Earth can be a stressful planet: global economic collapse, foreclosures, joblessness. No wonder we immerse ourselves in digital fantasy worlds where we blow up zombies, slaughter necromancers, and stomp on tiny turtle shells. Actually, even playing video games can be stressful (I once destroyed my controller over fighting Krauser from Resident Evil 4) so we should get in touch with our happy side and play Cloud for the PC.
Cloud combines daydreaming and flight into a fantastic stress-reliever. Ironically, what sparks the game's action is a stressful situation: the nameless protagonist has grown tired of laying in his hospital bed. To escape the drudgery of his days, he imagines himself flying through the clouds, without the suffucating cockpit of a jet or the ever-turbulent cabin of a commercial airliner.
Players use the keyboard and mouse to fly and collect clouds strewn throughout the sky. In fact, players collect so many clouds they can eventually have a personal army of white fluffiness following them wherever they go. The clouds players collect later become powerful weapons for fighting pollution–dark clouds that hang over islands and cities. Once the two armies meet, they break apart into rain showers and clean Earth. No blood, no guts, no cussing.
Cloud is sometimes described as a third-person puzzle game, and deservedly so. Gamers must be strategic in how they use their white clouds to dispense the dark clouds, but nothing brain-numbing. However, each of the four levels in the game have a different set of objectives, like creating cloud patterns, so the developers (more on them later) made sure Cloud has some variety.
The great thing about Cloud is that there's no fuss. No need to worry if you pass or fail, or if you lose your place in the game after a power outtage. It's a game anyone can pick up and play at anytime. Many video games take themselves seriously to the point gamers stress over them. Cloud, however, does not take itself seriously, and so gamers should not take the game seriously.That doesn't mean gamers should treat Cloud as a joke; that simply means Cloud is–how I like to describe some games–a "no-stress play" game.
Players will see this idea in the design of Cloud: the colors combine soft, light blue and white with gray, black, and green–all of these colors have their place yet the player frequently combines these colors to augment the game's beauty. Also, the soundtrack complements the setting of the game. It's very beautiful and tranquil, using the piano, flute, and drums as key instruments. If Cloud had a lot of action music–some heavy metal like in the Dynasty Warriors series–the no-stress play would fall apart.
Cloud was created in 2005 by university students at University of Southern California's Interactive Media Program and was highly successful. It is still available for download, although Cloud is six years old. Two of the game's designers Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago later founded thatgamecompany. The game design philosophy of Cloud and its emphasis on evoking an emotional response from gamers appear in thatgamecompany's well-known video games for the Playstation 3, like Flower and Journey.
What is one video game you think "breaks the mold"?