First Impressions: Cloud Meadow

Dear readers, I want you to bear with me for a moment. Cloud Meadow is an awkward game to pitch because its premise will see 99.9% of people dismiss it outright. It is a hentai game, but one unlike any other we have talked about before. It is a game that has the potential to combat the stigma surrounding erotic video games. Let me explain…

Right out of the gate, Cloud Meadow impresses with its world-building. It is set in an imaginative fantasy world where humans and monsters coexist. Through the aid of magical technology, an age of prosperity has been realized and even the skies have now become ripe for settling. A powerful organization known as The Union keeps the peace in this world, of which you are fresh recruit. You are tasked with going to a frontier town called Cloverton, situated on a floating island, and restoring its dilapidated farm. That might sound peaceful, but the frontier is fraught with danger. It’s not long before you find yourself having to deal with problems far beyond your pay grade.

The visuals help sell this interesting world. Cloverton and the world around it enjoy a beautiful fantasy aesthetic. It’s vibrant and lively, with art that feels entirely its own. You can see that thought went into how every detail of this world ought to look. The architecture, the people, the transport. The characters especially look great and have cute animations. That applies both to human characters, as well as the various monster species.

Despite being in Early Access, the game already has some beefy mechanics to it. Your foremost job is to farm, of course. This mainly involves the daily grind of planting crops and watering them. Each type of crop takes a certain amount of time to grow, at which point you can harvest the yields and start anew. You can sell your harvest directly, use it as feed for animals, or use them as reagents for crafting. Additional depth is added by the ability to have employees work the farm for you or use various animal products as fertilizer to improve the quality of your harvest.

Where the game gets weird (and sexual) is with livestock. In this world, monsters are very much people. They are sentient beings that live side-by-side with humanity. They just don’t start that way. For complex reasons, monsters exist either in the wild as feral tribes or are born in captivity. Your livestock is people. You breed monsters, who are then born as your employees. You set them to work on the farm, harvest them for “animal” products, or breed them even further. When they are old enough, you can release them into society and receive a stipend for taking care of them.

Breeding is enjoyably complex. Each monster has traits that can be positive or negative, which have a chance of being passed on to any of its offspring. Some traits make them better workers, others improve their produce, and some make them more capable fighters. Because there is an entire RPG dungeon-crawler aspect on top of everything else that we haven’t even gotten into yet. You can even breed monsters with yourself, which awards you with 1 of several high-quality animations. Each type of monster has a different scene to it with variations for both its and your gender. You can also peek in on the monsters doing their assigned breeding, though in those cases the animations are done with in-game sprites. Still, that is a remarkable amount of variation.

Getting back to the RPG element, that is actually my favorite part of the game thus far. You explore other islands while dealing with monsters and quests along the way. Combat is incredibly fleshed out for an Early Access game, which isn’t even principally about combat. Each character or monster type has 4 different moves, some of which require timed inputs to improve their effectiveness. Characters can level up or equip items to make them stronger, and of course there is the aforementioned breeding program you can run. It is very engaging stuff.

My only concern is that I didn’t feel very incentivized to bring my monsters. There are a number of plot-important characters you can take along instead, who are all formidable fighters with unique mechanics each. Why then would I take monsters that could instead be generating passive income and which I eventually have to release. Maybe I am underestimating the end-game potential of breeding monsters. Maybe the devs have some kind of mechanic planned where you can have monster parties do quests off-screen. Either of those options would make training monsters more worthwhile. Until then, I preferred sticking with the permanent party members.

Being an Early Access game, Cloud Meadow is also not yet complete. The animations, art, and mechanics are all very robust already, but it still needs a lot of content to tie it all together. Cloverton feels too static right now. The townsfolk doesn’t have much to say and doesn’t really do anything. You meet them all on day 1 and most don’t appear to have any further dialogue ever. You can’t even initiate a conversation to get a generic line or anything and they never move from their spot. The town itself also has little to offer outside of perusing the local businesses. Sometimes special merchants show up, but that is the extent to which the town changes.

Some of the mechanics operate in a debug state right now, such as all party members being unlocked by default even if they refused to join your group. Unique romances with the story characters are also only party implemented. Some characters have extensive dialogue trees; others don’t. Some systems could also do with more polish and explanation.The tutorial especially is mediocre right now, with many loose ends that can cause confusion.

It is work-in-progress for sure. What you can play now is already plenty amazing though. Cloud Meadow would’ve already been notable for its setting and RPG mechanics alone, but is also a competent farming sim and erotic experience on top of that. Whereas most hentai games are just porn with game mechanics to justify themselves, Cloud Meadow treats sex as just a part of its experience. It’s there and it’s really good, but you could be doing hours of quests, farming, and dungeon-crawling without engaging with any of it. You could even turn it off and still have a genuinely satisfying game.

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