Developer: Westone Bit Entertainment
Publisher: ININ Games
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Arcade, Other
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 30/11/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Clockwork Aquario is a retro two-dimensional platformer. After going through various development cycles, this game has hit the shelves boasting excellent visuals, intuitive gameplay, and a lovely accompanying soundtrack. Does it stand up against modern games? Or should it have been left in the dust? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Who are you Again?
The first time I booted up the game, I was welcomed by a vibrant and colourful menu select screen. Though it was a fine welcome, I did not learn anything about the backstory or motives of the characters. This was fine and did not really impact my experience, but made the ending a bit strange, as I was fighting someone I had not heard much about.
Where this did disappoint me was in the lack of a tutorial. When I booted up the game for the first time, I did not get to learn how to play the game, I simply began my journey. Even though most of the concepts were self-explanatory, some were confusing. The lack of a tutorial made me discover the mechanics myself. Despite this initial confusion, I was able to figure out the fundamentals with little stress. Yet even after completing the game, I am not sure I learned how to properly manoeuvre the characters. A tutorial would have been a very welcome addition, even if it were optional.
Searching for Score
Since there was no tutorial at the beginning of the game, I was left to decide between the various difficulty settings for the game without much guidance. Moreover, as I looked through the settings, I noticed that they did not change much. The only difference in the modes lied in the number of continues I was allotted. Though the various difficulty selections give some reason to revisit the title, the game is the same regardless of the difficulty, and there is not much drastic change. Thus, I found very little reason to revisit the title once I had completed it.
Even though the difficulty options did not add much to my experience with the game, the core gameplay experience was a lot of fun. I travelled through various distinct landscapes and fought interesting enemies. Each stage had a mini-boss and a final boss, so completing each level felt meaningful. Killing these enemies awarded me with points, and I attempted to achieve a high score in each level by killing a lot of enemies consecutively. I enjoyed seeing my score improve with every enemy I killed, but I never paid too much attention to it. If you are passionate about scores, this may offer additional reason to revisit the title. Even without heavy emphasis on the score, the levels were fluid and fun to explore.
This fulfilment was further amplified by the simplistic character abilities. They could punch enemies, jump around, and lift enemies to hurl at others. I did not need to learn intricate attack combinations as I did in Okinawa Rush, yet I still enjoyed going around and killing enemies. Even though the manoeuvres themselves were simple, chaining them together and evading enemy attacks proved challenging. There was ample depth in the levels.
The game made these levels more manageable by including a couple of powerups. One replenished my health while another made me invincible and granted me an all-powerful attack, expelling stars from my character. These were fun to find and made killing enemies worthwhile. However, sometimes I would find invincibility during a boss fight, which cheapened the experience and detracted from my reward of defeating a ferocious foe. Still, these items expanded my experience and were fun to encounter.
Despite being filled with many good experiences, Clockwork Aquario is seriously set back by its extremely brief playtime. I was able to complete the game in around an hour, and that includes getting accustomed to the controls and a few failed attempts. Even though there are multiple characters and various difficulty settings, the game plays nearly identically regardless, so there is little variation in additional playthroughs. It is challenging to recommend such a brief game when it is listed at £16.99. Though nearly every element of the game was fun, the price point is very steep considering the amount of content and the number of levels.
Even though there is a shortage of content, I can easily see myself revisiting Clockwork Aquario for the sake of enjoying it again, even without new levels or additional content. The characters are rewarding to play as once I learned their abilities, the world features interesting enemies, and the boss fights are fun to triumph.
To supplement the gameplay, Clockwork Aquario features stunning visuals and a lovely accompanying soundtrack. I thought both were excellent. The colours were vibrant and distinct, they stood out from other games as well. Even the enemies look like nothing I had seen before, with flying fish, angry clams, and plenty of mechanical monsters. The soundtrack was also excellent. It reminded me of the music in Sonic Mania. The developers included the entire soundtrack in the release, which does add some value to the game. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation in this game.
Clockwork Aquario is an excellent game held back by a short length. Since there are few reasons to revisit the title and an already brief runtime, it is extremely challenging to recommend at the current price point. Plus, the lack of guidance and context from the developer makes completing this title less rewarding. Regardless, the gameplay which I find to be most important was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed exploring these innovative and unique environments. I enjoyed my time with Clockwork Aquario and cannot wait to see what the developers produce next.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase Clockwork Aquario from the Nintendo eShop here
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