Before you even start playing Lair of the Clockwork God, you’ll be snorting and laughing at the game’s tongue-in-cheek logo medley.
Eventually, you have to press a button, or else you’ll be subjected to logos for Wank Technologies and Bellend Digital for all eternity. But let’s just say it sets the tone perfectly for what’s to come.
LotCG is hilarious. Like, honestly, full-on belly-laugh funny. It immediately breaks the fourth wall – comparing people to platformers and introducing us to devs who are looking for inspiration on their next big narrative experience. Dan Marshall and Size Five Games have gone at this looking to have some fun and it shows.
Satirical games don’t have much of a place in the modern market. They were pretty common for me growing up, but nowadays games have a much more serious deposition with a focus on epic setpieces and sprawling, multi-layered narratives.
Clockwork God does play on this a little bit as you play both Dan and Ben. Dan is the adventuresome type, he likes to push boxes, run through fire, and take big jumps across spikes and gaping chasms. Ben, however, won’t even jump just a little bit, he carries ridiculously oversized things in his inventory – including a full bladder – and seemingly sets out to do all things in the slowest way possible.
Basically, the game has built a commentary around the classic point and click adventures that claimed all the headlines in the early 90s and the eventual surge into the action-oriented platforming with puzzle-solving elements, headlined by the likes of Tomb Raider. It also successfully marries up the protagonists of two PC only titles – Ben There, Dan That and Time, Gentlemen Please – so is something of a sequel if you played and loved those games.
And here’s the unexpected twist – Dan Marshall and co have found a really smart, clever, and entertaining way to combine both genres. In some situations, Dan will need to give Ben a ‘Piggyback’ to help speed the action up a little bit, but Ben will also need to clear some obstacles by solving puzzles and combine items – sorry, CRAFT items – to ‘level up’ and ‘upgrade’ Dan’s abilities.
So, yes, on the surface, Lair of the Clockwork God seems like its riffing on multiple games and topics, and its fourth-wall humour suggests it doesn’t take itself at all seriously. While that’s arguably true, the mechanics of the game, the way the genres mash-up, and the game’s developing narrative go much deeper than it might first seem.
Getting a game like this on Switch and Xbox seems like something of a small miracle because of the nature of its mechanics and humour, but it’s such a breath of fresh air – both in the way it controls and how many times I laughed in its opening ten-minute sequence. It’s come at a good time with a spate of heavy games now launched and a new generation looming on the horizon and serves as a perfect palette cleanser.
It reminds you of the fun and experimentation that only indie games can provide, but it also does so in a way that makes you laugh like no other game on the market right now. There’s fun in-jokes, of course, but it’s the basic stuff that just floored me. Like when I hit a fuse box open with a size 13 boot and Ben says ‘I gave it some welly’. Gone…
Before I close this, I must also commend a really well-produced soundtrack that manages to perfectly compliment the game’s unique sense of style and humour, adding the right amount of tension and upbeat tempo to strike a perfect balance. Masterful.
For real, we need more games like Lair of the Clockwork God, especially at a time when the world isn’t in the happiest of places. There’s enough unique, interesting, and different about this game to get you hooked, but it’s the humour that’ll keep you and make you stay to the end.
Thanks for giving me something to smile about, Size Five Games. Playing this made me realise I’ve definitely not being doing enough of that this year.
+ The funniest game I’ve played on Switch
+ Smart crossover of established mechanics and they work well together
+ Puzzle solving gets the balance mostly right
+ A fantastic soundtrack
– Some sections do play out a little too similarly
Lair of the Clockwork God is now available on PC, Switch, and Xbox. It’s coming to PS4 soon.
Code kindly provided by the developer
Tested on Switch