The makers of Grim Legends have done it again with yet another lovely Hidden Object game. Released in 2013, Artifex Mundi’s Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink is not one of their earlier games… and yet, it kind of plays like one.
“Clockwork Tales is an adventure/hidden object game. If you’ve never played one of those, Artifex Mundi’s are, in my opinion, some of the best you could pick to play”
Their dedication to making the games visually stunning and the stories compelling is quite amazing, and they’ve been known to listen to the community and improve on their games. That said, it’s still a far from perfect game, and it was one of my slightly least favorite ones from them.
In Clockwork Tales you play as Evangeline Glass, a spy of sorts, a special agent working with Intelligence, who goes in the search of her friend, who had disappeared while on the field, working to find out what was causing some mysterious earthquakes. Like in most hidden object games, the story is nothing overly special, but I did like the touch of it being set in a steampunk world, as I feel we’re severely lacking in variation for themes.
I do wish however, that the story was slightly less formulaic and not just with Artifex Mundi’s game, but with Hidden Objects one in general: Person disappears, other person goes fetch, illogical things happen, evil is shown, evil is defeated.
“I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I was rather disappointed with it”
There is advice in writing that says, “Show, don’t tell.” This is especially true of visual media such as videogames. The ending, then, failed this advice. It felt like it came to an abrupt halt, followed by a long winded expositionby Evangeline that didn’t explain anything of what was left unexplained, but that let us know that the bad guy sure got what he deserved! How? Why? We might never know.
“As far as the technical aspect goes, it plays fairly smoothly”
You have “steambugs” as collectable items. What was a bit different from their other games here was that, while in most games you have x goal amount for the whole game, this one was a goal amount per area. They were also far more noticeable than in other games, which made them quite easy to find.
The art is decent, though as usual in their older games, some of the characters can look a bit creepy in some of the scenes when the body is drawn oddly. The backgrounds are detailed and gorgeous like in all their games – one of their strongest points.
“Another thing I liked was the use of the pet (a steam-pet this time) to fetch and manipulate items, record movies and sound, etc.”
The usage of the pet system as more than just something to “fetch” items was a breath of fresh air, and I hope they will use it in more of their games.
The access to the map was just a bit more annoying than usual, for you have to go into the notebook each time as opposed to directly clicking on the map; plus, each time you fast travel, the map doesn’t close itself. It’s nitpicking a little, I know, but I got used to the ease with which later games handled the map ad fast traveling.
“Clockwork Tales is also a little ‘harder’ in the logic department. Most the hidden object games follow some rather weird logic at times”
Say for instance (not a scene taken from the game, mind you, just for illustration purposes on what I mean) you have a pile of ash, and something underneath it. In real life you could use your hands, or whatever item lays close by, to poke and sift through the ash. In a normal hidden object game you’d want some kind of brush, or cloth, or broom, even if you have a perfectly acceptable item for the job nearby. In Clockwork tales, you’d probably have to climb up a flagpole to rip down a flag to then find scissors to cut a piece from it so you can use it on the ash. What? That perfectly acceptable piece of cloth right next to the pile of ash? Oh, we can’t use that!
“Later games of Artifex Mundi allow you to skip items on hidden object scenes, or skip the scenes all together, by playing a game of mahjong. Not here. I was sad to be unable to switch it up and play a bit of Mah Jong now and then”
Another thing I wasn’t as fond of, but this one was more due to personal preference rather than a fault with the game, was that the mini-games were a lot more often the switch and slide games, or the ones were pressing something requires you to do it in the exact order. It was like they had picked all the mini-games I like the least to put them in here. If you do like those games, however, then you will definitely have a better time playing this one than I did!
Lastly, I found a small bug where my inventory would get stuck at the bottom when I finished some puzzles and returned to normal view, which required me to exit and enter the game again to unlock. Not game breaking, but annoying.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Despite the downsides, I had fun playing it. There are far worse hidden object games around, but there are also better ones from Artifex Mundi itself. If you enjoy puzzle games, this one might be worth checking out.