It’s the year 2020, and we, as a species, still don’t have flying cars. Back to the Future Part II lied to us about them and hoverboards. But where reality and movies failed us, video games, at least, can give players the experience of sky traversal. Cloudpunk is one of those titles. Mixing voxels, Blade Runner, and Grand Theft Auto, the indie game lets gamers zip around the heavens making deliveries to various clients.
I would take a job carrying parcels just to drive a flying car
In the adventure, players take on the role of Rania. It’s her first day working for the company Cloudpunk in the city of Nivalis. The organization isn’t exactly 100% legal, as it has its workers drop off suspect packages to different customers. Rania’s predecessor lasted one day working for Cloudpunk, while that person’s precursor was employed for 14 years. The adventure takes place during one day’s time, so players won’t get to see if Rania continues her service (though I imagine the ending will answer that question).
The PAX East 2020 demo did not have a time limit, so I played a fair bit of Cloudpunk. Nivalis is massive, and developer Ion Lands decided to condense it using various sectors, which cuts down on load times. The game has a helpful compass that displays diverse points of interest, as well.
Mostly, I flew around in a relaxing environment of endless rain. I listened to both a dispatcher and a dog A.I. on my communications device. Additionally, I made some questionable deliveries (one ended up revealing a tragic tale between the customer and his dead parents), with my last run resulting in a bomb dropoff where I could choose to follow orders or make my own decisions. I’m sure there will be more of these options in the end product.
Cloudpunk offers a great degree of freedom flying around. It’s not like the PS2 title Jak II, where you could only fly between two planes (air or ground). There are multiple heights your car can reach, and you can steer clear of traffic if you are a savvy enough driver. Also, parking spots are pretty frequent, and you have to make use of them when you are about to make a trade (Rania looks like a blocky voxel when she exits the vehicle).
Making time for a discussion on Cloudpunk with publisher Merge Games
After playing the sandbox indie for almost an hour, I had a talk with Craig Bleasdale, Product Manager at Merge Games. He mentioned some stuff that wasn’t in the demo but will appear in the final game. Your car is fully customizable, which is great for gamers who spend hours perfecting their creations in titles like Dark Souls. There will be plenty of side missions from both humans and androids in which Rania can partake. Crashing into buildings and other automobiles will cause damage to your ride, and you’ll need to visit a repair shop to fix it. And while I didn’t see a health bar for Rania, there was an option to buy food.
I came away from Cloudpunk with a good impression. Granted, some of the delivery points felt too far away from the main HQ, but driving an aircar was relaxing, all the same (I hope gamers can add a turbo to the machine, though). The missions look like they ramp up in seediness, too. I was left highly invested in Rania’s story and how it will progress. Furthermore, the voice acting is topnotch, giving weight to the plot and keeping the player engaged.
Cloudpunk is aiming for release on Switch later this year. For more information on the game, check out its webpage. Have fun among the clouds!