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Cloudpunk review – a stylish neo noir adventure can’t quite deliver substance

It’s a bit overwhelming at first. Nivalus – the metropolis stretched out for miles beneath the jets of your HOVA vehicle – is vast and unwelcoming, a disorientating complex of highways and highrises blinking neon under the clouds. The flashing lights of the billboards and advertisements – in select shades of blue, yellow, white, orange – bounce off concrete walls without ever softening the city’s razor-sharp edges. There’s a nagging sense that wherever you are, someone, somewhere, is watching. Maybe it’s the constant stream of anonymous vehicles that chunder past you. Maybe it’s the unblinking stare of a million windows looking out at you.

It never stops raining here. You’d think that, high up in the clouds, you’d be beyond the mercy of such humdrum inconveniences, but the downpour is endless. You can’t help but wonder how different Nivalus’ seedy world – this battered, broken cloudscape that’s perpetually shrouded in darkness – might look under the harsh, cold light of day. Would the people you meet – the people who seem so at home under cover of the rainswept night – be different then? Would sunlight help soften the claggy apprehension that clings to each uncertain encounter?

Despite the darkness and continual rain, the city is nevertheless very alive, bustling with the type of folk that only venture out at night. Some will want to talk to you; many more will not. Even fewer will have a meaningful impact on your story. These characters won’t help pack meat onto the bones of the tale of Rania, our mysterious protagonist, but they will add colour and spice to the world she’s found herself in.

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