Clockwork Tales : Of Glass And Ink – This Kind Of Pales – I’ll Pass, I Think…
After the last number of reviews, I started to notice some similarities in the games I was playing. There were several first-person games, with a Roguelike archetype and a consistent theme. While I am entitled to play whatever I fancy, I decided to mix things up a little and try some different games in my Steam library.
Enter Clockwork Tales : Of Glass And Ink!
Clockwork Tales is a traditional “point and click adventure” made for mobile systems, which has been ported for steam compatibility. As usual, this was part of a bundle of games which, I believe, all use the same engine. Many of the other games had sequels, so I decided to play the singleton game and see how it played.
The story in Clockwork Tales takes the form of a classic mystery. You, Evangeline Glass, have been message by your old friend, Dr Ambrose Ink, to “come quickly” for some important news. Upon meeting up, Dr Ambrose is kidnapped before your eyes and you need to find him, with the help of his mechanical bird. Clockwork Tales has a medium-strength, Steampunk aesthetic. What I mean by this is the world has steampunk influences such as zeppelins and quirky, impractical gadgets, but it doesn’t go so far as to lavish every character in cogs and miscellaneous junk. In fact, the visuals of this game are very nice to look at. The scenes of the game are all very detailed and it uses flash-style animation to fill in for cutscenes. The sound designs works alongside the gameplay and creates a nice, little immersive world. I imagine that playing this on a mobile device with a set of headphones would be a nice little escape from reality. The gameplay is fairly generic, as far as “point and click adventures” are concerned. The game takes on a first-person perspective [Ooooops] and lets you move around small areas of the world, looking for puzzles to solve. This is all introduced through a tutorial which shows you how to navigate between areas and interact with different features in each scene. This boils down to the cursor changing to different types to determine that action that will occur; Lips for talking, Magnifying Glass for examining, Question Mark for extra detail and a Hand to interact.
The system works well with a mouse; if you get lost, you can wave the mouse across the backdrop and see what highlights. I’m not sure how well this would have worked on a mobile device seeing as you would be clicking with your finger, rather than moving a cursor…
The puzzles themselves are the highlight and the lowlight of the game. My mind enjoys puzzles and whenever the opportunity came up, I was excited to see what would be on offer.
Unfortunately, they were often a bit too simplistic for me, maybe due to the fact Clockwork Tales redresses some classic puzzles, such as the “Measures of Water” puzzle, visual re-imagining of the “Log Jam” puzzle or the classic “Hidden Object” puzzles.
This doesn’t stop Clockwork Tales from making some new puzzles and giving you somewhat illogical solutions to simplistic problems. It would seem that Evangeline doesn’t like to get her hands messy and won’t touch snow; Better use an ambiguous-looking clockwork fan to blow the snow away…
This raises another issue which comes from the steampunk aesthetic. Some of the puzzle items are conventional items which are almost indiscernible due to their visual designs. Fortunately, if it is in your inventory, you can mouse over it and get a little label to tell you what it is; again, I’m not sure how this would have worked on the mobile platform, by comparison.
A little extra “puzzle” mechanic Clockwork Tales offers is in the form of Matthew, the robotic crow. He is a means of creating more puzzles. See an item you can’t reach? Click on Matthew and the items you want and he will fly over to get it. While this is a nice little twist and a thematic element of the world, I found I was often overlooking Matthew.
He is tucked away in the corner of the screen and his uses are frequent at the start of the game and quickly tail off. This left me scratching my head for long periods of time before realising the only option let was the robot crow. I came to the conclusion he was a means of padding out the game’s duration, which was a shame as he could have had better applications.
One of the aspects I enjoyed was the presence of a map. Clockwork Tales has you moving between multiple locations, solving puzzles and collecting items to resolve other situations. To help you navigate and fat-travel to the areas quickly, the game includes a map with icons showing you where unsolved puzzles and areas of interest are.
This certainly keeps the pace of the game up and allows you to circumnavigate areas of little interest and avoiding the sense of back-tracking continuously.
I finished the game after grinding through some very tedious, context sensitive puzzles I started the game on Expert difficulty. I can’t say that the puzzles seemed that much harder, but the map was less helpful in showing you where to go as the icon for “Available Actions” is removed.
The game does have a timed hint system incorporated to help you if you get really stuck, but I refused to use it and finished the game on Normal within 4/5 hours. The story is fairly flimsy and the puzzles do ramp up towards the end of the game. It is a shame that the game doesn’t have more unique puzzles and it has a tendency to pad out sections with Hidden Object puzzles which you revisit multiple times to find new items. It is a nice way to utilise the environment and pieces of artwork, but it does enforce the idea of back-tracking which the map mechanic seems to focused to avoid.
A strange aspect I noted was the sound in the game. The sound design is good; lots of ambience and immersion is present, but the soundtrack. It wasn’t until my second play through I realised the music was based around the ticking of a clock. I thought about this for a while I deemed it to be a very peculiar choice of sound. I then remembered the name of the game and facepalmed…
What I will say for the music is this: While I liked the arrangement of the music, the relentless ticking of a clock in the main pieces of music just made me VERY tired. I have never encountered this affect from music and I can only attribute it to the ticking sounds in the music, as it is such a unique feature for a score.
On higher difficulties, I didn’t notice any major changes to the puzzles. The game had removed the “Available Action” feature from the map making it a little less useful and slowing the pace. I’m not convinced that the game would be any less enjoyable at a higher difficulty and I don’t think the game would stand up on the replay-ability factor.
Overall, while I enjoyed Clockwork Tales for offering me a change of pace, I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it. If you are a fan of point-and-click puzzle games, you have probably already encountered Artifax Munid games and you’ll know whether this is for you. If you aren’t familiar, I don’t think this will be making the best impressions on you.
All frozen moments of time were retained by Ellen through Steam. The features depicted were created by Artifax Mundi and Ellen claims no ownership over them. If you want to find out more about them, your hint timer should reset in 37 seconds.
Last played and completed on 02/06/15 for Steam.