Old MacDonald had a farm, and on that farm he had a – cloud? Yep that’s right, clouds. No, not the latest cloud feature from the kitchen of Tesla or inner circles of Google, Tinymoon and Freedom Games bring us Clouzy. The world’s first daycare centre dedicated to clouds. Uh okay then, let’s see if we can live out our dreams as the world’s greatest cloud farmer, or if our head is just ‘in the clouds’.
Vibrancy is what hits you right in the face when you start up the game and the first thing you notice about Clouzy are the very Nintendo-like graphics. The landscapes, colour palette and characters look like a mash up of animal crossing meets Pokémon meets crazy Japanese cat cafe.
You are tasked with creating your character, using a very basic character creator. Limited skin tones, hairstyles and clothing options are available, with unlockable options greyed out to begin. There are enough starting options to give your character, male or female, only a couple of varied looks. It’s simple to use for new gamers but disappointing for seasoned gamers used to more customisation.
Once you have your perfect get up and hairstyle sorted, you’ll want to give your character a nickname before heading off to the tutorial. Clouzy is a simplistic and relaxing first person life simulator that tasks you with caring for cloud creatures on the ranch. The beginning of your journey comes paired with a nicely done movement tutorial which takes you through every control from walking around to sending your companion to specific areas. The designers really thought of young children here as the steps are so simple to follow. My four-year old had no issues getting to grips with them.
The following area on the ranch introduces you to the main gameplay – caring for your clouds. You learn about crafting recipes to keep your companions fed and happy. To do this you must select a recipe on the computer and gather the ingredients for it to make the item. There is a play area to interact with your cloud critters, you must make them comfortable and maintain their stats to ensure happiness is high.
Sometimes when viewing the computers that present gameplay info, the text can be a tad small. There are no menu options to increase text size and this may be a stumbling block for some. Selecting options with the cursor is a bit on the fiddly side as well; often selecting the right button was hit or miss.
But let’s talk about the main event – the critters.
Clouds, or floating animals as they appear, will need different items or food types to remain happy. Basic resource management is going to come in handy as often you will have many cloud creatures on the ranch at the same time. The other stat to watch for is based on how well the cloud plays with others, mostly as one bad egg can ruin the day of everyone on the ranch. I would recommend keeping them apart from each other to keep the peace.
You get your missions on the big screen outside of your house and they all revolve around caring for cloud creatures. Tasks are relatively simple and usually revolve around combining items to make something new to keep the clouds happy. Depositing the newly created item into a box results in a reward, normally new crafting items or seeds to plant and grow more food.
Playing Clouzy is nothing but a simple, nice and charming time. That said, several bugs and glitches hampered progress during the time I spent with the game. Many times my player character was frozen in place and could only access menus. A game prompt even recognised that I was stuck and suggested using the rescue option on the map. Using the map, and selecting rescue, did not fix the problem, it only moved my player to another location to be frozen there instead. It was very disheartening after so many good elements were in place.
That aside, Clouzy is a brilliant choice for the younger gamer who wishes to get a feel for gaming. The simplistic nature of the crafting combined with the cutesy graphics is ideal for little ones to learn gaming basics. The missions you receive on the main board/computer offer up gifts on completion too; anything from new items to furniture or even customisation options.
Music is delightfully plinky and relaxing. It feels like a remake of 8-bit chiptune on a modern electronic organ and it really fits the style and tone of Clouzy as a whole. Sound effects are few and far between but these also are never offensive or out of place. All in, the sound is on point and the team behind it have managed to craft exactly the right melodies for the game. I definitely more than a few times left the music playing as I went about my real life adult tasks around the house.
All in all, Clouzy is the Animal Crossing pet-raising spin off that never happened. A hidden gem that I can wholeheartedly recommend for any parents out there. If you keep looking for kid friendly experiences on Xbox and repeatedly come up short, Clouzy is the answer to your problems. Raising animals, meeting needs, crafting, basic farming and the joy of exploring make up the foundations.
Sitting lazily by the river with a floating cat, both gazing at the floating temples that scatter the sky is the most relaxing time I’ve had, at least outside of games on Nintendo Switch. It truly is a nice experience, so much so that I’ve promised to allow my little one more time on Clouzy next time we play together. Dad may also spend some more time gathering items and visiting new areas. Achievement hunters will be happy to know the completion list is very simple and should take no time at all to complete. At least once you get the controller back from the kids.
Clouzy is highly recommended for parents, young folks and anyone looking for something closer to Animal Crossing (in looks) for Xbox or for those who just want to take five, relax and have a break from the barrage of heavy duty games that we have to play this year.
Now excuse me, I’ve got to go and plant some peach berries.
You can download Clouzy from the Xbox Store