You traverse the landscape in a hovercab, a floating car. You drive on bright and colourful highways that zigzag between buildings. Shops, squares, and neighbourhoods where you deliver packages are laid out on floating platforms between the highways, nestled high up between impressive skyscrapers. The game draws you in with its colours and moody atmosphere, and the story, a neo-noir mystery told mostly through voiceovers, complements the visuals nicely. Cloudpunk plunges its players into a layered and immersively stylised world. Its captivating vaporwave aesthetics reminded me of the recent Paradise Killer, both in style and in the sense that the game’s world sticks with you long after you finish a playthrough.
Perhaps this is why the latest update – the Cockpit update – is such a great addition to the game’s world: it allows players to see Nivalis up close from behind their hovercab’s dashboard for the very first time. Previously, the game only allowed players to see their cab speed down its sky-high motorways from a third-person perspective. While the wide perspective allows you to admire the cityscape easily, there’s something very intimate and personal about exploring the world from a first-person view. For one thing, the update comes with a free-moving camera inside the car, which allows you to see the inside of Rania’s cab up close as you travel through the city. In addition to this, some atmospheric updates have also been added. You can now see the rain fall on your windshield and hear passing cars swoosh past yours as you drive down a highway, which I found a lot more immersive than the original wide perspective.
Nivalis is presented as a beautiful but corrupt and dangerous place. Some neighbourhoods harbour dark secrets, and life moves incredibly quickly. Seeing the world from inside the hovercab truly brought the game’s setting to life for me. In my eyes, seeing other cars whip past you in the pouring rain while you’re rushing to deliver a package, or seeing cracks appear in your windshield if you crash into walls and ongoing traffic too often, conveyed the harshness of Rania’s world in a much more direct way than the original.