It was always a deep regret of mine that I had missed out on the Golden Age of point-and-click adventure games. As I may have mentioned before, I never had a competent PC growing up, and despite that my dad was very protective of it. We installed StarCraft on it once, and even that was a massive upheaval. While it’d be easy for me to go back and play games like King’s Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Monkey Island or Grim Fandango as an adult, part of me will always lament missing them when they were at the height of popularity.
That’s why it makes me so happy that the point-and-click genre has made a massive resurgence thanks to many of Telltale’s offerings into the franchise. Telltale’s many series have proven that the demand for point-and-clicks are still present and all it needs are for creative developers to do interesting things with the genre. Sometimes you get Dropsy, sometimes you get Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink. You win some, you lose some.
Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink tells the story Dr. Ambrose Ink, an inventor or scientist of some sort who is investigating strange earthquakes which are causing whole cities to sink into the ground. He is kidnapped by his arch nemesis Master Inventor Barber when it seems Ink is onto his devious plan. Players take on the role of Agent Evangeline Glass, master spy and good friend to Ink, who must solve all the puzzles and save the day.
It’s really not terrible as far as stories go; however, it is so poorly told throughout the course of the game that I felt little of it actually engaging. You sort of just go through the motions at your own pace, with only the game to tell you that a situation is dangerous, never actually eliciting that emotion. At no point did there ever feel like there was any urgency in my quest, unlike many of the current point-and-click games and even those of the past (I can even think of some pretty tense moments from King’s/Space Quest).
What’s more, it tries to borrow the Steampunk setting for no better reason than because it can. It never ventures anywhere interesting with the setting, outside of the one mechanical bird companion you get which is a painfully obvious puzzle tool to reach any object out of arm’s reach. Nothing about the setting finds its way into puzzles or the story. You could swap it with literally any other genre or setting and it would work all the same.
The game is incredibly lacklustre as well. Puzzles are laughably easy, never venturing out of some of the puzzles you’d find at the start of Professor Layton, only with less imagination and an actual “Solve Me” button, if you can’t be bothered. At many points within the game you’ll be forced to play I Spy, and these sections were so mediocre that I actually found myself just slowly scanning my cursor across the screen, mashing the A button until I found every object.
Aesthetically, Clockwork Tales is pretty good. It has a nice painted style and some really pretty backdrops to explore. There are only a handful of times when characters have facial animations, and while their models are pretty nice, the animations themselves are incredibly janky and very off-putting. I can’t tell if this was a massive design flaw, or trying to evoke the janky animations of the Golden Age of point-and-clicks.
Overall, I can’t recommend Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink, not when there are so many other better point-and-clicks out there. I ended up finishing the game in an hour (and I’m not exaggerating, I actually timed it), and when it said I unlocked the secret second chapter, I couldn’t be bothered to explore it. The game offers no challenge, a lacklustre story, and nothing for the player to get attached to.