I love Cloudberry Kingdom. I also hate Cloudberry Kingdom. I haven’t felt such a conflicting range of emotions while playing a game in quite awhile, and Cloudberry Kingdom does its best to evoke those feelings about… uh.. every seven seconds or so. You’ll hurl profanities at your TV with every failure, yet bask in the glory of every success story. Cloudberry Kingdom harkens me back to the days of yore when gaming was just about quick, simple, and frustratingly difficult sessions.
This title offers an almost endless supply of short, randomly generated levels constructed through a set of algorithms. Pwnee Studios, the developers, ensured through these algorithms that no matter how intimidating or impossible a level may seem, it can be beaten. Some levels are simple, and some are downright scary, but they all follow along the same trajectory by throwing a variety of obstacles (consisting of swinging pendulums that may or may not hurt you, disappearing blocks, creatures to stomp on, etc) in your way. To beat these levels, you’re going to need unwavering patience, an uncanny sense of timing and straight up luck.
The game offers a few modes of note: Arcade, Story & Free Play. Arcade is a typical challenge mode, where you try to complete as many levels as you can with a certain number of lives. You’ll be able to get more lives as you collect more gems. Along the way, you’ll unlock new characters with their own special abilities to help (and sometimes hinder) your experience.
The story mode is similar, except you have the benefit of having an unlimited number of lives, which is definitely something you take advantage of about 20 levels in. It starts off easy… almost too easy, like it’s lulling you into a false sense of security. “Oh this game isn’t too bad,” you’ll say with a smirk on your face… until you start dying with increased regularity. What was once a look of confidence quickly turns into bewilderment and tears. But it’s so addictive. The addiction is a gift and a curse. This game cultivates a “Sure, I’ll try one more time” sense of attitude much too often until you realize you’ve been playing for longer than you expected, and you end up disappointing the loved ones in your life when you show up to functions an hour (or more) late. Oh and by the way, the character you’re playing is voiced by Kevin Sorbo. This may or may not affect your decision to play this game depending on how you feel about him.
Free Play Mode lets you dictate the terms of your sanity by playing around with a variety of settings. You can alter pretty much every aspect of the game, giving a revealing look behind the curtain on how the game was constructed. You can change the basic settings, such as difficulty, level type and level length, but there are also smaller details to mess around with, including the gravitational pull on your character, or the length that they can jump. It can get pretty intense.
It should be noted that there is a multiplayer mode included, which can get pretty chaotic and rage-inducing. You’re essentially chained up to your allies as you try to complete a level together, relying strictly on your sense of timing and trust in each other, which is easier said than done. If you thought the game was difficult with one person, it can probably sever some good relationships you cherish in your life.
The game is great, but it has to have some flaws right? You’ll note, despite how addictive the experience is, that the game is a bit draining in terms of repetitiveness. The levels are all very similar, offering only very minimal changes on top of the ridiculousness of the obstacles. The graphics work within the confines of what this game is trying to achieve, but I would have loved to see more creativity in the level designs, it’s too basic. My only other issue is that this title is very bare-bones and thin on modes, which makes sense given the price, but it lacks the replayability and variety seen in other platformers (namely Super Meat Boy).
Are you a glutton for punishment and looking for your self-confidence and ego to be shattered within a matter of seconds? Check this game out. I had a blast playing it and I highly recommend it to those souls brave enough to try it.