As with predecessor The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character, Dakko Dakko’s sophomore effort’s name functions as both title and elevator pitch. You do indeed play a hovering deity, your role as protector of a group of sugegasa-sporting worshippers making for a familiar videogame pilgrimage: from left to right.
Floating Cloud God has a pleasingly economical setup: your powers are boosted by the hearts offered up in worship, which in turn are generated by defeating the Oni that stand between your tribe and the level exit, several screens away. Your nebular projectiles grow more potent the more hearts you absorb, though their power depletes the more shots you fire, and the more frequently your god is hit. Certain enemies and obstacles can only be destroyed by dropping bombs from above, though you’ll be reluctant to stray from your fragile charges for too long: a single hit is enough to send one floating skywards.
With the pilgrims functioning as a sentient life meter, and the colour of the god’s cloud indicating his power level, there’s no need for a HUD. All the better, then, to appreciate Gary Lucken’s characterful art, steeped in the Japanese culture that inspired designer Rhodri Broadbent during his previous employment at Q-Games. There’s a wide range of fittingly diabolic monsters, daruma dolls and momiji to dispel, while a shamisen-heavy soundtrack adds further eastern flavour.
There are faint echoes of Patapon and Pikmin here, but Floating Cloud God is more taut and single-minded than both. It’s a game confident enough in its core ideas to simply offer greater volume and variety of enemies in its later stages, and it has the balance and poise to ensure that’s more than sufficient. Where many mobile games fuss over extrinsic motivations, Floating Cloud God proves that an unswerving focus on simple, enjoyable play mechanics can make for a heavenly portable experience.