Cradle (2015)

Cradle (2015),  developed and published by Flying For Semianimals

For my money Cradle is both, a pleasing and a disappointing experience. It is pleasing because it is a stunning looking open-world adventure game, with a story that keeps you intrigued to the end. But I'm also disappointed, as a good portion of the game's puzzles are relatively annoying "virtual" cube throwing minigames, where you need to feed a stream specific coloured cubes while an enemy entity is making your existence miserable.

A yurt somewhere in Mongolia is an interesting and relatively unique place to wake up in a game. What makes the waking up more interesting than usual is, that the said yurt is filled with technology, including a female robot that isn't functioning. Also, in a good game fashion, you've managed to concoct an amnesia, so you have no idea what is going on.

Luckily there is a note on the table, giving a recipe for some food, so before anything else, that's what you do and learn the ropes of the game. You, running around, picking up stuff, using stuff on stuff, trying to find a pot and a knife and so on and so forth. All that leads, logically, in you getting a passcode, you can use to open a locked tablet for some more information.

All is still good, thus far, as you start to tinker with the robot and lo and behold, soon she's up and running. Well not running, as someone has turned her legs into flower pots, but at least she's working. Or turned on at least.

Anyway, after a little chat, the next step becomes clear. There's an abandoned amusement park nearby, in which you need to go. Here's where the game goes to the disappointing portion, as what you end up doing in the amusement park is those cube tossing puzzles, which feel like something meant for another game entirely. And there are 4 different ones you need to complete in different places, as each puzzle rewards you with tech you need for the mechanical lady.

So, as it turns out, the world has gone to hell. There's this virus that has turned up after people begun to seek eternal life from android bodies. Ida, the lady robot, is one of such people, existing in a robot body. There's a substance that is born from human emotions, that can be used to fight the virus and the people have been divided between the ugly and beautiful people. The ugly people are the cause of the virus, as their negative and ugly feelings are what caused the outbreak in the first place. 

Yeah, the story goes in a pretty amusing direction. I can't help but feel it's a metaphor towards how people usually behave while online.

And the kicker is, that in the end, the story manages to get a time travel angle in as well. Like I said, I did find the story intriguing, but at the same time, when it came to the end, I couldn't help but think what the hell did I just play. And what the hell did just happen.

Another little issue I had with the game is the controls, which feel a bit off. Not only is there an odd lag in the controls at the time, they also feel a bit too smooth and unprecise. I don't know if this comes from Unigine engine the game uses or if the games control side was left a bit undercooked.

It is a shame, really, that Cradle doesn't quite manage stay together. In many ways, it would have been better had the developers gone fully to the direction of a walking sim with some puzzles instead of stuffing it with the cube puzzles which feel somewhat out of place and, to me at least, kinda ruined the experience that started out on a right foot.

If you want to get in the Cradle, you can do so through Steam.