Lair of the Clockwork God
Developer: Size Five Games
Publisher: Ant Workshop
Genre: Action, Adventure, Puzzle
Platform: Xbox One
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 04/09/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Lair of the Clockwork God entertains from the outset. It’s infused with a generous helping of witty, banter-style humour that does not falter throughout the game. But… did the rest of this indie adventure from Size Five Games measure up?
The Nitty Gritty
You play with two characters in Lair of the Clockwork God: Ben and Dan. They each have different capabilities which you utilise to complete different parts of each level. Ben can interact with objects, talk to characters and craft items. He also has an inventory where he can store things that you pick up along the way. Ben can’t jump though, so he is reliant on Dan moving objects or standing on pressure pads when he needs to go up or downhill (unless there’s a gradual gradient).
Dan can jump, so he’s the character you need to use to explore an area to the fullest extent. He can also defeat enemies, pull and push heavy objects and carry things when necessary. Dan’s abilities get upgraded by some of the creations that you craft with the items in Ben’s inventory.
The Lair of the Clockwork God story begins with Ben and Dan in Peru searching for a flower to cure cancer but quickly turns into a crusade to avoid the apocalypses (no that’s not a typo, apocalypses, plural!). Since you’re living through the apocalypses, things go a little topsy-turvy. Pockets of alternate gravity open up and you meet a pleasantly odd bunch of characters as you solve puzzles in a bid to prevent the apocalypses from coming to fruition.
A Word About the Youth
I think that Lair of the Clockwork God merits the PEGI 18 age rating. It’s not just the frequency of swearing or references to alcohol and tobacco that make it more suited to an older audience. In my opinion, a lot of the jokes are aimed at a more mature gamer and the context behind a lot of these jokes may go over the heads of, or perhaps be misinterpreted by, younger gamers. Of course, there will be mature sixteen or seventeen-year-olds to whom this won’t apply but perhaps that almost goes without saying.
Once More, With Humour
I mentioned the humour in Lair of the Clockwork God at the beginning of the review; I think this is a real strength. You encounter it in every element of the game. I was impressed with the lack of generic responses from characters. For example, when experimenting with using items from Ben’s inventory, he gave individual retorts for things that shouldn’t be used in a certain place or on a certain character.
This attention to detail gives the game a good depth and creates the impression that the characters are engaging with the individual player. Another great example is if you try to get Ben to jump – rather than simply not jumping (he’s old school point and click, don’t you know) he has a few thoughts to share with you about the merits of leaving that to the platformers.
I often found myself laughing out loud at the exchanges between Ben and Dan, and maybe dying once or twice as a result! It’s just the kind of barrage of sarcastic insults you’d expect between two long-term best friends. The timing and unexpected twists and turns of the ripostes in Lair of the Clockwork God are excellent. I’m not someone who will often find something funny enough to laugh out loud, so for me the jokes really hit the mark.
The humour is not limited to the comments that come out of Ben and Dan’s mouths. You meet many weird and wacky characters whose logic is the opposite of Vulcan. Even Ben and Dan (whose logic can be a little shaky at the best of times) struggle to keep up with some of the other characters’ rationalisation of events. All of this comes together to create increasingly amusing dialogues and stranger situations to resolve with progressively more bizarre solutions.
Think Outside the Box, Outside the Box
I love a good puzzle, but Lair of the Clockwork God tested me. Sometimes the clues were obvious. At others, they had me scouring every inch of the screen and trying to craft bizarre combinations of inventory items in the hope that a bra and a dead hand could craft a… thing that just might, maybe, do… something! It was fun though, and sometimes it worked. Maybe once… It was more fruitful following the clues in all honesty. Wherever they may lead you…
There’s a Bug in My Adventure
I encountered a few bugs while playing Lair of the Clockwork God but the dev team were quick to respond and act. One of the bugs was fixed in a patch while I was completing my play-though (I don’t think I was the first to report this one) and I was assured that the other couple of bugs would be addressed in the next patch. Can’t ask for more than that really.
A Game Within a Game
In addition to the main game, there is also a visual novel game included called Devil’s Kiss. It’s not a taxing read and the humour from Lair of the Clockwork God is maintained throughout. Personally, I didn’t find it as engaging as the main game, but that’s not surprising since I have a preference for more interactive games. However, I think it does serve its purpose to give you some useful backstory on the two main characters and it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the humour for a bit.
And the Verdict Is…
Lair of the Clockwork God does what it promises: it mixes two different styles of gameplay and it does it well. Add to that a large dose humour, subtract almost all logic and you have an original and captivating adventure to puzzle and belly-laugh your way through. If that sounds like your cup of tea, find a dead hand to reach the switch for the kettle (whilst wearing a bra outside your clothes – not your own, of course) and get stuck in.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can buy Lair of the Clockwork God for the Xbox One from the Microsoft Store.