When it comes to parkour mechanics, there's a fine line between fun and frustrating. If the movement is too sharp and finely tuned, then even the slightest movement can throw you off the tighter jumps, whereas if it's too floaty then the game becomes too easy and unsatisfying to play. Super Cloudbuilt takes aim and hits the sweet spot between the two ends of the spectrum perfectly.
Set in a mysterious hospital with gateway portals to another dimension with floating platforms and hostile robots, you play as Demi; a female soldier who has been injured and finds herself in this unknown world where her body is resigned to a hospital bed and players control her ghostly figure. The story revolves around completing paths through different types of levels to discover and remember exactly what happened and why she's in the situation that she's in. Despite having four separate endings, the narrative is undoubtedly the most lacklustre aspect of the game, with little closure and lots of ambiguity.
Thankfully, that's the only aspect where Super Cloudbuilt falls short. Demi is equipped with a thruster pack on her back that means you can manoeuvre and reach absurd speeds, all while ascending the enigmatic platforms shrouded in mystery. Wall-jumping and combining boosts with finding the optimal route through each level feels smooth and fluid, and there's plenty of routes to take depending on if you just want to get from start to finish as quickly as possible, or whether your goal is to collect everything possible.
Demi also wields a pistol with two fire modes; single semi-automatic and a charge shot for taking down different types of enemies. There are plenty of turrets, lasers, and drones that will rain bullets on your parade that you'll need to take out before proceeding. Pull off a sick slide with two quickfire shots to destroy some turrets before wall-jumping between two parallel surfaces and you'll feel like the coolest damn free-runner ever. Do that more than once and finish a level in record speed? Welcome to your new Super Cloudbuilt addiction.
Checkpoints are often few and far between, but you're given one portable checkpoint you can place along with more throughout the level that you can collect and place at your will. There's rarely a point where you'll feel stuck or annoyed that there isn't more checkpoints, and if you're not trying to speedrun, then there's plenty of points to rest and assess the next section of platforming.
There are five pickups scattered across every level; four tokens labelled A to D and one that increases your maximum number of lives by one. You already start the game with a considerable number of lives that are reset every time you complete a level so they're by no means necessary to obtain, and your total increases by one through every completed level anyway. For the completionists that want to explore every path, though, there's plenty of reasons to replay each level a few times. Challenges for each level are unlocked upon reaching the end too, putting a different spin on every level.
Aesthetically, it's very similar to Borderlands with the cartoon/hand-drawn style, and it looks gorgeous. If you're not a fan though, because it understandably won't be for everyone, you can change the visuals via the options, with different filters like painted and sketchbook. Audio cues are necessary if you're unaware of a drone hunting you down or a turret firing at you, and the light, upbeat soundtrack is a joy to listen to and doesn't get old.
Super Cloudbuilt is quite possibly the best parkour-esque experience on the console right now, and it's a joy to play. The narrative falls well short and that's unfortunate because it could have scored higher otherwise, but what we're left with is a mechanically sound and fun experience that speedrunners are going to love. Finding the fastest paths through each environment, along with every single route to find all the often-well-hidden collectibles, is nothing short of sublime due to the fantastic movement mechanics. If you're looking for a cheap game to get a considerable amount of hours out of, pick up Super Cloudbuilt.
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