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Clover: A Curious Tale

Score: 70%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Blitz 1UP
Developer: Binary Tweed
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Clover: A Curious Tale has the art style of a fledgling webcomic. Someone clearly poured a lot of time and effort into the art, but it's yet to be perfected into a professional style. All people have big, googly eyes, tiny arms and hands, and a blocky body. The far background artwork is done in watercolor, but again with the same beginner's art style. I don't mean to be harsh, but frankly this is amateur art work: someone had an idea in their head, but wasn't able to successfully translate it because of a lack of skill and experience. Everyone has to start somewhere, however, and at least you can see that a lot of love went into all this artwork. The notes and the unlockable art gallery are proof of that.

Everything is flat, and 2D, though the game does attempt to do some separate scrolling foreground and background tricks at times. The one thing that does fit in here is the paper-like texture dropped on top of everything. At least that goes with the notebook style of drawing. Cloud-like textures also expand and contract in the background, creating some rather peaceful movement at all times.

The music is a lovely, long piano theme. I can't say much more about it than that. It's not grand, it's not exciting, but it is a nice, soothing piano theme. Voicework here is rather nicely done, but without an engaging plotline or script, it can only go so far. Overall, the feel of everything together is mellow, and rather serene.


Gameplay:

Clover: A Curious Tale follows the story of Sam, who's just become an orphan after a tragic sea attack took the life of his mother. Sam then goes about exploring, and starts to uncover a rather disturbing idea that there was more to the incident on the seas than is being let on.

I wish I could say this becomes a compelling story, I really do. It seems that all the rest of the world has found pure magic in this game. I'm not seeing it. I wish I could say that the puzzles are compelling and interesting, but I'm not feeling that. This game seems to me to be a plain old-fashioned hunt for items kind of game. To compare this to Maniac Mansion really feels like a slap in the face. In that game, there were interesting things that would happen, things to discover if you tried different items in different areas. Clover just feels like a long, arduous, item-gathering grind. A limited inventory and an unintuitive landscape also means you'll be covering a lot of the same ground over and over, trying to find out what goes where.

There seem to be some "secrets" to the game, and this may be one compelling reason to keep playing. For example, there seems to be a puzzle related to the seemingly random letters that are highlighted in red in every conversation you have in the game. I haven't figured it out, but it may very well be the one big thing the game has going for it.


Difficulty:

Clover: A Curious Tale is one of those puzzle games where it's not necessarily difficult, but time-consuming. Chances are, if you're having trouble, you've just overlooked an item on the landscape somewhere, or just forgotten about a certain area where you could have used an item. Most puzzles in the game are rather intuitive when you have all the items in front of you (and you're aware that you're sitting in front of a puzzle, and not just talking to some unimportant NPC.

The whole experience is made easier with tags that will hover over items where you can perform an action. You can turn these tags off for added difficulty, but I wouldn't. Although most items "stick out," you'll probably be clicking on every area where there are objects illustrated in the background if you don't leave it on.


Game Mechanics:

Controls in Clover: A Curious Tale are keyboard based only. It's rather surprising, since it is for the most part a puzzle game, and not a platformer. There are some areas that ask you to do some precise jumping, but these aren't too difficult, and don't require the best of reflexes because the character moves so slowly. Could this have been a point-and-click game? Yes, it could have. It probably would have been a little less tedious, not having to hold down an arrow key for what seems like hours on end. But Clover's control scheme works fine for the simple game that it is.

With its mellow soundtrack, and rather relaxed theme, Clover is an easy enough game to spend some time playing. The artwork never aspires to be anything grand or impressive either. However, it can be too much of that one theme to really be engaging. A lot of people are finding this game to be a wonderful experience, but my recommendation is to try even before you spend the small amount required to buy this title.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Minimum System Requirements:



Operating Systems: XP SP2 or above, Processor: 2.0Ghz, Memory (RAM): 1024MB, Hard Disk Space: 500MB, Graphics Card: DirectX 9c compatible, shader 2.0 support, Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
 

Test System:



Windows XP, 3.20 GigaHertz Intel Pentium 4, 1 GB Ram, RADEON X850, Creative SB Audigy 2 ZS

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