Clarc is a puzzle game set in a factory on Mars. You play as Clarc, a hard-working maintenance robot whose sole task is to make repairs in order to keep his facility in working order. Surrounded by robots who would rather party than work, Clarc has his work cut out for him.
Clarc is Our Robot of the Month
The puzzles start out simple and become more complex and challenging fairly quickly. Clarc must perform tasks like re-routing power to restore downed systems, escorting damaged worker drones through obstacles, and blocking or deflecting energy beams that would otherwise destroy him. The rest of the robots are in their own little world, and it’s fun just to watch their interactions and listen to the dialogue, as most of it is not what you would expect a robot in a factory on Mars to say (because of course you had obvious expectations for that sort of thing before this point).
There are 27 levels, and each one is broken down into several puzzles, which are executed in a linear fashion. The nice thing is that if you die or fail a puzzle, you don’t have to start the level all over, you simply back up to the start of the puzzle that you were working on.
The controls are a bit frustrating, and actually end up detracting a lot from the game. Because of the need for more precise movements to make the puzzles work, it operates on a sort of invisible grid system, which because of the perspective of the game requires that there be only diagonal movements. At the bottom left of your screen, there are four little arrows representing the directions you can go, and a surprisingly large percentage of the time I found myself inadvertently pressing the wrong direction.
And more often than not this was at a critical point in a puzzle where I couldn’t afford to make an incorrect move. So I had restart puzzles many different times only because the controls were not precise enough. The way that you turn is by swiping on the bottom right of your screen, which not only turns Clarc, but the entire screen, hence shifting the relative direction of your control arrows. This makes for any sort of coordination between turning and moving very difficult. It’s possible, but it takes a lot of practice, and certainly is not something you want to mess around with in a tight spot mid-puzzle.
The graphics in Clarc are pretty awesome though. They have the feel of a 3D graphic novel, but in a rusty, dirty, industrial sort of way. There’s a lot of detail and there are some pretty good effects here and there, especially when it comes to lighting, in more ways than one. Additionally, the illustrations/cutscenes are really well done.
The audio in the game is average. The music works well as background noise, and the sound effects are appropriate but don’t really stand out. Because of the type of game, I think the music is just fine, but some better sound effects could have added to the experience a bit.
You Look Puzzled!
Clarc is not exactly your typical puzzle game, but it still offers up a good challenge and some fun times. The puzzles are interesting, and the story is fun to follow with all of its wacky robot antics. The levels each take some time to get through, and with over two dozen levels, and multiple puzzles in each one, this is not a game that you’ll just fly right through. The fact that you don’t have to restart levels entirely after failing a puzzle is a good feature in general, but even more so because of the control issues. I can’t count how many times I accidentally killed Clarc and had to restart a puzzle as a result of the controls. And if I had to start a level over each time, the game would have lost every bit of its entertainment value.
I really wish that there was a different control system in Clarc. It has so much potential and does so much right, but the controls are really hard to overlook, especially when the game requires such precision movements at times. The story, graphics, and challenging puzzles buoy the gameplay to an extent, but it’s hard to recommend a game that makes you want to tear your hair out at times. It really could be an amazing game, but its control issues drag it down to simply average.