After having spent over 40 hours playing Cloud Chamber and completing it, I decided it was time to write a more comprehensive review.
The basic premise is that you navigate through a three-dimensional representation of a database, investigating the actions of a scientist and her associates at a research laboratory based out of Denmark. As you discover more information and unlock additional sections or nodes, more questions and answers surface, building a massive web of evidence composed of screenshots, video diaries, e-mail messages, transcripts from scientists, and so forth.
What is amazing about the story is that the science is all based on today's knowledge - it's not this unbelievable extraordinary science-fiction story, but one based entirely on science-fact, psychology, and philosophy. You don't collect data or evidence in a physical manner, but you do discuss what you've found with other players in the game, using an in-game forum where up and down-voting is encouraged. Contributing comments, new posts, or replies creates more discussion, and eventually through your contributions, you unlock new venues of information and evidence. As you progress through the 10 chapters, you weave through a complex web of information and clues that only serve to further your addiction and desire for more of the plot.
I've been glued to Cloud Chamber since it released, and I've been highly engaged in the story line. Although I consider myself to have considerable knowledge of Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Particle physics, Cloud Chamber has given me new perspective on recent theories that the scientific community is encroaching upon. I've learned several new things, and it's been a real pleasure to carry on discourse with other players, like-minded folk, and those who are curious and want to learn more! As such, this is almost an educational title; I guarantee you that by the time you finish the main story line, you will have a much greater understanding of the micro and macroscopic (without providing spoilers).
I was pleased to read that the developer was entertaining the concept of creating additional content, in the form of 'new seasons'. Once you finish the title, you definitely thirst for more! This title has been the best $17 I've spent on entertainment in years. The idea of an interactive feature-film with social network attached, is an insanely brilliant and novel idea!
In regards to the production values and cast, I love all the actors thus far and find that the casting was executed perfectly for Cloud Chamber. They have believable reactions, emotions, fears, but behave as I would under their pressure. You really feel like you're a part of the story, and not just a spectator. Videos shot for the title aren't borne of shaky-cam sequences with bad audio; it's clear that the developer, 'Investigate North', hired a professional film crew with solid Directing and a strong Producer.
I read in the game's official forums that the value you get from the game is quite high compared to the cost to the end-user. Essentially, you get the value of an IMAX Film with a bag of popcorn -- except with the ability to interact, reverse, rewind, fast-forward, pause, zoom-in and out, all the evidence to try to reveal far more info than you could from a 90-minute theater film, with which you can then discuss with people in almost real-time what you personally took-away from the scene, and see if your perspective and understanding matches those around you.
Involving and integrating social media and discourse converts it from a 2 player 'Clue' game to a super-charged 50,000 player investigation game. If you're curious, aren't afraid to post your observations no matter how silly/simple or super complex and extraordinary they may seem, you'll get far in Cloud Chamber. The title rewards those that are curious, investigative, and contribute, and that can either be by posting your perspective, or commenting and up-voting someone else's opinion. Have no fear, new players coming-in today to the game won't be greeted by a game that "has already been discovered and spoiled", according to other negative reviews I've read elsewhere. Even if you've completed the initial story line, you can go back to the game to see what other ideas people have posted; to glean more info and perhaps formulate a better understanding of the 'end-game'.
As for the Score, the soundtrack really made it for me; I was already glued to the story line, but the music just cemented the whole experience for me. A combination of Electronic, Trance, and Progressive from the likes of Burial, Trentemøller, Lulu Rouge, Nero, and many others; I desperately searched for an official soundtrack, but thanks to the developer and other players in the discussion forums, we were able to put a playlist together and I've since obtained my favorite tracks from official sources.
Thanks for reading this review.