Cloud Path sees Ketchapp giving its own take on twitch-heavy gaming, but the results are uneven.
Ketchapp is quickly becoming one of the most renowned mobile game developers around thanks to a string of simple yet mind-blowingly addictive games available on both iOS and Android. It received international acclaim with 2048, a single-player puzzle game and has since released a string of other popular charting games such as The Tower, which I reviewed in 2014, giving it 9/10 for its immensely addictive nature.
With a game library now spanning over 50 titles and controversial claims that it has been stealing submitted games and copying their ideas, Ketchapp is having to refresh some old ideas and climb the mobile game ladder again to redeem itself.
Cloud Path is the developer’s latest offering, combining cute cuboid voxel graphics reminiscent of Minecraft, an isometric view and an extremely simple idea in mind of simply moving your character forward along a path floating in the sky as the blocks fall behind you, and fall quicker and quicker the further you go.
As with The Tower, Cloud Path’s main selling point lies in how addictive it is. The perfect balance between success and failure has been achieved as you scour to tap on the right hand side of the screen to move forward and on the left hand side to jump up or down a block.
Unfortunately your initial attempts to get anywhere will be thwarted by a lack of clear guidance. Although Ketchapp provides you with a simple explanation of how to play, the developer fails to explain that you need to use the left hand side of the screen to also jump down. I originally thought that you could simply tap to go forward and that the character would automatically jump down, but that’s not the case – something which led to many a failure and no small degree of frustration. Had the in-game tutorial been a bit more effective at its job, this problem could have been avoided.
There are two types of items you can collect as you progress along your path. A lightning bolt pushes you around 20 blocks ahead, meaning that it’s instantly desirable. The longer you survive, the higher your score, and so you’ll find yourself wishing for a bolt to appear so that you can nudge your score up and beat your personal best – or your friends’.
The other power up is a small gem whose value increases the further you get. It goes up in increments of 1 and can then be used to purchase new characters. You can also watch a sponsored video after a set amount of time which will give you 20 gems straight off the bat.
The fact that the only item in the game purchasable with in-game currency are new character skins, which seems a little restrictive. It would have been more imaginative to implement an upgrade system, or perhaps the ability to purchase extra lives so that you can try and beat your top score.
I found that the lightning bolt mechanism, however, was either totally absent from my current game or was annoyingly abundant. After a while of whizzing along the path after hitting bolt after bolt, I became a little bored as I was essentially doing nothing. I also lost my train of thought every time I hit a bolt as I would have to get back into the groove of moving forward and jumping.
One thing Ketchapp is known for is its ad placement, and unfortunately Cloud Path shows that the studio isn’t about to ease up on its annoyingly frequent pop-up ads. With random full screen adverts popping up mid-game and then, yet again, breaking your train of thought, Cloud Path‘s in-app ads are a frequent annoyance. They appear far too often, and whilst I sympathize that the studio needs to make money, I would also quite like to avoid being interrupted by an ad asking me to take out a new mortgage, or advertising a cell phone network I’ve never heard of before.
All in all, Cloud Path feels a little uneven and undercooked. The concept is there, but the execution lacks the kind of quality I’ve come to expect from the developer. The simple and cute visuals are nice, but the sound and music feels as though Ketchapp simply ran out of time, money or enthusiasm. The gameplay mechanics and in-game currency feel similarly half-hearted, almost as if someone went “yeah, that’ll do”, and ran off with the cash.
That’s a shame, because Cloud Path looks nice, it performs well, and it’s actually rather addictive. I can definitely see myself playing it as I sit at the station waiting for my next train, or whilst waiting for a doctor’s appointment – but that’s all I feel like doing with Cloud Path. I wouldn’t actively play it in my spare time, unlike Hearthstone or Angry Birds, which keep me going back for more and occupy my idle thoughts far more than they have any right to.
Cloud Path ultimately ends up suffering not because it isn’t attempting to break new ground, but because it isn’t executed particularly well. Ketchapp has proven that it has the skill to take a well-worn concept and craft something wonderful with it in the past, and so the fact that it has failed to do so here makes you wonder just what went wrong during development.
Is Cloud Path addictive? Yes. Is it attractive? Certainly. But is it a worthwhile download, one to return to time and again? Unfortunately not.