CLOUD / Jenova Chen / PC
In the previous installment of Awesome Freeware, we looked at Jenova Chen's popular game fl0w. Prior to fl0w he developed a lesser-known indie game called Cloud. Though it has a different theme, the motifs of simple mouse-based gameplay and lovely ambient graphics and music are similar.
This time out, you play as a sort of angel-boy who has the power to draw clouds to him, and suck them into himself to deploy later. You have to fly around finding pure white clouds, of which there are a limited supply, and then lead these to neutral transparent/greyish clouds, at which point they merge together to form a larger mass of white clouds. The ultimate objective of the levels is usually to destroy all of the dark smog clouds, which is done simply by overwhelming them with your white clouds, although sometimes you also have to form a certain shape with the clouds to proceed.
Graphics are simple but pretty, with nice hand-painted watercolors that set the story of the game, and a 3D engine that looks nice without consuming a lot of system resources. The gameplay is equally simple, utilizing only the mouse and a few keyboard buttons (Space to slow down, Shift to absorb white clouds and CTRL to deploy them). A tutorial in the opening two stages gets you going step-by-step, and you can zoom in and out to a great degree if you have a scroll wheel on your mouse. Getting the right speed can be a bit tricky with the mouse, but other than that, the game handles pretty well.
There are only four relatively small stages, and not much to do for "goal-oriented" gamers, but hey - it's freeware. I think it is worthwhile just for the sunny, positive atmosphere and the ability to improve your mood. A nice little desktop break-time game to keep around.