Cloud Chamber Preview (PC)

My god, it’s full of clouds

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Cloud chamber is a peculiar game if it’s a game at all. It’s more reminiscent of Actual Reality Games (ARGs) like Ilovebees from Halo 2. You are presented with a number of videos and documents and then working with other players through an in-game forum you try to piece together what’s happening. You can comment in these forums and people can give you likes, and likes give you access to more, so there’s an incentive for productive, helpful or interesting comments. So far my comments have been none of these things, they’ve all been questions.

The production value of the videos is surprisingly good for something that’s not appearing on TV. It’s all shot very well and the three main actors do a very good job of portraying the drama. You get little snippets of story but many are on location, have full soundtracks and some excellent lighting.

You navigate through these videos in a bizarre OS that reminds us of Jurassic Park’s infamous hacking scene. The videos are points on hilltops in a lush Bryce3D landscape, and you move from point to point to see each one. The more important ones are higher up and many are unavailable to you at first until you get a little more involved.

They follow the process of making a documentary about some kind of experiment. There’s a suspiciously absent father, a young woman who is haunted by her past and then two male characters who act as some kind of narrator for what you are doing. It appears that occasionally at least one of them comments in the same forums as you, which is interesting as a device to break the fourth wall and lead to a little more immersion. Obviously it’s unclear how long that will keep up but for now it’s pretty unique.

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The conversations on the forums are limited at present due to the low numbers of people with access but the conversations range from discussions of particle physics and theoretical astronomy and sociology to some kinds of cryptology with the occasional letters that appear in the background all the way to inane discussions about whether or not they fancy the protagonists. As far as the internet goes that’s not too bad. Controlling this crowd mentality on the forums is going be a great challenge for Cloud Chamber though. It’s got a very specific X-files style tone and inappropriate comments could destroy that entirely.

As it stands, Cloud Chamber is genuinely something new and different. That’s exciting in itself but the execution is going to be what makes or breaks the game. The groundwork is already solid with good production values, an interesting story and enough hooks to get you thinking. It’s on us to make this great! We’ve definitely got hooked on working out the mystery, like any great TV show, so we’ll be delving in from time to time to see what people are thinking at the moment.

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