The gaming industry is an amazing thing. It constantly flexes and moves with the times. It’s right on point with all the latest trends and somehow produces something for everybody. As generations evolve, tastes change and my latest review title have exploited this understanding. It attempts to juxtapose two genre’s to create an amusing, in-depth, and challenging point and click and platform adventure. Lair of the Clockwork God has you controlling two friends from university; Ben and Dan. It has been developed and published by Size Five Games, and they want you to experience a retro title with a twist.
In this game, you are tasked with overcoming many puzzles by using each of our lead character’s strengths. “What strengths are these?” I hear you say. Ben is a master of the point and click genre, he is feeble, and refuses to take on any task that involves strength or manual labour. Dan is his polar opposite and loves all things platforming. He uses his brawn instead of his brains to overcome any obstacle in his way. Think of the game Lost Vikings and you’ll get a rough idea of how this one plays out. Individually, they can move the game forward, but you’ll find that 9 times out of 10, working as a team will be required to succeed.
So now we know that teamwork is a must, and failure is all but guaranteed if they don’t work together. But what’s the aim of this game? It begins with a straightforward approach. You are introduced to the game mechanics, as the pair search for a flower that will help to cure cancer. Once you obtain the prized object, you return to London to complete your mission. This is where the plot takes a twist, the city is destroyed. A giant creature is smashing the place up, and you have to run for your life. “How can the apocalypse have begun while you were away?” The answer to this question is found at the bottom of a locked shed. A guardian computer has lost all his memories of human emotions, without them, he feels no empathy towards humanity, and will not help to stop the apocalyptic monster. This is where the true nature of the game lies, and you must collect pieces of RAM, and complete a mixture of emotional stages to teach this super controller what he has forgotten. If you fail in your mission, humanity as we know it will be over. (So, no pressure then!)
The plot is normally the key component that helps move the story forward, but in Lair of the Clockwork God the game mechanics and premise are your focus. The plot is punctuated by jokes, and puns that mock the stereotypes of each of the genres, but it acts in a support role.
Players will use all their energy solving the problems and working out what each of the characters must do in order to succeed. Ben uses his love of logic, and his delicate hands to complete puzzles. He picks up objects to store in his inventory, and he flips switches to open doors. He is the one who can be trusted to search an area for clues, and piece together the information to help you proceed. Dan can move objects, leap gaps, and perform all the generic platforming traits. At the start, each character works separately, making the action slow and arduous. Eventually Dan agrees to carry Ben across gaps and up stairs. This not only increases the pace of the game, but it also ups the difficulty. The problems you face are rarely straightforward, and most require items in Ben’s inventory, and objects from the surrounding areas to be combined so you can proceed. This is quite a lot to comprehend, and for me at least, I struggled with the action clicking. Everything felt like a chore. Unfortunately, there was more guess work than logical thinking. This made the gameplay feel like a game of chance and quite hollow.
This title’s saving grace was its amusing story and well written script. Some language used is rude and isn’t suitable for a younger audience. I genuinely belly laughed at several points, and I’m glad I did, otherwise I would have binned this off long before I finished playing it. This hilarious and absurd style of writing is also present in the visual novel Devils Kiss. This VN is gifted to players who have the Deluxe edition, and it helps to explain how the 2 friends met. It’s a short story, but well worth the time. I was shocked and amused throughout and guarantee that you will be as well.
The main game is a side-scrolling 2D affair that’s grainy to look at. It was reminiscent of Day of the Tentacle, and it had a retro art style. The tone and colour palette used, made it feel like it should be played on an 80s gaming machine. With the use of an old school genre such as a point and click adventure, this nod to the past worked well. As I played, I noted several glitches. The developers are aware of some of these, but it’s worth mentioning just in case they haven’t been resolved at release. If Dan lands on Ben’s head, he falls into the ground, and you must jump out in order to carry on. The second is the text dialogue cuts itself off mid sentence, and you never find out the conclusion of many of the discussions. Neither of them are game breaking, but after a while they get to be annoying. Both issues that I discovered need to be resolved, otherwise it will tarnish the gaming experience.
I found the audio to be underwhelming, it felt dated, and unlike the graphics which successfully combined the old with the new, the sound added nothing to the game. I hate to say it, but it was quite bland and generic. In a title that was trying to be edgy and do something new, it missed the mark by a considerable distance.
I’ve mentioned how the gameplay was slow, well this was compounded by how sluggish the control system was. Completing any task with Ben requires several submenus, holding of buttons, and using the analogue sticks. On console, it’s a bit of a mess, but I think it would work well with a mouse and keyboard. However, once you get to grips with the control system, it is surprisingly easy to play. The platform element is simple enough to master. But, if you try this, you will have to take the rough with the smooth.
This isn’t the easiest of games to play. It takes a lot of luck, guessing, and hard work to complete. As such, it will only appeal to a specific audience of hardcore retro gamers. With some collectibles to find, and a tough achievement list, this has an element of replay value (if you can get over the shortcomings). Now that I’ve finished it, will I return to try it again? No, once was enough for me. In all honesty, I don’t think I could face all the puzzles again.
Fusing two juxtaposing genre’s together was always going to be a challenge, and one that the developers have achieved. A combination of wit, sarcasm, and old school difficulty glue together the opposing ideas. This will not appeal to everyone and wasn’t a game that I enjoyed as much as I thought I would. Do I recommend that you try it? Unfortunately, no. I know that there will be a market for it, and it will be loved by a specific group of players, but for me, everything felt like a chore, and I didn’t enjoy myself. Can you teach a guardian computer to understand human emotions? I hope so, because if you can’t, the world is going to end.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Lair of the Clockwork God Review
Gameplay - 4/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 4/10
Replay Value - 4/10
User Review( votes)
A brilliant blend of 2 genres that is funny and strange. However, it somehow manages to miss the mark.
- Nice retro graphics.
- The 2 genres blend well together.
- The script is hilarious.
- Devil’s kiss was the best part for me.
- Unadventurous audio.
- Slow gameplay.
- Tedious controls.
- Too much guess work when solving puzzles.