It’s not easy to jump out of a plane, y’know? I will do it for the first time in approximately two weeks from 7,000 feet in the air. I might be shitting myself. But worse is all the prep up until that moment—about 30 seconds of freefall—as it’s a lot of hassle. I’ve had to join the British Parachute Association, pay £149 in advance, and will have a 30-minute tutorial that will help me not die when dangerously flinging myself out of a hollow tube with wings in the sky.
All that, plus I have to endure my mother’s frets. “I couldn’t do that. What if something goes wrong? Why are you doing that?” Well, ma, there are several reasons. I have a fear of heights that causes my knees to tremble uncontrollably when faced with a drop. I also get an urge to jump off in such a situation. I think that’s my mind’s logical way of overcoming said fear, which is madness. Perhaps I’m worried that one day that urge will take over. If so, that will probably be how I die. And so my hope is that by jumping from really high up (out of a goddamn plane) I’ll satiate that bizarre request in my brain forever more.
Other than that, hell, haven’t you ever wanted the feeling of flying? Don’t give me any of that airplane nonsense, either. I don’t recall Superman having to deal with sitting in a cramped chair, watching movies for hours on end, and getting by on little to no sleep while a baby screams in his ear. That’s not flight. That’s just long-distance endurance. Granted, I’ll only be falling, technically, but I’ll have my arms out and I’ve heard it’ll be quite blowy on the way down.
As this event in my life is coming up rather sharpish I’m on the lookout for ways to prepare myself. And as I don’t have living room access to Birdly—a full-body virtual reality device that gives you the sensation of soaring like a bird through the air—I’m having to settle on playing games such as Clouds Below.
The short description of this game is: you play a kid with eagle wings instead of arms and magical wind powers who is trying to chase a massive bird towards the top of a mountain. The longer version is the same but with a lot more “ooh” and “ahhh” along the way to compensate for the glorious sensation of launching yourself into the air, a spiral of gust, and then unfolding your wings to glide between sky islands while the clouds stretch out below as if an ocean of cotton. It’s all very pretty.
And I want to emphasize that this kid doesn’t just perform a regular jump. One of the buttons does but it’s pretty useless when you can twirl upwards to about ten times the height at the press of another button. I did this a lot, especially in the beginning, almost missing out on an entire town of snoozing huts as I dared to soar over the top. Later, this cluttered terrestrial exploration gives way to larger stretches of space made for you to fly across, toward beautiful distant vistas. You also need to operate wind-based contraptions, using your powers to send colorful fans into a tiz, and soon after, making practical use of that upwards gust to bounce off large red drums to new heights.
All of this is much more impressive considering that what is currently available is a prototype that was hashed together in just seven weeks by a team of five. Sure, there are some hitches here and there, but certainly nothing major that takes away from the experience. Mostly, it’s a delightful if brief flight from one ledge to another, giant aerospace between you to soar majestically, and the beautiful visuals do a good job of making that feel special.