Sometimes we just wish things would happen at the right time and in the right order. Side-scrolling puzzle game Clocker lets you do just that.
It’s a clever Chinese indie game where you pause time and rearrange the order of events to reunite a father and daughter. Launched on Steam after 2.5 years of crowdfunding, Clocker is full of time-bending puzzles that force you to ponder how one event leads to another, and how things -- in game or in real life -- could turn out very differently even if there was only a one-second delay.
While the father is looking for a way back to his daughter, he has to overcome obstacles and forge a clear path ahead. To do that, he uses his magical pocket watch. These puzzles are often quite challenging, stretching your analytic and creative thinking skills. Some require a lot of work because they span across multiple scenes. One of them, for instance, requires you to change the result of a soccer match by influencing what happens in a lab elsewhere.
This isn’t a game you can easily speed through in your first try. The difficulties mean it can be a frustrating experience at times, but also very rewarding when you’re finally able to solve the puzzles.
I’ll admit not all the puzzles in Clocker made sense to me. There are a few where the logic baffles me -- maybe it’s because my puny brain couldn’t understand it. Those became some of the most disheartening moments for me in the game.
Another feature that frustrated me: The controls. With so many moving pieces in each scene, it was difficult to toggle between different characters and their stopwatches. At times, I found myself wishing this was a point-and-click game instead.
What Clocker does best though is holding its plot and gameplay tightly around a central theme: The concept of missed opportunities. It’s ultimately a tale of love between a father and daughter. Without spoiling the story, I’d say that I appreciate how well it delivers the message of carpe diem, especially with a catch at the end of the game.
If you don’t mind spending hours on end trying to solve laborious puzzles, Clocker is a compelling game that leaves you with a deep appreciation about the wonders of how time and space work. It’s an arduous experience though, so be prepared if you’re not a hardcore puzzle fan.