Cloud Chamber Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Cloudchamber 2014 07 02 19 45 05 470 1024x576

Cloud Chamber Review



Every once in a while, we gamers witness a title that pushes the limits of what can be defined as a game. Mostly, the discussion about how much these projects are worth boils down to a single argument – it’s not interactive enough. And while games as a medium are much more open than anything else currently on offer, there always has to be a healthy amount of player interaction in the mix to classify the software as a game. To get straight to the point: Cloud Chamber is essentially a high-profile combination of a found footage movie, Internet forum and, well, a game. So you see, it’s sitting right there at the verge, seemingly unsure of its own nature. Truth be told, this project wasn’t originally supposed to be a game, so some of its qualities come to light more prominently than the others might.

Cloud Chamber places you in the role of being yourself, but in an alternative universe where great discoveries are but a small, tiny, miniscule step away from the protagonists at any given time. The main characters were filming a documentary about their exciting find, but something happened. One of them disappeared and the other two seem to believe her father kidnapped her. The players are treated to a minimal amount of information, and the only concrete shards of information we have to work with are the short videos and documents scattered around the strangely rendered user interface.

As you would log into Facebook, or Twitter perhaps, you type in your credentials before being able to enter the strange cosmos this game presents you with. Now, I know that it’s bad to expect something out of a game, but I was really thinking there would be puzzles involved or something like that. That’s not the case, for better or worse – that much is left up to you. Instead, there’s a network of nodes and you have to make sense out of everything that’s on offer here. These nodes represent the shards I mentioned before. Videos, documents, images… things that are more or less relevant to the mystery at hand. You might think that manipulating these files, extracting them and dissecting might be your way to truth. Again, that is not the case. The players merely have the chance to discuss each file with others in hopes of figuring out what the hell happened. Upvotes and pluses are your only tool in Cloud Chamber. So I hope you’re capable of coherent communication because that’s as far as you’re going to get while “playing“ this “game“.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that it’s the only interaction in the entirety of Cloud Chamber. Well, I guess clicking on things is technically also interaction, but come on now. The interface you’ll navigate during your time with this game is interesting but fairly limited in terms of practicality. More often than not I found myself clicking on nodes I already investigated due to the way these are spread out – organically and seemingly at random. So, when there are more than a couple at a single screen, it’s easy to get them all mixed up. Thus, the main interface – that of the game itself is very pretty but also confusing.


Behold the gameplay of the future.

Thankfully, the social part of the game is solid and works as it should, with all the commentary spread neatly before the player. Which is the bare minimum one should expect from Cloud Chamber anyway. As far as UI is concerned, its design is well done and non-intrusive, but somewhat sloppy due to the way the „overworld“ is controlled.

Now, onto the meat of this game – the movies. If there’s one thing I should sing praise to in this entire experience then it’s the way storyline is handled. The acting is masterful and believable, while the characters serve as a great catalyst to the players themselves, transferring information and small bits of intel about their personal lives. There’s a fair number of informative videos too, so expect Cloud Chamber to enrich your knowledge somewhat, at least in the science department. The sci-fi element is also realistically handled, and isn’t as much in-your-face as we gamers are used to. This is mostly a smooth but tense ride with just a couple of really dynamic moments, focused mostly towards the story’s finale. Now, I’d be lying if I said that I figured everything out right after I watched all the videos, so there definitely is need to discuss the given materials. The whole thing is thankfully inviting enough to make you care about its conclusion, too, so if you actually viewed all the movies, read all the documents and took a peek at all the images, you will definitely try to find out whatever you didn’t figure out yourself. Also, some nodes are locked if you aren’t invested in the social part of the game so there’s that.

As far as music is concerned, Cloud Chamber is fitted with a lot of cyberpunk-ish undertones hidden below modern electronic tunes. While wrestling with the main interface, you’ll listen to some pretty great scores that do wonders to set the atmosphere. These nicely switch to their incognito modes while viewing files/videos and leave you with a soothing background music, so that you can focus on the given file in peace.

Finally, it’s difficult for me to recommend Cloud Chamber to just about anybody. If you’re an able conversationalist, like piecing together small pieces of abstract information and are a more… passive gamer, go for it. But if you want a game that will let you actually play a bit, it might be wise to steer away.