Primed, and (mostly) ready to platform
I’ll be honest with you; right off the bat, I wasn’t sure exactly how much I was going to like Cloudbase Prime. While I could play most platformers for days, first-person 3D platforming games have never exactly been “my thing”. It always feels like the fact that you have to look around while you’re doing things is less of a “feature”, and more of an added frustration. That’s my opinion, though. Just because I don’t personally enjoy something doesn’t mean that I can’t concede to it being objectively good.
So, I did my best to enter the game without any pre-conceived notions. And hey, it actually turned out to be better than I expected! The controls were sharp, there was a decent amount of variance between levels, and it featured a gameplay mechanic that wasn’t entirely like any that I had seen before. Still, it wasn’t without its flaws. Despite enjoying a lot of what Cloudbase Prime had to offer, I felt like it was lacking in a few key areas. That’s what early game builds are about though – to examine all aspects of a game in development, both the good and the bad. And that’s exactly what we’ll be doing today!
Cloudbase Prime starts off with you landing on a large gas mining facility known as G35. As a new robot pilot, the player is in the middle of being given the runaround by what I assume is the robot that they are controlling (It never actually gave you a clear answer) when they notice that other robots around the facility have begun to go haywire – stopping their work, and shifting their focus on destroying the facility and you. Sheesh, talk about insubordination!
From there, the story gets a little hard to follow. You essentially end up running around different parts of G35 for a while, collecting small robots known as “Fixbots” in order to have them repair a cannon that somehow shoots you all the way to the next part of the facility. And things get even weirder when the facility collapses, sending you spiraling down to a different planet which still seems to show some signs of life. Well, plant life at least. Everything else is a robot still.
Currently, Cloudbase Prime is in Beta. Because of that, I’m not going to discredit its story too much. I assumed that what I saw was more of a “sample platter”, showing how the story would be set up. I’m totally fine with that. What I’m not fine with, is the game’s writing. The overarching narrative of Cloudbase Prime isn’t bad at all. What bothers me specifically is the dialogue. It felt very, I don’t know, “early 2000s Adult Swim”. There was always a bit too much talking, and the conversations were dragged out by a number of unfunny jokes and comments. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. Regardless, I can’t not say something when a game’s writing makes me actively frown.
Cloudbase Prime is a 3D platformer, and largely functions the same way that most 3D platformers would. And it does its job just fine in that aspect. There is a catch, however! Much of the game’s terrain is set up in a way that would make normal platforming impossible. Ledges are often too high. Platforms are often too far away. So, what do you do about that? The answer’s a simple one – you change the terrain! The robot that you pilot comes equipped with the handy ability to raise and lower terrain, and it’s your duty as the player to take full advantage of this.
It’s a little more involved than just raising or lowering the land that you’re on to help you progress, however. Whenever you raise land that you’re standing on, you’re launched up into the air. While this feature starts as nothing more than a way to cross over small gaps, it becomes more important later on. Levels become more broken as you progress, and eventually it gets to a point when you’re spending more time on the air than on the ground. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s kind of fun after a while.
Different worlds also add in different gimmicks. Some levels may have you sliding down rails, while others have you swimming around what appear to be giant fishbowls. You even get a grappling hook after a while! Neat, huh? And, even better, each gimmick works pretty well. I found that some of them, like the aforementioned swimming, made gameplay a lot less challenging, but it’s still cool that Floating Island Games added variety to their levels.
Most of Cloudbase Prime‘s gameplay is centered around collecting each of the Fixbots in a given level, and proceeding to the exit. Which, in this case, would be a large cannon. But that isn’t all that this game has to offer! In a style reminiscent of Super Mario 64, players can replay certain levels to acquire even more Fixbots. Rather than being sent on another collect-a-thon however, these “bonus levels” have varying objectives.
The Beta featured two alternate objectives. The first was a Score Attack, requiring that you take down hordes of enemy robots in order to build up your score. If you hit the target score before time runs out, the Fixbot was yours! Simple, right?
The second mode, titled “Food Chain”, set up the level like a tower defense game of sorts. Your goal was to protect small rabbit robots as they carried food to a large robot known as the “Collector”. After eating enough, the Collector would then fire a laser beam at the enemy base in the sky (who is constantly spawning enemy robots, might I add), allowing you to attack it. Once it was destroyed, you won! As easy to understand as the concept is, its execution didn’t feel quite as polished a I would have liked. The entire process felt lengthy to the point of being boring, and it was easy for the rabbits to get stuck. Still, it was cool overall.
A Work in Progress
Cloudbase Prime isn’t quite up to snuff in some aspects, but I still think that it has the potential to turn out nicely in the end. Its land manipulation gimmick was both easy to understand and well-implemented, and I enjoyed my experience with it overall. And as much as I’m personally not fond of the writing, I have the feeling that plenty of other people will be. So yes, Cloudbase Prime is a definite work in progress – but it’s one that holds promise.