Clockwork is a title that has me divided. On one hand it is a game that captured my attention and had me smiling from ear to ear at times despite some flaws, but on the other hand I encountered more bugs than a ham sandwich left out on a hot Christmas day for an hour. It leaves me just wondering how magical it really could have or should have been.
Clockwork tells the story of a boy robot named Atto who discovers his trusty watch is not only alive but can manifest as a blue being named Milli. Between them they must save the city of Watchtower while they have the time. Watchtower is a city inhabited by robots and as such has a very steampunk design which looks really nice and even though steam punk designs are used plentifully these days it still felt unique and new as part of this package.
Gameplay consists mainly as a sides rolling puzzle game and for the most part it plays like you would expect, run left or right, jump over objects, pull switches and travel up elevators. The hook however is with the time travel Milli brings to the table. At certain points in stages you run past a restore point. You then proceed to do actions like run down an area you cannot return from and pull a switch which opens something near the restore point. You then end that to start at the restore point with a blue version of yourself proceeding to complete the actions you set in real time. Levels quickly involve layering these ghosts each standing on switches and pulling levers to get you to the end of the Level. It is a new spin on an existing idea and thanks to it running so well and some great Level designs it is so much fun.
The difficulty can spike rapidly and drop back down to easy which may annoy some but after thinning for a while on a Level a relatively simple one is an easy way to stay engaged.
The Level design is not the only design I fell in love with. The character design and scenery are gorgeous. The city is very metallic and mechanical and the use of a light glowing blue really pops. This is used for minor details on things such as the eyes of a character and is very striking in contrast with the rest of the imagery on screen which lifts it from being just good looking to memorable. Milli in body form is also the same glowing blue which also stands out so beautifully on the scenery.
But while I may be glowing about the things I love about Clockwork, it is not without its flaws. One minor design issue I have is the character movements look off, especially the legs when moving. They do not look mechanical, they just look like that animation was mildly overlooked and while it is minor it was noticeable. The other issue I had with the game was the character voices. They are all speaking their own language in annoying voices which are basically repeated sounds. It gets annoying really quickly, to the point I occasionally took my headphones off during dialogue.
On top of this is the bugs. Clockwork has been fixed significantly since I previewed it but it is still far from bug free. Fortunately, none were game breaking like one I encountered in preview, the bulk of them are just bits not reacting like they should, like going through things that you are not supposed to be able to. Every bug I encountered was minor like that but they were relatively regular which is just unfortunate.
Ultimately Clockwork is a game I love. It is so very close to ready but all of those bugs just dampen the whole experience. So while I cannot totally recommend the game right now, when it is ironed out it is absolutely something that should be looked at by someone after a good looking casual puzzle game with a lot of heart.
Released: October 2016
Platforms: PC (Windows 7 or higher)
Genre: Platformer, Puzzle