Clam Man Is The Funniest Adventure Game In Ages
Covered by William Worrall
It’s not often that a comedy game actually manages to stand up to criticism. After all, humor is subjective and trying to service a broad range of tastes can leave a product feeling watered down. It might come as some shock then when I say that Clam Man is one of the funniest adventure games I’ve played in over 2 decades. Clam Man is a classic-style point-and-click game from Team Clam and tells the story of the titular Clam Man. Working his normal job at a mayonnaise factory leads him into a pit of despair when he is suddenly fired, for seemingly no reason. Investigating the mystery of his sudden lay-off leads Clam Man down a path filled with mayonnaise crime, polite death threats, and vigilante ducks.
Surrealism is the word of the day if that last paragraph didn’t totally give it away for you. From the moment you first answer your phone in your office job inhabited by fort building crustaceans till the ending which could win ‘best anime battle of all time’, you are completely immersed in a world more bonkers than The Mighty Boosh and Monty Python put together. Although the world of Clam Man is surreal it is far from abstract. In fact, the entire game takes place in a modern-looking city which may as well have been inhabited with humans if it weren’t for all of the sea-themed puns.
Despite Clam Man feeling like a classic point-and-click there are surprisingly few inventory puzzles involved. The main one that you come across involves setting fire to a drink to make a bad smell, and it is solved in only a few minutes. As much as the lack of puzzles might sound like a point against the game it really isn’t. Puzzles are fine and all but all of the most successful adventure games in history have sold more on their story and charm than on their puzzles. Clam Man has clearly taken that lesson to heart and is packed to the brim with charm but is sort of lacking in puzzles.
Charm in and of itself is sort of a vague descriptor. Clam Man‘s charm is a far cry from games like Night of the Rabbit which are just so beautiful that it hurts. No, Clam Man fits far better into the little niche that Monkey Island carved out for itself back in the 90s, albeit with fewer puzzles to get in the way of a good story well told. Several of the jokes actually made me laugh, as subjective a praise as that might be, and the entire thing was filled head-to-toe with references and homages to other pieces of pop culture. Humour is also a defining factor of the narrative, which is primarily a conspiracy tale about a mayonnaise smuggling ring.
Think ‘classic point-and-click’ and you probably think pixel art. Clam Man has managed to buck this particular trend and actually features entirely hand-drawn art. Going for hand-drawn art over pixel art was a wise decision on the part of the developers. The entire game gains some distinction over its peer’s thanks to the artistic consistency, which may have been lost when relying on pixel graphics. Surprisingly, this artistic decision once again manages to make the game feel more like Monkey Island, which featured hand-drawn art which was then traced over with pixels to create the look so many are now familiar with.
Clam Man is a pretty damn enticing experience for any fans of the genre. Humor which doesn’t automatically fall flat is a rare enough thing, but a game with retro-themes not relying on pixel art is even rarer. Although it is considerably shorter than Monkey Island, running at only 1 ½ hour in total, Clam Man is at least as charming. Honestly, if Team Clam don’t go on to do a sequel it will be a sad day for adventure game fans everywhere.
TechRaptor covered Clam Man on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer
RWBY: Crystal Match Fails To Stand Out
Covered by Courtney Ehrenhofler
I’ve been stressed as of late, so Crunchyroll’s new game RWBY: Crystal Match, seemed to be the perfect thing for me to binge out on. It’s a match 3, who doesn’t enjoy those? And, of course, I do love RWBY.
From the get-go, the game is on shaky ground. While the premise is cute in that you need to win the individual rounds to defeat Cinder, the execution is less than ideal at best. The game is quite laggy, even after several patch updates, and will randomly bug out on me and skip text, which made it difficult to get through the tutorial with all of Nora’s speech bubbles being half-sentences. The game also forgets what outfits I equip to characters sometimes, which just makes it a pain to have to keep going back to the selection screen and choose again. Again, these are after several patches, which did improve the game quality after Day 1.
Now for the game itself. Well, it’s a pretty typical Match 3 game, but what it does and does not choose to tie in thematically is weird and does change the gameplay quality. All of the crystals that you match are RWBY themed, with each character’s emblem on it, and it fits perfectly. But the power-ups that you get from crushing a certain number of crystals that fit one of your characters are supposed to be semblances. While this fits thematically, you never know which crystals or where on the board your semblance will hit once you activate it, making it less than ideal if you’re short on moves and trying to get any specific areas of the board cleared. The different obstacles on the board are bizarrely not themed with RWBY, as things like spiderwebs, candies, and bubbles. It seems quite out of place when it’s one of the very few things that stands out – even the change screens on the game are lifted straight out of RWBY Chibi.
My biggest complaint, other than the bugs, is the lack of guys. Every single character is a girl, and while I’m all about Team RWBY as well as Pyrrha and Nora, what about Jaune and Ren? What about Qrow or Sun or Neptune? There’s such a variety of characters in the show it seems a shame to restrict them so needlessly. On the bright side, Zwei shows up as your
little guide marker on the board who hops over to new squares once you complete a level. So there is a puppy.
RWBY: Crystal Match features outfit customization for the characters as well, which is nice, but along with buying other characters than team RWBY to play as, is a huge and very obvious money-trap, as is the way with most of these match 3 games. But do you have to be so in your face about it? There are ways to earn the money in-game, mainly by daily streaks, but it feels like
the monetization aspect is heavily pushed.
Overall, RWBY: Crystal Match has the charm of RWBY Chibi, but the bugs and the lack of anything new or different from other match 3 games are really its downfalls. Honestly, I wouldn’t even recommend this game to casual RWBY fans, as all but the most hardcore are better off finding another match 3 game that does it better, which is not a difficult task.
TechRaptor covered RWBY: Crystal Match on a phone with a copy freely downloaded from said phone’s app store. Sorry, Courtney is sleeping.