The Final Countdown: Cloudbuilt

The launch of Coilworks' parkour-centric third-person running and gunning adventure Cloudbuilt is nearly upon us. Thus far, the game's drawn comparisons to Mirror's Edge and Prince of Persia, with a persistent Mega Man vibe to it. But is that all the game is? We'll know for sure when it launches tomorrow, but judging from Coilworks' pre-release build of the game, it could definitely be much, much more.

As we await the arrival of Cloudbuilt on the eve of its launch, let's take a look at a few of the game's key features. The Final Countdown is on, so let's go for a run across the big parkour-friendly sky structures that this upcoming title has to offer.

Run, jump, boost, and shoot in the sky

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True to its name, the levels in Cloudbuilt sit atop the clouds, designed ever so intricately in the sky and ready to give you an ample challenge. The concept of the game is simple: you run at fast speeds, jump off ledges, dash across walls, and perform incredible feat after incredible feat. It's a fairly straightforward premise, and it's actually pretty easy to grasp, making Cloudbuilt an inviting game. Of course, this isn't by any means an easy game to conquer. There's an inherent challenge prevalent throughout that requires some level of parkour mastery.

The game's double-jump makes it so that there's a little less tension every time you come off a ledge. It would be pretty frustrating to attempt a death-defying leap only to come up short (in the process doing everything but defying death). That's why the inclusion of the double-jump adds a little stress relief.

Another major gameplay element is the boost ability. Tapping the boost button gives you a bit of speed but consumes energy. While your energy regenerates after a few seconds, if you're trying to jump across certain gaps, run up specific walls, or just beat a goal time, you're going to have to decide whether you should use up your energy or conserve it.

In addition to all of the pacifist running and jumping, you also engage in a bit of combat. It's not exactly deep or immersive, but it adds yet another layer to this sky-laden romp. Enemies pop up throughout the levels, and it's up to you to eliminate them with your laser cannon to ensure that the skies are safe for you run through.

Mirror's Edge-style parkour craziness

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The thing that made Mirror's Edge such a hit amongst its fan base was how rewarding it felt to wall-run and leap from building to building. Cloudbuilt offers a similar sense of satisfaction, and it's really breathtaking being able to shimmy up a vertical wall and then jump off of it onto another structure. Unlike Mirror's Edge, this is a third-person game, but as far as that mesmerizing feeling is concerned, it's completely intact here.

Cloudbuilt requires solid reflexes and good timing, but it's pretty relaxed as far as how much determination it asks of you is concerned. For example, while you can totally attempt to beat a record time, you don't have to. If you'd much rather simply enjoy the exhilarating freerunning gameplay, you can do exactly that without worrying about the pressures of a constantly ticking timer.

Branching paths allow for more freedom

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The thing that sticks out most — aside from all of the insanely awesome action — is the freedom that Cloudbuilt allows. While your end goal is the same, you can get there in any number of ways. Branching paths provide you with different options, some more difficult than others. So if you're looking to master the game and achieve your fullest potential, you can take a tougher route filled with trickier jumps. If you'd rather just stick with the safer road (not that it'll be really easy to get through), you can opt to do so.

Thankfully, Cloudbuilt also includes a nice checkpoint system, so if you find yourself constantly meeting an early demise, you don't have to fret about starting the level over again. While you could argue that this breaks the momentum of beating a stage in one go, it's there to provide players with an experience that isn't locked behind intense and frustrating mandatory restrictions.

Incredible art style

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I can't talk about Cloudbuilt without mentioning just how massively impressive the whole game looks. Levels have a slick hand-drawn aesthetic that's just a total visual treat. The game is also heavy with color, and the way Coilworks incorporated both wonderful scratchy lines and bold patches of color throughout the whole thing is easy to appreciate. The art design gives Cloudbuilt a unique look that helps set it apart from the games that it's compared to.

More than just Mega Man-meets-Mirror's Edge

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Even if this was just some amalgamation of Mega Man and Mirror's Edge, it'd be a damn fine game worth looking forward to. That's not the case, though. Cloudbuilt already feels like more than just a third-person Mirror's Edge clone with Mega Man shooting. Sure, it may draw inspiration from a few games, but it carves a path of its own. Then it runs down that path, dashes up some walls, and leaps over to a far-off platform.

That's just the kind of game that Cloudbuilt is. It's a parkour action title that's not afraid to draw influence from some great games all the while providing you with a riveting experience of its own. If you're into platformers and want something a little different from the norm, keep a lookout for Cloudbuilt when it launches on Steam tomorrow.

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