Mango Protocol are back and this time they have brought CLeM with them. For those of you unfamiliar with Mango Protocol check out my developer spotlight from a while back HERE.
I stumbled upon “MechaNika” by pure chance an I’ve been hooked on their Psychotic Adventures since and was so excited to get to grips with CLeM (review code provided by BigGamesMachine).
CLeM is a narrative driven adventure puzzle game, or a “point and click” if you happen to be of my vintage. This is a return to the developers roots so to speak, following “MechaNika” and “Agatha Knife” they two eponymous heroines joined forces in “Colossus Down” a side scrolling beat em up. I wonder if we’ll see CLeM added to that game via DLC?
CLeM begins in a dark and dank basement as a voice tells you to wake up. You, being the voodoo doll looking chap with a zip on the back of you head slumped against the wall. Naturally as any good haemonculi you’re on your feet and the adventure begins.
Clem, the games mysterious disembodied voice has a task for you, bring her beauty, this isn’t as vague as it sounds, luckily there’s a guide book on the floor, this will also act as your journal, essential for keeping track of clues. Beauty is a bug, as are all the attributes that your padded self shall be sent looking for.
It’s apparent early on that Clem dabbles in magic, not the rabbit in a hat type, but full on magic. Although I don’t see Clem really fitting in at Hogwarts, this is a Psychotic adventure after all, at it’s lightest quirky, at it’s best dark enough to give Wednesday Addams a spook. The art style doesn’t make this immediately apparent, everything has a soft adorable edge but as with Mango Protocol’s other titles there’s more than meets the eye going on here.
I’m very aware that the experience and the narrative are so crucially intwined that I hesitate to spoil too much in this review, but Clem enjoys magic, her missing mother encourages this but it’s not a understatement to say Clem’s father does not. So disapproving is he that he’s only gone and hidden most of Clem’s magic items. You’ll steadily recover these to aid in your bug hunt and they are all delightfully whimsical and each is accompanied by a journal entry explaining all about it.
As with any point and click adventure puzzles are key to the experience and this is where Mango Protocol have stepped up their game, the puzzles in CLeM are brilliant and logical (well within the context of a magic wielding child) with the perfect amount of challenge. They are more taxing than those found in the developers previous titles but are still accessible enough that you shouldn’t feel the need to cheat.
Visually the games presentation is consistent with the Psychotic Adventures universe and well it speaks for itself, personally I love it and would love to see a comic book series (this is actually how the characters first began life) expanding on all the characters adventures so charmed am I by this universe.
The narrative is a perfect blend of creepy, charmingly innocent and emotionally impactful in ways that you may not expect based on the art style, but such judgement would have you miss out on a tale as upsetting as it is truly heartwarming. Again, no spoilers from me, but the themes present in CLeM are universal but those of use with a little more sound in the lower half of the hourglass will probably feel them a little more intensely.
Point and click pretty much sums up the gameplay, so well named is the genre, if you’re a fan of such games, I can’t recommend CLeM enough, if you’re new to them, CLeM is an ideal place to start before meeting Nika and Agatha further down the line.