Remember flying cars from Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, Immortals: War of the Worlds? These futuristic cars, flickering amid rain and neon, have become one of the fetishes without which even one fan of the cyberpunk worlds invented by William Gibson and Philip K. Dick would hardly get excited. And now, finally, a game has come out that gives us the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat of the miracle car, to become the hero of Bruce Willis, who tacked his taxi among the traffic jams in the Fifth Element. More precisely, not a hero, but a heroine.
Yes, in Cloudpunk we play for a girl named Rania, who works for the titular and, of course, illegal delivery service. She had just moved from somewhere in the East to Nivalis – a huge and now the only city inhabited by people on the whole planet. Rania does not just want to gain a foothold here – there is simply no other choice.
Gradually, we learn about her past life. In the heroine’s homeland, where farmers lived and worked, Rania felt nature, ate, as they say, natural products and saw live birds. And here, in a huge city hovering somewhere between heaven and earth (or even the ocean?), Sellers of artificial birds, having learned that the girl had seen a living falcon, drive her away so as not to embarrass buyers. And android merchants offer drugs and stimulants, artificial cherry pies or decaffeinated soda, but with real sugar.
But nowhere to go – the Debt Service is on the heels. Therefore, having sold everything, even the body of her beloved dog (she kept Camus’s mind on a flash drive and transferred it to a computer system, making her a personal assistant), Rania moved to Nivalis. In this huge city, whereby all the laws of cyberpunk there is an upper region, Spire (the richest and most arrogant live there), middle (for the middle class, respectively), as well as slums and Wastelands outside the “zero gates” – there are a few how free and involuntary scum of society survive and sometimes literally freeze.
Working at Cloudpunk, Rania, on her flying HOWA of various models, will visit there, and there, and there. The main thing is to deliver and pick up the packages without asking unnecessary questions …
At first, everything goes that way. We almost silently pick up and deliver packages to the big city, communicating mainly with the nameless dispatcher of Cloudpunk for the time being. But after some time, the evening (or rather, the night) ceases to be languid.
AI, who considers himself to be a god (well, or those around him are sure of this) and hints at us about the future destruction of mankind; hacking; illegal access to restricted data; attempt to arrest the heroine; an unexpectedly salvation from the criminal authority, which you then have to work on, is where a largely classical, but interesting cyberpunk story unfolds.
We also have to make decisions – both local, related to the personal stories of our clients, and important, story-based. At the same time, communication with the dispatcher is becoming increasingly warmer, behind the voice of which is also a person who has survived the tragedy.
The main thing is the people. And androids
It is personal stories – perhaps the most valuable thing that is in Cloudpunk. Even if you carry out only plot orders, not be distracted in parking lots, to run on foot, and chat with someone, Rania will learn a lot of interesting things and will meet a variety of characters with their own problems.
One android chef who sold everything valuable for the sake of moving to Spire and temporarily remained only as an AI on the disk will tell him all the way how glad he is to become a member of “high society”. And in the end, he is waiting for the post of junior assistant for cleaning the premises (simply a cleaner). We will also meet (and even carry out an investigation related to it) a hilarious android detective who talks as if he is voicing a text in some old noir film or reading Raymond Chandler’s novels. “The hearts of the Debt service workers were blacker than the blackest morning coffee …” – “Why are you talking so strangely?” “The lady thought the roof of the best and cheapest detective in Midtown.” It seems that she was not so far from the truth … ”
But in fact, the funny in the life of the inhabitants of the neon-rainy Nivalis is not enough. One day, for example, we will come to a call to a man who is going on a trip to Spire and asks to give all his savings to his family. The dispatcher explains – he knows very well that he will die, but in order to look at the sky with just one eye, he is ready for anything. And Rania has a choice: to take things to her family, as she was asked, or to transfer everything to the Cloudpank warehouse to cover the debts of the customer who has not paid the contract.
Well, if you make stops and not only deliver story orders from point A to point B, but also freely explore a huge, well-designed city, then the number of interesting stories will increase significantly. This is the only way you will meet a crazy elevator, confident that its purpose is not to transport but to devour people. Or meet an engineer trying to save Nivalis from destruction – periodically whole buildings fall here with a screech. And no one will then forbid to return to him to find out what has changed.
Almost the majority of the characters here are androids. Some are asking us to get a dermis that grows temporary skin. Others need punch cards to remember everything. And this is only a small part of the characters that you can meet if you wish.
History and scenery for her
The gameplay in Cloudpunk is not so clear. If only because it is practically absent here – in fact, it is a “walking simulator” (and in this case “flight”), where all the value lies in the plot, dialogs, and characters. You can buy food, water, coffee for Rania, but she does not have the parameters of hunger, thirst, or fatigue. You can repair our HOVA, which is difficult to manage and often crashes, but flying and completing tasks is obtained even on a battered one since it hardly affects its performance characteristics. You can buy Ranya’s clothes and furnish her apartment, adding a game console, a mirror, or, for example, a doghouse to the interior (out of respect for a funny, but now only an electronic dog). However, all this does not affect the gameplay in any way.
Performing tasks, we open access to improvements for cars, which then need to be bought at repair stations – for example, you can put nitro and lateral boosters. But this has little effect on the gameplay – well, perhaps your HOWA will be a little faster and stronger. The ability to change the car at some point and choose a cooler one is also from the sphere of lyrics, aesthetics, and not physics and real influence. The only thing that is really needed here is to refuel the car on time.
Also, many complain about the inconvenient camera and the “tank” control during the pedestrian stages, when after the parking lot we run to look for quest characters, punch cards and various trash for sale. I also had problems with this at first, but in the end, I quickly got used to it – there is nothing criminal here.
Yes, you can approach Cloudpunk from a purely formal, game-jour point of view and blame the game for the lack of mechanics who just asked here and who, for example, were partially implemented in the old-time Scrapland, similar in structure and theme. But then let’s remember what it turned out for the American McGee project and the MercurySteam Entertainment studio, which received mixed reviews due in large part to the gameplay. Cloudpunk
Authorsapparently soberly assessed their strengths and did not want unsuccessfully implemented mechanics to ruin the whole atmosphere and distract us from stories and characters. This, I repeat, is primarily a narrative and very meditative game that takes on its atmosphere. And personally for me, long in love with Blade Runner , this bet played. Yes, the voxel metropolis is largely static, but many memorable characters give a sense of immersion. Even without gameplay crutches and reminders, I wanted to repair a car, periodically feed the heroine, buy her new clothes, furnish her (or rather, our) apartment. Because I believed – this city lives, how a girl named Rania and her dog Camus, who lives in a computer with a low clock frequency, live and try to overcome this unusual night.
Pros:interesting story; smartly implemented and insanely beautiful metropolis, flooded with rain and neon; accompaniment of magical synthwave, sometimes even reminiscent of the soundtrack to Blade Runner from Vangelis ; many memorable characters and their stories, which we sometimes influence with our decisions.
Cons: the gameplay may seem too fat-free; you need to get used to the control and behavior of the camera during pedestrian areas.