Review: Clockwork Tales – Xbox One

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Artifex Mundi, developer of adventure game/hidden object hybrid titles such as Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart, are back on Xbox One with Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink – is it deserving of your hard earned? Read on!
Pleasingly, Artifex have made a confident and smooth port of the PC version. Using the same, user friendly control scheme that fans of the studio have become accustomed to, there is a striking visual flair to the beautiful painted screens you’ll find yourself navigating and, combined with its steam-punk trappings, Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink is certainly unique.

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The story line is quite straightforward, which throws you begin with very little setup or background. You’re tasked with meeting an old inventor, who is also your mentor, at a village inn that’s dominated by a foreboding mountain castle – a village which has been beset by a series of recent earthquakes. Tasked with getting to the bottom of the seemingly natural disasters, the story largely takes a backseat to you piecing together clues and items from various scenes around the territory – think Myst merged with Monkey Island and you’re on the right path.

 

The backdrops are the real star of the show here; each vista is packed with detail and nuance, with every scene awash with a variety of colour and talent. Sadly, the voicework and music don’t stay at the same level as the visuals, being noticeably stronger in some areas than others. I feel that the story could have been developed further too – the villain of the piece has no motivations for his actions and it all feels a little threadbare throughout.

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Thankfully, Clockwork Tales features a number of interesting gameplay scenarios, with a steady mix of challenging puzzles and mini-games. If things get too mentally taxing (or, on occasion, frustrating) you do have the ability to receive clues as to item locations, a map that highlights areas where actions can be carried out and the ability to skip past puzzles. Most purists wouldn’t want to do it, but at least the options there for gamers who just want to progress at a relaxing and steady rate.
Which is the main draw of the game – it is relaxing, and enjoyable to boot. While the genre isn’t to everyone’s taste, Clockwork Tales is a perfect jumping off point to test the waters and see if this style of game is for you. It’s certainly cheap enough on Xbox Live, and i’s a steady, confident and well-made example of what the genre has to offer.

7.0

– Dave Green

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