I really cared what happened to Rania.
As much as I enjoyed Cloudpunk, and I did really, really enjoy it, it’s not perfect. Performance-wise, it's a little rough around the edges. When you enter a new area the game pauses for a second or two. There is also screen tearing, pop ins, and the draw distance is quite low. I even had it crash on me once. I have taken all this on board and it is on the whole, not game-breaking. It stopped bothering me after a while because I was so invested. If the game was not as interesting as it is, this would be a real issue, I will dock a mark or two for poor performance but do not let it dissuade you from trying it. Hopefully, the developers can fix the performance issues because Cloudpunk is truly worth it.