• Wed. Aug 17th, 2022

    Any Button Gaming

    AB-Gaming.com

    Cloud Gardens – PC Review (Early Access)

    Noio‘s Cloud Gardens is a relaxing, diorama-style, environmental puzzle game that tasks you with overgrowing the remnants of humanity. This allows the game’s pixelated plants to reclaim the area.

    And to be honest with you, that’s about it.

    The game is a calm experience that you are walked through with simplified controls. Essentially, it involves just using the mouse and left-clicking.

    You can spin the camera, zoom in and out, place items, and harvest the seeds with mere clicks.

    Though pressing Esc does pull up the menu that lets you switch to Sandbox Mode, allowing you to use all the in-game items you’ve unlocked so far. And pressing Space, allows you to access photo mode and take pictures or short videos of your dioramas.

    Those untrustworthy birds on a flyby. I’ve got my regular eye on you fellas

    Click-pocalypse

    There are several different types of plants you can place in Cloud Gardens. Each will grow differently and have various impacts based on your composition.

    Harvesting the buds will net you seeds that accumulate towards receiving another plant to place and grow your hoard of wild barbarians. Some dangle well, some grow from the ground, and some you won’t use as you don’t like the look of them. That’s just the way it is in Cloudaverse.

    Cloud Gardens does have inherent puzzle elements as placing refuse around the plants causes them to grow. I know it sounds strange as rubbish can have the opposite effect in the non-simulation world. But that’s the mechanic we’re working with.

    You may have to reset the level at times to rearrange your garden/heap of randomly selected items. That’s part of the challenge; finding the right composition to help fill your progress bar so you can proceed to the next level.

    Plant-growing-refuse includes smaller items, like binbags, bottles, and tyres. This is quickly stepped up to large bases for your plants to overrun.

    When I first started, I was forced to reset the level a couple of times as I had screwed up my composition. The plants just weren’t taking over in the way I needed. This quickly made me learn the most effective way to place my trash items and encourage organic growth. And who doesn’t love a bit of organic growth?

    I warned them not to park there, but did they listen?

    The Sound of Seedlings

    I was impressed at the musical score of Cloud Gardens, as it offered a chilled out, relaxing mix of music. The musical score blends well in accompanying the horticultural rearrangement of an assumed apocalypse.

    Cloud Gardens is designed as a game to relax you when you don’t particularly feel like a strenuous gaming experience.

    “Where games like DOOM Eternal go in head-first and blow everything up in a loud cacophony of ear-bleeding metal” (James Wright 2021).

    Cloud Gardens, however, takes the quieter, more relaxing road. It may be the long way round, but the journey is that much better for it.

    What also surprised me was how satisfying it was watching nature reclaiming such disused relics as cars and shopping carts. Even train carriages were recycled and repurposed. And, of course, a myriad of signage that now points the way to, effectively, nowhere.

    This image feels like something of a virtual Rorschach test…and I don’t really want to say what I see…

    The “Friendly” Birds

    Your only companions on this mission of natural warfare against the remnants of humanity will be the birds. They seem to come and go just to keep an eye on you. Like feathered spies sent by…somebody.

    I’m not going to lie; I never trusted the birds and don’t understand why anyone would. I kept assuming the challenge of the game would be to keep them away as they peck at my Virtual RHS Chelsea Flower Show entry.

    The birds did highlight the only bug I saw in Cloud Gardens, which is great for an Early Access title. There was a strange animated glitch with the birds at one point and that was it, no other issues. The developers are setting a great example with a single glitch and numerous updates and patches to improve the game.

    The Biggest Question Remains; Who Am I? Plant God?

    The question that baffled me throughout my time with the game was, “who am I?!”

    Who am I playing as? Am I God? Is there a Plant God? Is it me?

    Would that Plant God then eat the plants he has nurtured and loved to survive?

    What does your character want, bar plants to be on top of the food chain? The food chain he possibility partakes in? And does he get some sick satisfaction out of his role in the cycle of consuming his plant children?

    So many questions, not nearly enough answers. I guess I’ll just continue this possible plant cult and hope it ends better than Rajneeshpuram.

    True, I may have gone off on a tangent, but Cloud Gardens is something of a short game to review. As such, padding is necessary and it amused me.

    Cloud Gardens is currently out on Steam in Early Access. If you just want to relax and enjoy some light puzzling and compositional gameplay, you’re in the right place.

    *DISCLAIMER*

    Hold your horses though, I do have to add a disclaimer. I didn’t actually enjoy the game that much, as it just isn’t my cup of tea or similar delicious beverage. But objectivity is key.

    Personally, I felt like I was playing a mini-game from an RPG that I would try once and ignore as I save the world. Presumably from a silver-haired antagonist with insane powers, a warped world vision, and who is somehow related to me even though we look markedly different. [I love FF IX]

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    Chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool
    • 6.5/10
      Overall - 6.5/10
    6.5/10

    Summary

    Pros –

    • Relaxing as Hell
    • Calming music
    • Interesting puzzle element
    • Early Access hints at content development

     

    Cons (Mostly personal gripes/gags) –

    • Just not much going on really
    • No player character development
    • Untrustworthy birds
    • Am I Plant God?
    • What sustenance sustains Plant God?
    • How is the area floating?
    • What powers the streets lights?
    • Who’s car is that?
    • What year is it?
    • Ok, I’ll stop

    David Parsons

    Human, friend to the animals and serial procrastinator. Pessimistic Pompey fan and chocolate addict. @Zeus_Eagle on Twitter

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