Cloudpunk Xbox One Review

October 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: Merge Games  Developer: ION LANDS  Genre: Adventure

Players:Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4, Switch

Cloudpunk takes place in the futuristic city of Nivalus over one single eventful night, and not only is it an endlessly rainy night in this advanced Metropolis, but this city is also one of the best characters that features in this likeable and fascinating cyberpunk adventure. 

Taking control of Rania, it’s her first night on the job as a Cloudpunk delivery driver. Cloudpunk are a semi-legal service that pretty much delivers anything and everything, and you get this impression early on in the game when you are tasked with delivering a package that sounds very much like a bomb. 

Not only does Cloudpunk have you delivering questionable packages though, there’s also a number of missions that have you taxiing characters around, and it’s these characters and the storytelling that make up the bulk of the game. Yes, allow me to get straight to the point and inform you that this is not a game to play if you are looking for something to challenge you, as this is a game that is largely about driving (in a hover car, or HOVA, as the game refers to it) and running about on-foot while intriguing stories develop around you. 

Your HOVA can be upgraded. You’ll also have to pay to refuel it, as well as pay for any damage.

You’ll meet people, androids and AI, and there’s some sharp and, oftentimes, witty writing to be found in the script. Rania is an interesting personality whom can be rather sharp and straight to the point in one instance and then very caring in the next. Rania is accompanied by Camus, a once robotic dog whom is now installed in the systems of your vehicle. Camus is a very likeable companion that provides plenty of light relief and insightful support, and the fact that he wants a new body is one of his, and your own, motivations. You also have a mysterious boss whom is simply referred to as “Control,” and there’s plenty of intrigue in regard to the character as he and Rania interact with one another over the course of the game. Rania, Camus and Control are the central characters, although plenty of the supporting cast members add plenty to the game’s narrative as well. One of the characters that quickly comes to mind is android private Eye Huxley, who does his best hard-boiled noir detective impression, narrating his story as opposed to having a normal conversation with anyone. 

As interesting as many of the game’s personalities are, the voice acting is sadly a bit hit and miss. The central cast are all voiced superbly, although some of the performances of the supporting characters leave a little something to be desired. With everything said, when some of the supposed people sound like androids themselves it kinds of ruins the illusion that this is a city populated by people and androids. As a by and large narrative-based game, these below average performances do let the game down somewhat. The memorable synthwave soundtrack fairs a lot better. 

When you aren’t driving around Nivalus, you’ll be parking up and exploring the city outside of your HOVA. During these on-foot sections, you’ll find collectibles and people to speak to, and you’ll also further the story if the current mission calls for it. You can even switch to a first person view when outside your vehicle, if you’d prefer, although it’s odd that the HOVA doesn’t allow for such a view. As for what can be considered more gameplay, you are able to make choices in the story from time to time, including the delivery or disposal of that earlier mentioned bomb. Arguably, there aren’t enough of these decisions to be made, although it does make them feel a bit more impactful because of this.  

The game doesn’t have any racing, although it’s clear that the story was the focal point.

Nivalus is a terrific creation, and it feels busy and alive with hover cars and people. The neon-lit glory of the eternally rainy streets feels both vibrant and dangerous, and it’s quite a sizeable environment as well, that is particularly a joy to fly around. Some areas do feel a little samey, but this futuristic city is still a place that is well worth visiting, and the voxel art just adds to the attraction. It’s just a shame that the frame-rate drops considerably from time to time, which also does some damage to the immersion. 

Despite some big decisions and very occasional timed mission, Cloudpunk is definitely what you could call a very chilled out experience. For some people it may even be too laid back for its own good, but if the intriguing world grabs your attention, then, like a good book or a film, this will surely be more than enough to keep your attention, although inserting you directly into the world and allowing you to interact with it in a way that other mediums just can’t compete with. It’s just a shame that there’s some poor voice acting from some of the characters you meet as well as a rather unstable frame-rate, as both of these things do take you out of what is otherwise a very well-constructed neo-noir world and story, but if you can get past these flaws then Cloudpunk’s Nivalus is a place that is well worth spending over 10 hours of your life with.