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Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time

Score: 89%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Stickmen Studios
Developer: Stickmen Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time is a quirky little side-scrolling adventure title that has a lot of interesting aspects that is bound to make most casual gamers want to check it out.

Doc Clock uses a cartoon-styled approach, complete with oversimplified locations and an anthropomorphic inventory container that likes to give you advice on how to proceed. The different worlds your character will visit have enough variety to make them each feel like a separate environment, but also share enough common design styles to keep a generally solid design style that makes the game as fun to watch as it is to play.

These slightly-off graphics of the cartoon world mixed with the upbeat techno music that occasionally sounds like something from the 8-bit era end up creating a solid overall feel for the game that makes it immediately approachable to any gamer out there, even those that stay away from the adventure genre.


Gameplay:

Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time often feels like a scaled down LittleBigPlanet in that you will be building quite a lot of strange inventions in order to reach the end of each level. While these inventions start off simple, like using a board to make a ramp or laying them down across a spike pit to get around, they quickly become more complex as you build vehicles and other contraptions from the various objects in the world you pick up.

Outside of the vehicle-building aspect of the game, Doc Clock plays like a platformer with some adventure-styled puzzles thrown in to jazz things up. But what is most amusing about the game is the ability to rewind your character at any point and start over. The only limitations here are the fact that you can only back up to the beginning of the current level and if you loaded the game from a save mid-level, you can only go back to the point of the save.

I found this aspect most amusing because it not only allows you to un-die when you don't quite get a puzzle solved right and you meet your demise at the hands of either the demented robots or some environmental hazard, but if you realized you didn't do something right early in the episode, it is nothing to rewind that far back and try it again. This was especially helpful the times I realized I didn't pick up some inventory item that I need late in the level.

While most of your inventory items disappear at the end of a level, the parts of Doc Clock's time machine you are collecting throughout the game, as well as a few odds and ends pieces from other levels, will appear at the beginning of the level for you to rebuild your inventory and start piecing together new inventions necessary for the new level and its challenges. I don't know why these bits and pieces simply aren't a part of your inventory when the new level begins, but I guess having them in a pile in front of you helps to reinforce which inventory items you have at your disposal.


Difficulty:

Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time has quite a few challenging obstacles to overcome, but I often found these tougher parts were solvable once I walked away from the game a bit and came back to it. In general, Doc Clock doesn't throw any super mind-benders your way, though the solution to each task does seem to get more and more involved as the game progresses.

As mentioned above, early challenges involve simply moving boards to create ramps, or piling boxes to make stairs. As the game progresses, you will have to build a longer bridge out of smaller boards, and then a simple vehicle to help you race to the end of the level. Next is an umbrella that allows your vehicle to fall at a slower pace, then propellers to give you some lift and so on and so on. Doc Clock really does do a good job of balancing both the increase in the difficulty and the complexity of what you have to do with the gradual introduction of what you can do.


Game Mechanics:

Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time's most used mechanic is the ability to piece together random inventory objects into strange configurations in order to solve the myriad obstacles the game will throw at you.

Building complex items is really simple. All you do is you grab an item either from your inventory or in the world, and you pull it next to the object you want to combine it with. When both objects are outlined, you can let go and they will stick together exactly where and how you left them. This means you can make a bridge by sticking several planks of wood together end by end, or attach wheels to the bottom of a bathtub by resting it on top of the wheels.

I did find that the hardest part of the game seemed to be getting your lengthy claw arm, the tool used for picking up and rotating inventory items, to behave correctly. It seemed like I was fighting the device more times than not, and most of the issues I had involved trying to get the piece I wanted to attach to the bigger construction while other parts of the new invention were in the way. On top of that, there are times when the whole invention would fall over on its end, and there doesn't seem to be a way to manipulate it as a whole. Whenever this would happen, I would have to tear down practically the whole device and work on getting it back together again.

While this is really only a minor inconvenience, it is attached to one of the biggest mechanics of the whole game, and the more often it happened, the more frustrated I would get. In fact, the above mentioned times I felt like I had to walk away from the game for a bit were usually tied to events like these where the construction of my invention wasn't coming together as smoothly as I would have liked.

Despite that though, Doc Clock is still a fun puzzle/adventure game that is sure to delight most casual gamers. It is definitely worth checking out, and most likely purchasing.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP/Vista/7, AMD/Pentium 2.0 Ghz Processor, 256 MB RAM, 64MB GeForce 4 Ti or ATI equivilent, DirectX 9.0c, 300 MB Hard Drive Space, Soundblaster Compatible Sound Card
 

Test System:



Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel i7 X980 3.33GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

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