- Developer: Ion Lands
- Publisher: Merge Games
- Price: £19.99 / $24.99
- Release Date: 15/10/2020
- Review code provided by Merge Games
Introducing: Cloudpunk Switch Review
Cloudpunk finally crash lands onto Nintendo’s hybrid console. Explore the vast immersive city of Nivalis, a futuristic neon filled pixelated dystopian metropolis that oozes 80s pop culture. Cloudpunk tells the story of Rania, the protagonist’s first day of work being a delivery driver. After fleeing her hometown Rania needs to make a living if she is going to survive the fast paced ever evolving city, let alone the night. There is a dark sinister side to Nivalis than meets the eye, can you uncover the secrets before it is too late?
The game has an abrupt start with no intro or cut scene, dropping you straight in to the hustle and bustle of Little China in Midtown. Here you get to learn how to drive the HOVA, the aptly named flying vehicle in a short tutorial. Once finished you are free to cruise the open road and start your first assignment of the evening. Whilst you are navigating to Cloudpunk’s HQ by following the on screen map you start to get a sense of the sheer size of the open world Ion Lands have created.
Our Crew Is Replaceable, Your Package Isn’t!
Due to the switch’s limited power the visuals and performance does suffer slightly especially in handheld mode compared to that of other formats and it might not be the best experience on offer. The visuals are muddy with noticeable texture pop-in and the game does freeze regularly as it struggles to keep up especially in busy areas with lots going on. But if your main or only console is the switch and you can look past these issues Cloudpunk is a pretty solid game. Offering gripping storytelling which is complemented by voiced actors adding depth to character development. The narrative is full of emotion pulling you in from the get go and before you know it you can’t put the game down.
The game play can feel stale rather quickly due to the repetitive mission structure. The appeal of driving from A to B dropping off packages in a futuristic city pretending to be Planet Express does wear off quicker than you think. If it wasn’t for the impressive landscape to take your mind off reaching the destination and side missions to mix it up a bit thrown in with the compelling narrative the 10 hour campaign would have been a job in it’s self. I feel Ion Lands objectives for Cloudpunk were to create a game that would immerse the player into a living and breathing virtual ecosystem, but unfortunately due to the linear game play it fails to achieve this, giving the player no reason to return to Nivalis once the main story line is completed. Which is a shame, hopefully future DLC can breathe a new lease of life into the series.
Further in the game you are given an apartment in which you can go back to at any time, with a few missions that require you to head back to your room. But, there isn’t much incentive to visit other than to spend in game currency on ornaments to decorate and personalize your small space of Nivalis. Other than to have a look at your worldly goods it serves no purpose. You can also spend your hard earned cash on pimping up your Hova, but if I could give one piece of advice save your money to repair your hover car and for fuel.
All Those Moments Will Be Lost In Time, Like Tears In Rain. Time To Die
By adding depth to the Cloudpunk story there are times throughout the game where it will get you to choose an outcome depending on your moral compass, but other than narrative I don’t think it changes the outcome of the overall tale. As mentioned before the open world game feels huge thanks to the Bladerunner-esque environment having the ability to move vertically you can explore the underbelly of the city or travel to the dizzy heights and mingle with the wealthiest residents. The sense of free roaming can feel restrictive though when travelling on foot as you can only land in designated parking zones and wonder the pedestrianized areas which can appear on the small side with very little to explore.
The controls are easy to pick both on foot and driving, you will be whizzing up the highway in no time. Cloudpunk is predominantly in 3rd person but you can change the camera view on foot but weirdly you are not able to change it when driving. Hopefully the switch will soon get the cockpit view update the PC version recently received.
The in-game menu is limited, containing the controller buttons and general options you can also bring up your inventory and map by pressing the D-pad. There is also an smaller map on screen which also displays your next objective. The soundtrack is what you would expect, filled with synth sounds that tries to encapsulate a futuristic atmosphere but feels like it has come straight out of the 80’s.
Ion Lands have created a genuinely unique experience that was a pleasure to play from start to finish, the story line and narrative was gripping keeping the player engaged throughout the main campaign. The expansive open world of Nivalis is an impressive feat especially for an indie developer. Driving around in your Hova you immediately appreciate the hard work that has gone into creating the game. Even though the Switch may not be the best format to play the game due to performance limitations it is playable, hopefully the issues can be ironed out in future updates. Cloudpunk is far from perfect but the futuristic delivery service simulator is fun, charming and compelling.
- Voiced actors and a well written story line
- Huge open world to explore
- Unique experience
- Performance issues
- Game play is simple and can feel repetitive
- Limited interactions can leave the open world feeling empty
Cloudpunk is one of 2020’s biggest and most important indie releases. Ion Lands have achieved something quite rare by combining a thought provoking story line with a huge open world to explore. The Futuristic neon filled city of Nivalis is dark and gritty but also a beautiful place to spend your spare time.