Cloud Chamber Review

Cloud Chamber Featured

Cloud Chamber Logo

Developer: Investigate North
Publisher: Investigate North
Platform: PC – Steam

Alternate reality games hold a very special place in my heart. This overlooked genre places you – the player – in something that seems much larger than a simple game. By involving you directly in a narrative, often by emailing or even calling you, these so-called ARGs brought games into a new dimension. Unfortunately, there are very few out there. Although Cloud Chamber is not really an ARG, it feels very much like one. So let’s dive into exactly what this game is!

Cloud Chamber is a massively multiplayer game focused around a story filled with sci-fi intrigue. Basically, the player is “invited” to enter into an investigation within the game’s world. Alongside many other (real) players your goal is to sift through a large database of information and piece together a story. Not only that, the goal is to figure out exactly just what went down between a cast of characters who were on the cusp of a massive scientific discovery. Because the story is pertinent to every aspect of the game, I won’t say more about it than that.

Cloud Chamber Screenshot 1

What I can talk about is how interacting with other players is handled. Cloud Chamber includes ten chapters and each chapter has a multitude of nodes (video footage, scanned papers, diaries, etc). Each node also has a comment section where players discuss their theories and questions with one another. Yes, this sounds dire. Comments on the internet are so often the worst! Amazingly, the community is very well-behaved here and participates fully in the game’s narrative. If you ever see someone being rude or mean you can downvote them (and so far no one is abusing this feature).

Admittedly, I felt very unintelligent compared to many other commentors. While they researched amazing things and came back with hard data I was left to provide surface level observations. All the same, people engaged with me and we had a fun rapport. Had there been an in-game browser (beyond Steam Overlay) it would’ve been more appealing to do research of my own. Unfortunately, being a lurker is frowned upon by design. You must comment as it generates upvotes for you. With enough upvotes you unlock locked portions of the database.

After building up the bravery to cast aside my lurker tendencies I began to unlock more and more of the story. Along the way I discovered new theories provided by players that enhanced the actual story even more. Cloud Chamber became my obsession as I worked to see every last portion of the database. All in all, I’ve not had an experience like this in a long time. Perhaps the closet came with Missing: Since January in the early 2000s.

Cloud Chamber Featured

My biggest fear is that if you don’t play soon that the magic will be lost. After all, Cloud Chamber is based heavily upon interaction between players. If there isn’t a continual influx of new players then I’m not sure what will happen. I’ve already stuck around longer than needed to simply enjoy replying to others – but at some point I’ll be unable to remember the sequence of discoveries which could lead to inadvertent spoiling of other players. As such, I’ll have to quit soon.

Will other players continue to jump in? I certainly hope so. Cloud Chamber is simply an amazing, unique way of handling a story-based game. The story itself is intriguing thanks to well-researched touchstones alongside a mysterious sci-fi narrative thread. Fans of experimental or narrative-focused game simply must check Cloud Chamber out.

Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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