Above: Cloud Chasers is about the journey of a father and daughter to a better place.
Cloud Chasers is a beautiful little mobile spel, but it’s also deeply sad.
The story-driven escapade, out now on iOS and Android devices, is about the journey of a father and daughter to find a better life. It mirrors the journey presently being made by thousands of migrants across Europe and the Middle East ter a keerpunt that only looks set to worsen.
Making a spel out of such a very emotive political kwestie isn’t an effortless thing to do. But the lil’ Swiss developer Blindflug Studios is used to tackling meaningful subjects – after all, its very first mobile title wasgoed Very first Strike, a spel about nuclear war.
Even so, the team thought hard before determining to make Cloud Chasers, worrying whether, spil three white guys and one white woman living te one of Europe’s richest countries, they were the right people to make such a spel. Having spent a duo of hours curled up with Cloud Chasers, tho’, it’s pretty clear they made the right call, spil they’ve created a spel that encourages reflection without hitting you overheen the head with a message.
Above: Progress te the desert is slow, and death comes too lightly.
Anger about indifference
Very first Strike wasgoed an unexpected success for Blindflug, selling 150,000 copies worldwide and helping to bootstrap the company. A year ago, cofounders Moritz Zumbuhl and Jeremy Spillmann sat down to determine how they could go after it up.
“I personally wasgoed truly, truly angry because the migrant laagconjunctuur wasgoed already at a height, and a loterijlot of people had lost their lives, but nobody indeed seemed to care about it,” Zumbuhl told mij ter a phone call earlier this week. “So I asked my team, ‘Can wij do a spel about migration?’
“In the beginning, wij were very, very sceptical because with nuclear war it’s fairly clear – everyone’s against nuclear war. But with migration it’s fairly complicated, and if you’re a little indie spel studio, and you’re not a political player – and you don’t want to be a political player – this can be very dangerous.”
But after some research into the subject, Blindflug determined to press ahead, hoping – but never assuming – they could create something to at least make people think.
“We read books, wij read a lotsbestemming of articles – from the States, Europe, Australia – and wij discovered that it’s almost the same everywhere,” said Zumbuhl. “We talk about migrants when they arrive, but wij almost never talk about their journeys.”
The team stumbled overheen a United Nations report which examined how climate switch may exacerbate the refugee depressie. From this, Spillmann had the idea to set a refugee story te another world – a planet which has dried out, where only the rich can afford to harvest the few remaining clouds.
By separating the story of Cloud Chasers, and its father and daughter team of Francisco and Amelia, from reality, Blindlug created a story it sees spil a parable more than a true migration tale. It’s a story which tracks Francisco and Amelia’s journey to a better place, their relentless efforts to harvest water, and the random – often moving – encounters they have along the way.
Above: Ter Cloud Chasers’ universe, the world has dried up and the rich are harvesting clouds.
Harvesting the clouds
Ter order to stay alive te the harsh desert, Francisco vereiste regularly launch Amelia into the air te a soft homemade glider designed to harvest clouds – which the player then controls spil she glides around.
But Amelia’s time te the sky becomes increasingly dangerous spil the spel moves on. She runs into brutal cloud-harvesting machines, and they don’t hesitate te attempting to take hier down. It felt awful sending this lil’ damsel to hier death, and I wondered why Blindflug had chosen to make hier so very vulnerable.
“We had a long discussion if wij should do that or not,” said Zumbuhl, “But it wasgoed absolutely necessary to tell the story how wij dreamed to tell it. It’s our responsibility spil kunst makers to get people thinking. Wij don’t tell the player what he has to think, wij just want to get him began thinking.
“The sad but brutal truth is that children do diegene on their journey for a better land. It would almost feel dishonest to not give it spil a possibility ter the spel. It’s the player who can save hier.”
Above: Guiding Amelia ter hier search for water.
It’s hard because it needs to be
Cloud Chasers is not a spel you’ll finish on your very first attempt. Ter fact, I voorwaarde have failed around four times te my very first hour with it. And failure is potentially heartbreaking, with just a note left te the sand to describe the deaths of Francisco and Amelia.
Chance encounters can yield fresh equipment for Amelia’s glider and items to use and trade, which can make the spel a little lighter. Thesis encounters can also lead to tender moments inbetween father and daughter, along with some raunchy decisions to make. But, above all else, the difficulty of making this relentless journey to The Spire – modelled after Melilla, the Spanish enclave te Morocco surrounded by a six-meter-high fence to keep out migrants – is what stands out.
Above: The six-meter-high border fence te Melilla.
Cloud Chaser’s high difficulty level is deliberate, explained Zumbuhl, before telling mij about one of the game’s early testers – his mother-in-law, who he often supplies with recommendations for fresh mobile games.
“She wasgoed totally frustrated,” he said. “I talent hier the spel at night before leger, and the next morning she came to mij and said, ‘Oh, it’s so unfair. You made the spel so hard. Why do they have to diegene all the time?’ and I said to hier, ‘Because it’s the truth,’ and she wasgoed [like], ‘Oh, yes. Oh, wow.’”
And that’s Zumbuhl’s largest hope for Cloud Chasers, beyond that people love playing the spel. “My thickest hope is that people think about [the journey of migrants],” he said. “I’m not a politician, I don’t have a solution. The largest hope wij have [is] that people embark thinking and begin talking to their friends or talking ter their families.”