Lair of the Clockwork God – Review

In Lair of the Clockwork God, we help a screwball duo survive all the apocalypses. To point-and-click, or to platform? Here’s what we think.

If I had to pitch you Lair of the Clockwork God in just one sentence, I’d say this: Lair of the Clockwork God is one of the cleverest games I’ve ever played. See, puzzle games have to be clever to be good. Comedies also need to be clever to be good. Lair of the Clockwork God is clever in both ways. That makes it twice as clever. It’s mathematics. My favourite puzzle in the game, which I won’t spoil, involved helping a character walk across an apartment room while he suffered a hangover. The solution to this seemingly impossible puzzle was so ingenious, that I had to take my hands off of the keyboard and mouse. That’s it, I thought. You can’t make a puzzle cleverer or funnier than this.

In Lair of the Clockwork God, British screwballs Dan and Ben find themselves in the middle of all the apocalypses. Not one, not two, but all of the apocalypses, which are happening all at once. There’s UFOs, and skeleton dinosaurs, and everything is collapsing and on fire, and there’s even dead clown entrails. It’s the end(s) of the world. As Dan and Ben escape to safety, they find a computer capable of stopping the end of the world. The catch? It first needs to learn human emotions to empathise with human beings. The duo must now run through a set of simulations, which will demonstrate such emotions as joy, fear, grief, and so on. Above all else, Lair of the Clockwork God is a send-up to indie games. It makes fun of everything from classic LucasArts adventure games to allegorical platformers to visual novels and even in-game microtransaction stores.

See, of the two, Ben is a traditionalist. He’s a point-and-click adventurer who refuses to jump, or even run. He’d much rather talk and pick up objects and use ridiculous logic to solve inventory puzzles. His best friend Dan is a platformer. Dan’s all about the new hotness in indie games: metaphors and allegories expressed through the fine arts of jumping and wall-grabbing. With this central conceit, Lair of the Clockwork God throws our heroes through a varied whirlwind of levels, each one with its own theme. There’s always something new to expect with this game. In one level, I was whisked onto a horrored-up space station. In another, Dan jumped across fountains of beer. In yet another level, Ben convinced a young man to smoke a bubble pipe instead of an e-Cigarette, all so that Dan can jump on a bubble and retrieve a bra his size. It’s one of the main joys of the game: that you never know what hilarious game-skit is coming up next.

Lair of the Clockwork God walkthrough

Lair isn’t the first game to parody video games or their mechanics. What sets it apart, however, is that the game sets up its jokes and executes them with a level of sincerity that you rarely see in video games, even humorous ones. It’s a lot like a good horror game, really. The game draws you in with charm before its pay-off smashes the cymbals. Lair of the Clockwork God is full of irreverent British humour. Witty jokes are handed out charitably, and the banter is all so well-written that I can’t help but pity the fool who uses the game’s slider to reduce Dan and Ben’s chattering. And yet, none of it is mean-spirited. ‘Irreverent’ humour too often falls into the trap of condescension and nihilistic finger-pointing, but Lair of the Clockwork God is as much a celebration of the indie game genres as it is a montage of parody skits. There’s a genuine respect here, and that counts for a lot.

Lair of the Clockwork God clocks in at a meaty 10 hours of playtime. Your time is about evenly divided between legitimate platforming and classically illogical point-and-click adventuring (the latter being the mainstay of Dan and Ben’s previous games, which you don’t need to play to enjoy this one). All the while, you have a delicious icing of unrelenting, often fourth-wall-breaking humour. It’s the perfect balance of textures. In trying to accommodate two different genres under one turbulent roof, Size Five Games has made concessions towards both. The platforming can be tough, but it’s far from impossible, and has almost no penalty to it. Meanwhile, the point-and-clicking is fantastically guided by hints from the characters. It’s a fine balance to strike, but with humour and trust, the game guides you along its puzzles without ever feeling like it’s holding your hand.

Lair of the Clockwork God is an irresistibly funny and thoroughly rambunctious adventure that had me full of amusement and admiration. It’s made its mark in the hall of fame for comedy games.

Developer: Size Five Games
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Publisher: Size Five Games
Release Date: 21st February 2020 (PC, Mac, Linux)

This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the developer. The PC version of the game was played for this review of Lair of the Clockwork God.

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A jack of all trades, Lair of the Clockwork God succeeds as a hilarious comedy, a puzzle adventure game, and a platformer all at once.

This Article was written by: Rahul Shirke

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