(Image credit: Future)
Plus our selected team Game of the Year Awards 2020, Every member of the PC Gamer team picks one of their favorite games of the year. We’ll be posting new character picks, along with major rewards, throughout the remainder of the month.
CloudpunkI have been delighted to watch this transformation. The edition launched in April was awesome – a cyberpunk excursion that saw you explore the wretched city of Nevalis in your flying car and on foot. Huge voxel towers rip up clouds below you; Walkways full of street vendors, merchants, and corporate security; Everywhere you seem something striking and unusual. It’s a game that you can finish in 10 hours, but one that invites you to explore for days. Weeks.
If developer Ion Lands left it that way, I might still be writing about Cloudpunk here. I’m still talking about Rainia, the rare cyberpunk heroine who never dies of mockery, and she’s awesome because she doesn’t try to be at all. Of course, I will never forget Camus, her constant companion. He was an AI dog in a previous life, and he’s now a car. He is the best boy. The couple meets many amazing people during their first night at work, and through them Cloudbank explores beyond humanity, terrorism, AI rights and all sorts of topics, both speculative and relevant now.
Cloudpunk is dense with building a world, but not awash in it. Nivalis itself is huge and old, and that kind of thing you can’t really You know, but you’ll understand her well, and the larger world around her, just by driving. In a few hours, you’ll have the kind of strong sense of where a lot of games fail to produce after 50 hours. And just like us, Rainia is a newcomer to town, and she encounters her antics for the first time. It does not just accept that “this is the case.” She’s shocked a lot by it, but she’s also very critical. It’s an incredible place that also happens to be very stressful and broken.
Well, it was just cool. Then the first person pose appeared, initially for sections on the feet. Previously, it was offered alongside a still camera, and while being able to explore the city outside of the car was very welcome, I always found myself in the agony of getting back into my boxy and tumbling car. The first person put it on right away. Wandering became a delight. The magic must have been involved. The game wasn’t designed with first-person perspective in mind, but it performs very well. Now I can’t imagine playing it any other way. It took Ion Lands only a month to implement. Like I said: magic.
Viewing the city up close lets you really enjoy the impressive voxel art and the many little details that were hard to pick out when I kept you at a distance. It’s much bigger, scary and lively, yet intimate at the same time. An unlocked third-person camera has also been added, the latest being the first person driving mode, allowing you to experience the entire game from Rainia’s eyes. It’s the best way to see the city, but I’m totally fond of the interior of my car, which includes a decorative display that places the fuel meter, bank balance, miniature map and other useful details on the dashboard.
Cloudpunk could have allowed me to fly my car around an exotic city in the distant future, and I would have felt totally satisfied, but it drove me with its interesting and relaxed story and then jumped to the top of my favorite game list thanks to the extra attention it received from Ion Lands. Coming back again to take some screenshots, I was reminded of how tempting Nivalis is, and while the story is behind me, I don’t think I’ve completely finished being a tourist.