Developer: Pwnee Studios
Platform: PlayStation 3 (PSN),
Xbox 360 (XBLA), Wii U (eShop), Steam
Release Date: Out Now
ESRB: T for Teen
This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game, in which a download code was provided by the publisher
Difficult platformers seem to be all the rage in the indie scene nowadays - so much so that the market seems to be overflowing with them. Sure, there are titles that are easily recognizable, but for every Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV, there are countless more hardcore platformers that fail to really stand out. Cloudberry Kingdom tries to impress with an interesting asthetic (in the cutscenes, at least) and procedurally developed levels, but does it manage to make a name for itself, or will it get lost in the platformer shuffle?
In the first few minutes of the game's Story Mode, Cloudberry Kingdom looks very impressive. You're introduced to the washed-up old hero Bob and the wizard-like villian in an appealing paper-craft like style. It really looks great... but it's unfortunate that this style only applies to cutscenes. These scenes don't happen very often, and for the rest of the story adventure you'll be treated to an asthetic style that's honestly rather bland, which is really quite a disappointment.
However, for the fan of difficult platformers, graphics and art styles don't really matter as long as you can see the obstacles ahead of you (and they are quite viable in this game), so let's talk more about the gameplay. In Story Mode, the basics are introduced to you very quickly: You learn to run and jump, the game's physics, and not to run into pointy objects very quickly. Cloudberry Kingdom is not one to start in the deep end; the beginning levels aren't too difficult, but they are also not completely holding your hand. This is a welcome relief for those who become tired of these type of games throwing everything at you in the first five minutes.
After you just start to get used to Bob's physics, though, something changes. Every 10 levels or so (and it becomes more spread out as the game progresses), Bob unlocks a new form of sorts that you have to get used to. These forms can come in any number of forms, such as a double jumping Bob, a Bob with a Jetpack, or even a gravity swtiching Bob. It's up to you to learn how to survive with these new forms in mind (and sometimes even learn when you've switched forms), and becomes essential to your progression in the Story Mode.
But, the Story Mode feels mostly like a tutorial for the main game--the Arcade Mode. It's here that the game and its components really get to shine, with various game modes and ways to play. Arcade Mode starts with only one mode and one version of Bob available, and you have to earn the rest by increasing your Player Level. Getting through one level in an Arcade mode increases your level by one, so it's not difficult to increase the level and unlock new stuff quickly. By doing so, you'll unlock more modes to play through as well as the other versions of Bob you got a taste of in Story Mode.
The process makes it pretty rewarding to get better at Cloudberry Kingdom, and try to unlock more new modes. The modes themselves are pretty fun, and range from a typical straight run with limited lives, to a strictly timed run (only 15 seconds per stage!), and are just flat out fun to play through.
Finally, there's the Free Play mode, which allow you to plug in certain parameters (such as length, difficulty, and so on) and have the game randomly generate a level for you. This is pretty cool for platformer enthusiasts, but most will find that the Arcade and Story modes will give you plenty of content before they get tired of the game.
The final verdict on Cloudberry Kingdom? It's not a bad game, but at the same time it's not particulary great either. The beginning difficulty and some other little touches make the title more user friendly than other games of its ilk, but unfortunately the game doesn't really stand out in any other way.
by Jason Clement
I'll be honest here - Cloudberry Kingdom looked somewhat underwhelming to me from the get-go, but thank goodness for the old adage - "Don't judge a book by its cover" - because that's almost what I did with this game. Admittedly, games that are super challenging to the point of being impossible (like I Wanna Be The Guy) never held an appeal to me, and that's what I was afraid this game would be, but thankfully I was wrong (at least partially).
Cloudberry Kingdom makes use of randomly generated levels that scale and change according to the player's skill level. This isn't new tech, but it is fairly groundbreaking for platformers and enough to give this game an edge to compete with other indie platformers. As a simple run-and-jump game, it's unremarkable yet strangely addictive, especially in later levels when it becomes all about recognizing patterns and executing a path through highly treacherous obstacles to reach the goal.
While the game's visuals and aesthetic style won't win any awards, I did enjoy the papercraft look the game's cutscenes take on as you progress through the story; it's a shame that they were far and few between. And the story is an interesting take on the damsel in distress trope with an interesting twist; suffice it to say that the game never takes itself too seriously for its own good.
In all, I was pleasantly surprised with Cloudberry Kingdom. Like Gaia mentioned in her review, it isn't a game that I'd necessarily consider to be "great," but I can say it's a fairly good, solid game after spending quite a bit of time with it. I'd especially recommend it if you're interested in unique and challenging platformers.
+ The game eases you into the difficulty
+ Arcade Mode is a lot of fun to play casually
- Story Mode drags on for longer than you would want
- Stale visuals are a disappointment compared to the cutscenes
- Some versions of Bob are less fun than others to play
Overall Score: 6.0 (out of 10)
Second Opinion Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
Randomly generated levels or not, Cloudberry Kingdom doesn't do enough different to really help it stand out in the indie platformer crowd.