Steppeing Out: Cradle Released

The word 'yurt' is fun to say aloud.

We can finally find out what the ‘H E double-hockeysticks’ Cradle [official site] is. Snips and smidgens from screenshots and videos have shown a strange abandoned theme park on lonely steppe, gathering and analysing flowers, a hovertram driven by a robotic grandpa, a robolady we need to rebuild in a yurt, and big colourful neon cubearenas. No idea.

I’m keen to find out though, and it launched on Saturday – available for Windows and Linux on Steam for £9.99.

Cradle is a sci-fi first-person explore-o-adventure sort of thing. You’re in a strange land with a strange mission, and plenty of space to roam around. And at this point, I’ll turn you over to Ukranian developers Flying Cafe for Semianimals (an amazing name) to describe the story:

“Thirty years ago in the mid-2040s the sweeping development of neuroscience stirred up the common anticipation of victory over aging and death. In 2047 the scientists of the Neurocopying Institute in Cologne run the first experiments on transferring human consciousness onto an artificial carrier. In the course of experiments a weird previously unregistered phenomenon was discovered – the copies of neurotic system of the test subjects awoken in the computational device began to self-destroy by immersing in a state of deep irrational fear.

“The discovery of the mysterious phenomenon induced a string of events to have completely changed the society. Dozens of years later the question of the ‘Panic Attack’ nature still remains open. We do not know how far the researchers’ thought has led them in search of the answer, but we believe it hardly ever visited this Mongolian steppe.”

What a strange and wonderful setup for a game set around an abandoned theme park. I shan’t say more, because I don’t want to look into it much more and spoil things for myself.

Our Adam, however, played Cradle over the weekend and says he will be telling us Wot He Thinks once he has time to write it up. Busy boy, that one. For now, have a trailer:

14 Comments

  1. GameCat says:

    I don’t like every design choices in this game and controls are little clunky, but for its price I’d recommend it to everyone who likes sci-fi games, Mongolian steppe and/or robotic lady companions.

  2. Petethegoat says:

    Steam reviews are positive so I’m basically happy to buy this off the back of the two early trailers and the setting. Excited to not shoot some men for once.

  3. MrUnimport says:

    Ready to buy this off the bat, but are there any language options? The English voice work in that trailer is one or two steps short of enthralling.

    • congenetic says:

      The player character voice work is the worst part of a short game that is otherwise very interesting.

  4. Kollega says:

    I’m seriously tempted to buy this because of the unconventional aesthetics, weird sci-fi flair, and painstalkingly detailed environment… but the seemingly-dark sci-fi backstory and psychological horror elements are really Not My Thing =/ Maybe someone here can tell me how prominent they are without giving any plot points away?

    • Premium User Badge

      calcifer says:

      Nothing dark or horror-y about the story, don’t worry :)

  5. Hobbes says:

    Okay, TLDR as I’ve managed to finish it despite some glitchyness and some CTD’s.

    Playtime – 4 hours (that’s presuming you take your time, if you don’t spend a lot of time poking and prodding the environment, you could easily shave off an hour).

    Overall aesthetic – really, really good. The art style is genuinely excellent.

    No horror stuff as such, though the story does have some dark sci-fi elements (as it does deal with a possible future timeline).

    However, MAJOR issues with how the story is handled (and I’ll avoid spolering as much as I can), basically, at the 3-4 hour mark, the game feels like it’s just about hitting it’s stride and you’re starting to see plot points appear and more story and narrative arcs come together, and things are bubbling up nicely. Things with Ida (the droid) are beginning to coalesce into a humane relationship that the player can feel a real connection with….

    … and then it ends. Very suddenly. I mean it. The end. No more. That’s it. The rest of the story you’re supposed to figure out for yourself from various scattered paperwork in out of the way places (which isn’t hinted at AT ALL). There’s no sense of completion or closure, it just… stops.

    That left me feeling very frustrated and annoyed. So this one gets a “Buyer beware” from me.

    • AngoraFish says:

      Thanks for the detailed review. Sounds like this is going to be a wait until the game appears in a bundle for me.

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      Thanks for the write-up. Knowing it ends suddenly can temper my expectations, so perhaps I could enjoy it a bit more.

      I also find, personally, that these types of games can make me angry at first, and then the more I think about them, the more I respect what was done. So I do hope that can be the case.

  6. futabot says:

    I find this game strangely brilliant because it keeps itself mysterious even after the ending. I think it is intentionally abrupt and confusing. There are so many little-but-rich pieces of lore literally littered about that would become purposeless without an ending that just makes you go ‘huh’.

    Personally, I feel the purpose and direction. The creators understand how my curious mind thinks and perhaps how players generally put down these kinds of games after they’re done. They somehow avoid that without offending me.

    That’s the hallmark of this game. Unlike Gone Home which wraps itself neatly at its conclusion, this game keeps its own world relevant. Some people groan and leave, but I found myself staying past the credits and returning just to answer my own nagging questions.

    • Hobbes says:

      In fairness, it could have easily done both without causing the wallcrash at the 4 hour mark. That ending screams “We ran out of time and/or money” because it just leaves far too much to assumptive guesswork and a sort of jazzhands ‘You figure it out!’. There’s nothing that would have stopped them fleshing things out past that point with a further 2-3 hours of game content that would have developed and brought closure to the game and the relationship with Ida, and at the same time layered on the information presented in the snippets and paperwork you stumble across in the game world.

      No document / memo log for this game is an absolute cardinal sin by the way. That’s something I should mention in big bold letters.

      • geisler says:

        If you google this game and it’s development (and many delays), your learn that they did in fact, run out of money. They even considered a kickstarter way back in 2013.

  7. Spluff says:

    Is it possible to play this game in its native language with English subtitles?