Dr. Ambrose Ink, one of the greatest minds of the technical revolution, has been investigating a series of earthquakes which have been destroying the world’s cities in its wake. His research has led him to the quiet mountain-side town of Hochwald, where events take a turn for the worst.
In an attempt to stop Dr. Ink from discovering his plan, the dastardly General Engineer of Gottland kidnaps Dr. Ink, and it is up to his longtime friend, and confidante, Agent Evangeline Glass to come to his rescue.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games such as Professor Layton, you will be right at home with Clockwork Tales: Of Glass Ink. You start off with the standard point and click affair, travelling between scenes and interacting with the local characters, gathering clues as to why Dr. Ink has been kidnapped. Before you know it, you’re collecting items to unlock hidden rooms, solving various mini-games, and saving yourself from the General Engineers’ henchmen.
Visually, Clockwork Tales is really quite charming, and the illustrated style suits the title perfectly. Although it advertises itself as such, it isn’t obnoxiously steampunk but rather more traditional Victorian in its approach. Each scene is vibrant and full of life, but never appears cluttered and navigating between the scenes is almost effortless.
Although Clockwork Tales is visually very good, the audio aspect could have done with the care and attention the artwork received. The base soundtrack is as expected, with its simple dramaticism, however the dialogue was often lacklustre and poorly recorded. Some of the voice actors portrayed their character with the depth required, but others were flat and lacking in character. This didn’t spoil the game for me, as such, but with Dr. Ink and Evangeline Glass being so vibrant and rounded, the lesser voice acting was obvious.
Although a little short, and taking just over 2 hours to complete the first chapter, Clockwork Tales is a surprisingly addictive puzzler. Much like other point and click adventure titles, such as Broken Sword or Secret of Monkey Island, you are tasked with filling your inventory with helpful tools and objects, some of which are combined to help you solve the mystery of Dr. Ink’s disappearance. However, Clockwork Tales also mixes in other mini puzzles to keep the gameplay feeling fresh and enticing.
Whilst exploring the environments, you will be given special hints to areas in which you need to investigate, which become hidden-item games, where you scour the screen crossing off items as you find them. Unfortunately it’s quite easy to just hit the A button over and over until all items have been crossed off, as there’s no penalty for identifying incorrect objects. Also, some of the descriptions of the items aren’t quite clear, so you’ll often find yourself clicking on what you think is the correct item, when in fact it’s not. Other mini games feature you having to move a key through a lock but having to pass it through every point of the maze, or rotating discs until the image lines up, adding an extra dynamic to the gameplay. As ever with these types of mini puzzles, quite often I would be sat there looking for a solution which was blindingly obvious, but most were fairly easy and quick to complete.
Once you complete the first chapter, you unlock a second which takes the story back two weeks before Dr. Ink was capture, giving his perspective of the events occurring in Hochwald. There is also the option of playing both chapters with normal or hard difficulty, increasing the replayability somewhat.
Overall, Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink is an excellent way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. It’s not an overly taxing affair, but perfect to wind down and relax with. It is now available to download from the Xbox store for £7.99.
Thanks to Xbox and Artifex Mundi for their support.
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