Ben and Dan are moderately unsung heroes of gaming. Their first two video games, the unfortunately PC-only Ben There, Dan That! and Time Gents, Please! have been extraordinarily conventional Lucasarts-esque point-and-click journey video games, that includes designers Ben Ward and Dan Marshall as – nominally – themselves.
11 years after their time-travelling journey, Ben and Dan have returned in Lair of the Clockwork God, a genre-melding mash-up in their vintage point-and-click antics with the extra en style indie platform recreation – an uneasy types conflict that is humorously weaved into the very meta-narrative.
Having taken willing observe of contemporary tendencies, Dan has taken on a brand new personality – rejecting Ben’s fastidious adherence to journey recreation tropes in favour of changing into a platformer hero, whole with periodic upgrades to his transfer set, together with the evergreen double leap.
The crux of Clockwork God’s gameplay, tale and puzzles all stem from this uneasy dichotomy; early within the recreation, for instance, adventurer Ben encounters a minuscule raised step and refuses to climb it, as doing so will be the movements of a platforming hero – now not a wannabe Guybrush Threepwood like him. How do you get Ben over this impassable step? Smartly, it comes to the invention of a wholly new form of gravity, desecrating the corpse of a clown and, er, urinating. Most commonly, although, it calls for the participant to change to Dan for a little bit of Tremendous Meat Boy-esque platforming amusing. The place Ben inspects and combines – sorry, crafts – pieces, Dan climbs partitions, dodges spikes, collects trinkets and runs gauntlets.
It is a piecemeal, awkward method via design, however we could not assist however wonder whether that in point of fact excused it. Making jokes out of the awkwardness papers over the cracks to an extent, however it reminded us of A Bard’s Story: Remastered and Resnarkled – you’ll be able to smart off about susceptible, drained gameplay all you need, but when the participant nonetheless has to undergo it, there is a drawback. To begin with, this did not take a seat too properly with us.
The key phrase, although, is to begin with. The earliest segments of Clockwork God set it up for us as a little bit of a unhappiness; traversing the similar floor with each characters felt time-consuming, and the puzzles appeared to be diversifications on having every persona stand on a transfer to decrease a platform for the opposite one. Fortunately issues pick out up fairly temporarily, and as soon as Dan good points the facility to present Ben a piggyback, the problem of retracing the stairs of every persona with the opposite is solved.
It is a little unusual, then, that Ben and Dan spend a excellent period of time solely separated. You would suppose the sport would capitalise on its distinctive premise, however no. Those person platforming and adventuring sections are well-designed and persistently entertaining however counsel most likely a insecurity within the genre-welding. The mutual Ben/Dan gameplay is the most efficient and maximum attention-grabbing a part of the sport, and it might be nice to have noticed it used persistently.
Something that Clockwork God is rightly assured in, alternatively, is its humour. It is very humorous and very British. Now and again, it strays somewhat too a long way into moderately hypocritical jabs at different video games, however the brunt of the joking stays Ben and Dan themselves; each the characters and the real-life other folks at the back of them. The information at the back of every other situation are robust and creative; you will want to see what they get a hold of subsequent.
The controls are neatly designed; with Ben, you at once keep an eye on him however use a context-sensitive menu to have him carry out his glance/communicate/pick out up movements when he passes the suitable hot-spots. Dan’s platforming controls are extra conventional, although we skilled a couple of dropped inputs on jumps, resulting in deaths and repeated sections.
Fortunately checkpoints are abundant, however technical problems appear to be a little bit of a virulent disease at the present incarnation of Clockwork God. The name display guarantees a coming near near replace, however as the sport is now, it ceaselessly chugs and hitches in Dan’s platforming ranges; we skilled full-second freezes each and every time we handed a checkpoint, occasionally after we have been mid-jump. The chugging framerate reduces the freewheeling delight in an early Sonic-inspired stage; a central shaggy dog story mocking product placement in outdated platform video games (suppose Zool‘s Chupa Chup endorsement) may be very humorous, however tricky to realize at what appears like a fluctuating 20 frames in line with moment.
In spite of those problems – and allowing for the promised patch – Lair of the Clockword God is, just like Dimension 5’s earlier heist-’em-up The Swindle, a beautiful recreation to have a look at. It is a massive step up from earlier Ben and Dan video games in its appears to be like, with nice persona designs, a excellent sense of scale and enjoyable use of color to create an environment that does not outshine the sport’s down-to-earth comedy.
Packed in with the sport as an advantage is the visible novel prequel Satan’s Kiss, telling the tale of the way Ben and Dan first met in school. It is as foolish and breezy as the primary recreation and with a number of excellent laughs, so make sure that to not pass over it.
Lair of the Clockwork God is a troublesome one to attain. What it does properly is sensible – the humour is superb, with consistent jokes each quickfire and slow-burn – however the gameplay is a extra complicated topic. Whilst it isn’t unhealthy via any cheap metric, it is awkward in puts. However, then, that is intentional and springs section and parcel with the tale, so will we deal with it extra leniently? Is there some hubris in presenting a improper recreation, however distracting from mentioned flaws via making them… roughly the purpose? It is a query that now not even Nintendo Existence can actually resolution, however we will be able to put a large quantity underneath a overview of the sport. We do our section.