Clouds Below Information and Review; A Beautifully Designed Puzzle Game
Clouds Below is a puzzle solving game in the Alpha Prototype phase that I decided to pick up based on the graphics resembling that of Legend of Zelda. After playing it for a while, I can say it is nothing like Zelda in plot; where the main plot in Clouds Below is flying and solving the eccentric puzzles.
The gameplay featured in Clouds Below is quite straight-forward. It features the main character as having the power to move wind, which has a significant impact within the game. When you're learning how to move objects and interact with objects around you that are stationary, a little sign appears on the screen telling you what buttons to press. While the game is designed for console controllers such as the Xbox and PS3, I used my Logitech Gamepad F310 without much difficulty.
While the game is designed to be puzzle solving and a bit exploration, it may seem kind of simple and boring, but it was a wonderful experience. Many games that come out on the PC are extremely intricate in their platform use; with how much effort you have to put forth. Even LEGO games made for young children can be complex, so a game that is as straightforward as Clouds Below is a welcomed refresher.
Clouds Below might be a simple-esque game, but you have to think about your surroundings at all times. Once you get into a spot you'll either have to backtrack or move forward if you aim to obtain all objects.
Graphics and Style
One thing that drew me into Clouds Below was the graphic style. Despite the fact it is a very animated, the coloring is not overbearing and it is pleasing to the eye. My initial response to Clouds Below is that the styles blended together Legend of Zelda Wind Waker and Skyward Sword.
In Wind Waker it is known there are many islands that you move around to, and in Skyward Sword you occasionally fly on the Loftwings, which resembles the flying mechanism in this game from the third person view. In addition, Wind Waker includes bird-like humanoids that have the ability to fly like the character in Clouds Below.
Being the huge Zelda fan I am, I really appreciate the similarities between the three games. But I do also recognize that Clouds Below is a completely different genre of game, and focuses heavily on puzzle solving while Zelda focuses more on fighting foes.
I was incredibly impressed by the amount of scenery that Clouds Below has, so I decided to reach out to their dev team, Tree of Life, to figure out how they created such a beautiful game. One thing a representative from Tree of Life divulged to me is that four of the five members are actually graphic design students; which explains how this game came to look so appealing. Through a fascination with the sky and flying, the team came up with the aesthetics that make up the game.
"So, Clouds Below was a proof-of-concept we created to see the potential of a game with a strong focus on beautiful environments and minimal mechanics. The aesthetics were very important to us, probably rooted in the fact that 4 of the 5 of us are graphics students, and we wanted to make sure that we created an overall calm and enjoyable experience for the players. Like most humans, Alex, our Creative Director and me also shared a fascination of the sky, the adventurous yet calming feel of the wind and the ability to fly freely and explore. I think this is where the original idea spawned from, along with common inspirations from games we grew up with and still love to this day." - Sky, Lead Designer, Tree of Life
Itch.io where Clouds Below can be found also gives more information on the five guys that incorporate this amazing team.
System requirements and how it ran
When playing Clouds Below on my laptop it didn't run completely the best, since my laptop has an integrated graphics card, and a lower processor than what the developers, Tree of Life recommends. It did work with the controller very well, but it was a bit laggy when rendering the landscape around the main character. Since that was the main issue I used someone's desktop and re-played it so I could enjoy how well the game runs. Below is the recommended requirements, and what Clouds Below was developed to run on.
- Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-3740QM CPU @ 2.70GHz (8 CPUs), 2.7GHz
- Memory: 8192MB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia 680m
- Hard Drive: 2.5 GB Free at least.
If there was one thing I'd change in this game, it would be the system requirements, so everyone would have the chance to play Clouds Below without forming their opinion based on how slow it ran on their system.
Final Result on Game
I have to admit, for a puzzle solving game that is only in the Alpha phase and uses wind abilities to move objects around I think it's quite a catch. I really hope Tree of Life continues to develop Clouds Below, and other games as well. If you want to pick it up yourself, it's free through their itch.io, which also accepts donations. I highly recommend it to anyone who has young gamers, and also enjoys casually playing a game where the end goal isn't to slaughter; but to enjoy some brain teasers in a world that is beautiful.