The point-and-click genre seems to go hand in hand with the mystery or thriller storyline and because of this, a lot of games now combine the two. Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink is the next point and click style game to use the thriller storyline to tell its tale. Combining a number of different genres to take us on an adventure, Clockwork Tales is a short but interesting game with a rather unique style and addictive puzzles.
You are given the choice of difficulty before starting the game, which means gamers new to the genre or those unsure of their puzzling skills can choose normal to give themselves extra time and a little helping hand in finding what you’re looking for. You are then thrown straight into the story of Evangeline Glass, who is invited to Hochwald village to investigate an unusual series of earthquakes that don’t seem to have any particular cause. The rather peculiar story is told well, although it is told in a fairly short time frame, and comes to a rather abrupt end. Luckily, it is engaging enough to keep you happily playing through, and you’ll most likely run through the whole game in one sitting, partly because of the length and partly to find out the conclusion to the tale.
Clockwork: A Tale of Glass and Ink: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC
Developer: Artifex Mundi
Publisher: Artifex Mundi
Release Date: 22 January 2016
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
During the story, you will visit a few different locations and be challenged to complete a number of different puzzles at each one. Starting at an inn and ending in an underground laboratory, the puzzles vary from everything to concocting potions, to finding items for a dolls house to rebuilding your pet metal bird. The difficulty of these puzzles seems perfectly suited to both beginner and veteran puzzler, with the aforementioned hints and help available for those that need it. If logic really isn’t your thing, then most of the puzzles can be struggled through with a bit of trial and error, especially on ones when you are simply looking in a cluttered space for a particular list of items such as a kitchen parlour. Even if you follow the list, you might find yourself aimlessly clicking around the screen by the end anyway, as some of the items are harder to see, and sometimes your click on an item might not seem to register.
The game does everything it can to help you along the way and ensures you won’t get stuck wondering where to go next. A simple map allows you to fast travel to any of your visited locations, and a little spinning gear also tells you which area has a puzzle to complete or an item to pick up. Whilst each location is fairly small, there will be lots of different piles to dig through, cupboards to search and other areas to hunt through for items. Sometimes you may not have the item you need yet, so you’ll have to come back at a later time when you have the tool you need. This backtracking makes the game feel a little bigger than it actually is, but doesn’t feel like too much of a chore going back and forth between the same areas. The fast traveling also makes this job a little quicker and easier, but each area only needs you to click on the exit to leave as you can’t move your character about the rooms, only your cursor.
There is so much you can interact with in each room, with people as well and items to click on and find out what they do. Some of the people have quests or errands they want you to help them with, whereas others will simply just have a short sentence for you. The game still manages to give these people personalities too, and even add in a couple of current cultural references, such as the little girl in the inn with the cat singing the soft kitty song from Big Bang Theory, which is a really nice up to date touch to the game. It is the little things like this that make the game stand out from similar games in the genre, and fitting in with making itself stand out is the game’s theme and steampunk art style. The various cogs and machines scattered about, the clothes and attire of the characters and the things you will come across, such as your metal bird, all enhance this steampunk style, and it works for the game really well.
In this steampunk style world, you also have an extra job on top of completing the puzzles and the story. Hidden across the village and beyond are a number of different steam bugs, tiny little metal bugs you might just notice crawling about your screen. A simple click captures this bug, but there is one in nearly every location, and with an achievement to find all of them in each location, this is another good addition to have you thoroughly searching every area and paying just that little bit extra attention. These bugs are easily missable though, and you might not be able to come back to them once you have finished the game without another playthrough. Instead of playing through the game again, you might want to play the extra chapter which unlocks upon completion of the main game. This serves as a prologue, and gives you a bit of backstory to Prof. Ink, and why your character was called by him in the first place. This adds some extra playtime to the game, and is a nice little addition to the story in the same style with the same sort of puzzles.
The game’s soundtrack is fairly lighthearted but manages to suit what is going on in the story at the time. If the game picks up and gets a little tense, the music will reflect that although I personally found the sound of a timer/clock counting down a little annoying when I was trying to concentrate on the puzzles, especially as there didn’t seem to be any particular time limit that I came across. The cutscenes in the game serve well to break up the story, and they are done in the simplistic style of still pictures with the odd movement from a character or background figure, rather than a full blown video. One of the biggest criticisms I have of the game is its length, as I would have loved to be able to play it for longer and spend more time with characters and the story. The ending felt a little rushed, and even without following any kind of guide, I was still finished with the story and the extra chapter in only a few hours, although I did manage to split it up into a couple of sittings.
Clockwork Tales doesn’t break any new ground in terms of its genre, but it does manage to stand out on its own by having a fairly unique style and an interesting story. The music and overall look to the game make it a more than enjoyable experience to play through, and one of the biggest disappointments is how short the game ended up being. Even if puzzles are not your forte, the game helps you along every step of the way, without outright telling you what to do. This is a perfect starting game for someone new to the point and click genre, but also a game that puzzle adventure fans will definitely enjoy.