Lair of the Clockwork God – Review

Lair of the Clockwork God was bought with Iain’s own money.

As with any critical site, this one is a reflection of my own loves, hates, and everything in between. I don’t talk often about the world of computer games, but I am a keen PC gamer with a decent setup who enjoys that side of gaming as much as I do the cardboard worlds that I concentrate on most of the time. Today however I ask you to venture once more with me into the digital realm. Let us enter The Lair of the Clockwork God!

Apocalypses, Apocalypsi?

Lair of the Clockwork God is the latest game from Five Size Games and designers Dan Marshall and Ben Ward, whose previous efforts have all been about the point and click adventuring with a big dose of humour, featuring avatars of themselves. This time out you are guiding Ben and Dan through the apocalypses, all of them.

This is quite a Piccadily you’ve gotten us into (the jokes in the game are better than that I promise!)

Kicking off with a race through apocalyptic London we get to know our two protagonists. Ben is an old school point and click adventurer, solving problems through logic and combining, not ‘crafting’, things from his inventory. His buddy Dan may be shorter in stature but is the man of action. Action platforming that is. Jumping and running his way through his problems, and appreciating the deep and meaningful scenery. Together these two form an undefeatable team, ready to take on the greatest of challenges. Or they might just be two idiots in the wrong place at the right time. You decide!

Soon after finding sucker from the relentless apocalypsi, the friends find a mysterious AI that can help sort everything out, if only it knew how to feel! So begins your journey into multiple levels of deep emotional gaming, or at least a bunch of levels named after emotions, pointing, clicking, and jumping your way to solutions.

The combination of these two disparate game types feels genuinely fresh and interesting, allowing the designers to switch between the two game modes when too long in one might frustrate. Both point & click adventures and indie platformers have one thing in common; moments of frustration where you bash up against the game and can’t proceed. Often this is solved by putting the game aside and coming back to it later, or sometimes never at all depending on the road block. Here the game flips between the two modes frequently, giving relief in a new approach to the game that allows you to push through the potential moments of frustration.

The puzzles are clever but not obscure and I only found myself looking for answers outside of the game a couple of times. The platforming can be pretty tricky in places but the designers have been nice enough to introduce a slider that allows you to adjust the difficulty of these sections.

That’s your lot for screenshots. Makes sure to go into it as spoiler free as possible.

Much as I enjoyed the game play, the aspect of the game that really shines through is its humor. Ben & Dan’s repartee is funny, at times touching, and takes a satirical look at the tropes of their respective genres. It takes a lot for a game to genuinely make me laugh out loud, but Lair of The Clockwork God had me doing so on multiple occasions.

The satirical tone never feels mean. The two designers obviously love the games they are lampooning and their is a warmth to the jokes, without which the game could just have ended up being a rant. Several gags left me blown away by the setup and execution, and there is a real attention to detail in the writing that is sadly lacking in a lot of computer games.

Tick, Tock

Lair of the Clockwork God is a genuinely innovative mashup of two genres, where neither one feels sidelined, allowing the designers to constantly provide new challenges without frustrating. It lampoons gaming conventions with a wry smile and a knowing wink, never taking its foot off the gas as it propels you through another level full of jokes, puzzles and platforming. I loved every moment of my time with the game and I thoroughly recommend it to you as a real diamond amongst the often overwhelming number of indie game releases.

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