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Cloud Chasers review: immigration isn't simple, and neither is this game
Immigration is a hot topic across the globe, but it’s especially important for many of us in the USA. Living in San Diego, CA, I find myself in close contact to the Tijuana, BC border (often literally). Over here, immigration is not only your daily cup of tea, but you can literally see it, feel it and sometimes even taste it.
When I first heard of Cloud Chasers: Journey of Hope and what it was all about, I simply knew I had to try it out and take care of this review. And so I paid my $4 and started traveling to through the desert. I have been playing it for a while and am ready to give you my thoughts on the game, but I will give you one spoiler before we begin – I was never actually able to beat the game. As I said in the title: immigration is not simple, and neither is this game.
The story is quite simple, but oh so complicated at the same time. Amelia and Francisco take on a quest for a better life after Gertrude (mother and wife) dies. Their mission is to find those cities above the clouds, where the privileged reside. You will find yourself incessantly walking through the dessert with limited supplies and death watching your every step.
So that’s the simple side of the story; now we have to focus on the more complicated part. Well, at least it’s hard to narrate, because the story will change and develop itself in different ways to all of us. As you progress through the game, you will find items and meet people that reveal personal details about your own trek. You may run into some special circumstances, be attacked, get sick or even find friends (or enemies) along the way.
It all depends on your decisions. And sadly, I am afraid I can’t really tell you how the story ends. As I have already mentioned, the game is so hard that I was never actually able to finish it. This was a bit frustrating at times, but I think it represents the struggles that many migrants have to go through. It also makes the game that much more challenging. Who likes an easy game, after all?
I know what you are thinking: “wait, how could you not have finished the game?”. You know how life doesn’t give you second chances? Neither does Cloud Chasers. Once you die, you have to start from the beginning. There’s no saving here, which makes the game much more interesting (and very unforgiving).
The concept is rather simple. You are going through a desert and must survive at all costs. There’s a plethora of factors to consider during your quest, but generally you have to worry more about two things: your health and water levels. As long as you keep those two in check you should be fine. That is exactly the problem, though. There’s no stores or water fountains in the desert, which make water and food very hard to come by.
The key element is water, which you run out of if you walk, or if you just stand there. How do you get it? Well, You may have noticed Francisco is always dragging around a Steampunk-styled contraption. That is actually a glider, which has a bag of sorts that will allow Amelia to collect water from clouds while soaring through the skies.
The addition of the glider arcade mini-game is very odd when compared to the rest of the game, but I do feel it balances the mood pretty well. Riding around in a glider keeps things light and fun, while the more grim mood the rest of the game provides makes the experience a bit more serious.
By the way, this is what you will be doing most of the time. Water runs out quickly, so you better get to those clouds and collect water every single chance you get. Literally, every single one. You will regret it if you just let a cloud go by thinking you have enough water.
There’s other challenges in the way. You will be able to examine locations, which will appear in different shapes throughout the map. Some are caves, some are vehicles, others are small houses and some can be camp sites. Each of these will have its own story and outcome. You could run into some friendly people who will offer you water. It’s also possible to find goods you will need to improve your health or fix the glider. Or maybe you are not as lucky and a group of people attack you to take your things. And pray you won’t get injured or sick.
There are other things trying to stop you. Some towers will shoot you while you are trying to get water. And then there are water collecting machines, both large and small. You are pretty much competing against these for the precious elixir of life. Watch out for these, as they can sometimes harm you if you get to close and/or crash into them.
You’ll reach cities in between levels, where players will get the chance to heal up, trade goods and more. Take advantage of them, but remember your resources are limited. Don’t get too happy buying things and making all kinds of upgrades. One time I spent all my water trying to heal up and then died a few steps into the next level. Not good at all.
Graphics and effects
Graphics are much like the game itself – simple, yet very deep. The application has a huge focus on design and aesthetics. It is simply beautiful. Its pastel colors and vibrant hues will engulf your thoughts right into the story. And since the game is relatively slow-paced, you get a lot of time to enjoy the scenery.
Surely, the game is nowhere close to looking realistic or high tech, but it does a great job at creating a captivating image to enjoy and sometimes appreciate with a bit of sadness. But it’s not a cartoon style that is bright and dandy, the colors and effects have a dirty effect that really mirrors the game’s aura. It is entertaining and challenging, yet it has a dark side that you don’t see in many other titles.
In terms of app performance, I never noticed a single hiccup or bug. And in terms of app design, you really can’t do much better. This application is beautiful, even if all the commands can be a bit confusing at times, as some of the buttons seem like ancient hieroglyphs.
Would I recommend Cloud Chasers? It’s $4, so I know it’s not an easy decision, and the answer depends on your preferences. Those looking for an action-packed, fast-paced game will probably not be too fond of it. I grew up playing RPG titles, back in the days when we video games had no voice; we had to read all the script!
If you are like me, you will enjoy the deep story, full of emotion and a personal touch that will really get you to meet these characters in a more personal level. Failing will sadden you just a bit, especially after going through so much with Francisco and Amelia. And if you ever make it to the promised land of opportunity, your accomplishment will be that much more heart-felt.
Cloud Chasers is an immersive experience in which every single one of your decisions makes a difference. This is no linear game that anyone can be successful at. It’s raw, it’s hard, and it will have you playing for hours on end.
To summarize: I would recommend the hell out of it. But only if emotional, difficult, psychological content is your thing. If you are the type who really wants to just lighten up and play some casual games, you are probably best away from the dangerous desert.