Its a shame that Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims isn’t as fun to play as it is to say. Developed by Welsh studio Dakko Dakko, Floating Cloud God is a simplistic side scrolling shooter with its visuals drawing inspiration from the ancient East. A PlayStation Mini title, Floating Cloud God is entertaining enough in light of the game’s striking simplicity of design. There’s praise to be had for such simplicity, given how easy it is for the player to settle into the game’s groove. Floating Cloud God is a competently built game whose charm ultimately wears thin as time goes on.
There isn’t much of a story to Floating Cloud God. The player is presented with a series of levels that puts them in control of a divine entity who watches over a band of pilgrims as they traverse the ancient land. As a god, it is your role to serve as a protector, fending off all sorts of monsters, oni, vengeful birds and other enemies as they try to kill the hapless, defenseless pilgrims. As such, Floating Cloud God essentially becomes an escort variant of the classic shooter, R-Type. Protecting the pilgrims is a take often easier said than done. There are a variety of different enemy types that try very hard to kill your pilgrims either by swooping in to carry them away or attacking them with energy bullets, fire and other projectiles. The cloud god cannot die, naturally, which makes for a small mercy as the player can dive in and take the hit, protecting pilgrims from death. Once the end of the level is reached, all surviving pilgrims will pass through a torii and pick up an additional pilgrim before heading to the next stage. Should all pilgrims be killed before they reach the torii, the game is over.
While the pilgrims are unable to protect themselves, the cloud god is not. Using the right analog stick, the cloud god can lay down a stream of short range cloud based projectiles and pressing the shoulder button will launch a bomb attack designed to take out ground targets. Both attacks are serviceable though not entirely powerful. That’s where the pilgrims come in. As they move through the level, small hearts will rise over their heads and slowly make their way towards the cloud god. Collecting the hearts as soon as they appear will add a minor boost to his attacks but if you wait long enough for the hearts to grow larger, picking them up will yield a much stronger attack boost. While all enemies can be taken out relatively easily with the basic attack, the boosted attack will cut through them much more efficiently, giving you you the time to move onto additional threats.
If the game has a flaw, it is that it can get frustrating pretty quickly. While the first few stages and bosses are manageable, it isn’t long until later levels throw more and more enemies at you in every direction. It doesn’t help that the cloud god’s attacks don’t reach very far (you can’t hang back and snipe targets on the opposite side of the screen) and the cloud god cannot attack monsters behind him. I as mentioned, the cloud god cannot die which puts him in the position of taking a few hits for the team. This tactic isn’t without its consequences, as getting hit will remove any attack bonuses earned by collecting hearts. That’s a sacrifice that needs to be made, since there are no other ways to protect the pilgrims. I managed to keep a pull party of pilgrims until the second level. I got really upset with a particular mid-boss who took out a significant number of my pilgrims while leaving me feeling completely helpless and unable to act.
Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims is a simple game that’s easy to pick up and play, though I don’t recommend playing it in long stretches (which I did), lest you grow bored with it entirely. The game plays well in short bursts. A lovely and colorful palette and a variety of different environments make Floating Cloud God really fun to look at and somewhat reminiscent of Katamari Damacy in my eyes. Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims might not set your Vita (or the genre) on fire, but it makes for a fairly decent distraction for car rides and plane trips.