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Cloudberry Kingdom is a procedurally-generated platforming game with a twist

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 7, 2013
Cloudberry Kingdom, the debut game from Pwnee Studios, is a strong effort that unfortunately falls prey to the main flaw of procedurally-generated content—recognizable algorithmic patterns of behavior. Once the puzzle is solved, there's little reason to return.

Unfortunately familiarity breeds, if not contempt, then certainly ennui. Cloudberry Kingdom is at its most effective in the first few hours, because you haven't gotten deep enough to see the flaws.

As addictive as Cloudberry Kingdom is, the levels tend to follow specific patterns. The more you complete, the more you notice that the timing on each level is oddly...similar. It might vary by a pause here and there, but by-and-large you can complete most sequences with the same exact methods.

I don't want to spoil it here, in case you're planning to play. There's still a lot of fun to be had with Cloudberry Kingdom--I put in seven hours, including one marathon stretch that saw the sun come up outside my window before I managed to convince myself to break the cycle, close the game, and go to bed--but once you've spotted the pattern it takes a lot of the "puzzle" aspect out. At that point, it's just another difficult platformer.

Bottom line
Cloudberry Kingdom is a fascinating puzzle box to pull apart. I had a ton of fun cranking the difficulty up to maximum, generating the most insane levels I could, then watching the computer solve its own problem, rendering order where humans can only perceive chaos.

Once you've glimpsed the pattern in the algorithm, however, the game loses some of its luster. The platforming is solid, and the four-player local multiplayer is a great (though chaotic) addition. However, this game doesn't offer the challenge of Super Meat Boy, nor the same amount of variety. You're basically playing variations on a single level theme, over and over.

On the other hand, I did play it until the sun came up outside my window. Despite the game's flaws, something kept pulling me back in. Maybe it was the stop-motion cutscenes, or the pick-up-and-play mindlessness of it all. Maybe it was Kevin Sorbo's voice.

Regardless, Cloudberry Kingdom is a strong effort and a solid little platformer, even if it doesn't quite match the best in its genre.

 

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