Total War Three Kingdoms (Review)
Previous Indie Wednesday: Oxenfree Episode 1
Your name is Rania. This is your first night working for Cloudpunk, the semi-legal delivery company based in the sprawling city of Nivalis. You go everywhere, from the Marrow below to the spires that pierce the grey clouds high above before scraping the edge of the troposphere. No delivery job is too dangerous, and no one is faster than a Cloudpunk driver.
In this story-based exploration game, you will meet a diverse range of characters including androids, AI and unscrupulous humans at every level of society. Everyone has a story, and in the course of one night in Nivalis, everything will change.
Explore an immense vertical cyberpunk city with your hover car and on foot
Unravel mysteries in a world of corporate conspiracy, hackers and rogue AI through the eyes of Rania
Meet a diverse range of characters and immerse yourself in their everyday lives
Your decisions will have a lasting impact on the inhabitants of Nivalis
Discover hidden places and items unlocking additional stories
Cloudpunk was one of those games that I was initially reclutant to play on Steam due to some reasons that I can no longer remember. If Cyberpunk 2077 has been going through some rough patches, this game is perfect to scratch that Cyberpunk itch. It’s a nice, short game. There is an immersive world throughout this city and I am impressed even though there are some issues that I think could be fixed. The story and writing style is consistent enough because the game’s not aiming to be a thorough masterpiece. It’s aiming to give you a one night experience of a delivery driver that gets caught up in a world that quite frankly she shouldn’t be in. Her job is to deliver packages. But what if that shady corporation was using you? That’s what I like the most. The story.
By the end of 11.4 hours, I finally felt relief. No more having to deliver packages. No more headaches of dealing with crazy criminals and rapping androids. No more chugging from one end of the city to the other. That’s one of the few problems with the game. I didn’t like going from one of the city to the other so much because it went from portal to portal. I’d have preferred some of the missions to be in more areas of the city. I have a feeling that a lot of features were scrapped during the final phase of development stage, and that therefore the team went for the story as opposed to just having a world with a few NPCs to talk with. Personally, I felt this was the right decision but it did come at the cost of some tedium.
In addition, some of the main story aspects could have been improved. Control had the best character arc, while Pashta needed more time. Camus was a delightful character to experience, and Camus and Rainia’s relationship I believe will be expanded in the new update. Lomo was disappointing in his character arc, because while he appeared interesting, he didn’t appear as often. I wanted him to question me, to question my motives. I would have expected a guy like him to be more present in the Ventz and the Hollows a lot more, because he’s a criminal, and he would perhaps offer those people from the Ventz and the Hollow’s a new life in Cloudpunk. Huxley was Miller from the Expanse. I could tell that reference easily and what a great easter egg it was. I want more of Huxley if there is a sequel.
The other problem I had is not so much of the game itself, but some of the zones. Granted, there were budget constraints, but say if places like the Ventz, or the Hollows, or Cora’s station clearly had a well designed visual aspect. Each part of this area feels different than to Cloudpunk. Cloudpunk is a utopian paradise compared to them all the other places. But that may be living in the countryside isn’t so bad after all. I think that’s what Rainia must be thinking. In a village, you get to know each other. In a city, with complete strangers around you, you don’t. It takes time in a city as opposed to a village, and the game did communicate that feeling. Rainia’s character arc I think, has a few problems as well. From the start, you encounter her innocence and feel for her. You sympathize with her. But since this is Cyberpunk, a world full of despair and strife, those decisions can make you one of the worst, or one of the best. At times I made decisions that I truly wish I could change. And as a result, she became more arrogant and this is where the problem is. Perhaps budget restraints also showed as well. The update will no doubt bring more story and more multiple characters. I think it will show the areas showing Rainia to be a more sympathetic character in my opinion. And we needed more people like Mr and Mrs Octavious Butler, because they are horrible people (and more horrible people in a genre like this is good) but we also need good people as well (and a bit more of them).
What the game does need is an overhaul in the worldbuilding: More customizable loots, more customizable items for your apartment, maybe even buy an agreement to buy your apartment. Multi-coloured trains inspired from the real world, TGV or something. More cutomizable items for your car. Obviously, I’d want more improvements in decision making. There aren’t many difficult choices for Rainia to have dilemmas and there’s always an easy option as opposed to a difficult option. That is currently impacting her character ARC, so if she went from being good and great in one choice after a delivery, she then goes bad and not so good in the other. There’s not enough content in the middle that is justifying some of the decisions. For example, the Andersons mission arc is well done. It has a good choice, and it is in my opinion, not too hard to make. But I’d have wanted more of a choice there. The androids in this city can talk, and I’d have wanted a separate zone where Androids rebel, where they say that they have their own city, a utopian paradise but where humans aren’t given equal rights, and CEOs and criminals like Lomo send humans over there that aren’t very reliable or need to get rid off. Rainia entering a zone like that would be very difficult and she has to bypass. That could also be a good story arc to introduce for example. But in my opinion, that’s me. Thomas, the writer of this game did a great job, and I’m just offering my humble opinion here 🙂
I’d like the interiors of homes and markets to be more alive rather than just vibrant set pieces. I believe it was my friend, Anduril (who writes brilliant reviews here often. He published his Kenshi review here, which you should go and read!) who urged me to try this game and I do not regret it. The soundtrack is impressive. There are characters to talk to, but some of the NPCs are cloned, which is what I would have liked to have seen improved. The first person driving mode is an awesome feature. Initially, when I started driving I was crashing (still am). You never run out of money, when you discover buildings you gain around the amount of 50. The world is vibrant, but also, it is an economic climate change disaster in the waiting. No pure water, a world that’s basically choking. It does give me vibes of Night City for sure. For an Indie Company, they’ve done a terrific job capturing the atmosphere of triple AAA games.
The checklist in this game doesn’t make you feel like there’s a chore of items you need to do within this tiny world. Each icon is clearly defined with a set-piece in place. Icons are clear and informative. Go to a restaurant? You’re there. Go to a garage? You’re there. I did feel that the Garage was an under-used feature because although this feature is good, you can’t spend much else apart from upgrading. Although sure you’re a delivery driver, I wonder if this game can go multiple paths. I wonder if you could play a hacker, a taxi driver, etc. Allow for more customization options for cars etc. There’s a neat little detail. When you crash your car on a building, it feels like there’s a scratch and boom you see it. However, the crash should feel more of an impact, because it feels a little cheap when crashing into buildings.
Another feature was one of the missions that I had to deliver a package to the bar. That was an awesome mission. However, the bar did not feel alive much. There wasn’t many NPCs dancing, and there were few NPCs around. I would have liked to have seen NPCs eating, drinking, and dancing. Some features of that would be nice. I’d want more accessible interiors. Anduril has told me that they’ll feature a big update to the world, and so I hope my review goes some way in that regard and I look forward to reviewing more when the update comes out!