Claw Staff is a platformer that's all about a specialized staff with a claw on the end of it. The emperor demands that you bring him the moon — yes, the moon — probably because he has one too many yes men in his imperial cabinet. After arming yourself with the titular Claw Staff, you begin your journey through several treacherous, procedurally-generated platformer levels.
Let's start with the good: Claw Staff is a platformer with an interesting premise. The staff essentially serves two functions. It allows you to freeze in position on any surface and it's a useful weapon. The music is pretty interesting and the retro 80's-esque graphics look pretty cool.
The tutorial is simple and teaches you most of the important mechanics. Press T to switch from fullscreen to windowed mode and press escape to bring up the menu. Left-click deploys the Claw Staff, right-click hides it, and the middle mouse button sends you through the level's exit.
Getting through a level alive is simply a matter of collecting enough coins for the gate to open. You can also opt to try for getting every coin in the single-screen level. Collecting the lot will net you an extra life, and those extras lives are very necessary considering the numerous issues I encountered in my time with this game.
Claw Staff Coverage Club | Swinging Around At The Speed Of Sound
That's where the good stuff ends. There is an absolute mountain of problems that make this inaugural game from Glass Cargo Software frustrating to play. The biggest bugbear of them all, bar none, is the hit detection and targeting of the claw staff. It supposedly follows your mouse cursor. In practice, I can't count the number of times it just froze in a particular direction. Some of these lock-ups led to my death more than once.
There's also the matter of how the Claw Staff clips through walls; it's often difficult to climb across a simple vertical or horizontal surface. This should be relatively easy considering the mechanics, but it's unnecessarily difficult due to wonky motion on your primary tool. Additionally, I often had issues getting it to even deploy by pressing left-click; it would take several clicks to come out with no discernible reason as to why.
The movement feels very imprecise. Getting around in this game feels very floaty. Precision is everything in platformers and I've found it very difficult to use just enough power to land on a platform I wanted to.
You can defeat enemies by poking them with your staff, but they can also run right into the staff with no ill effect. If you think that it will protect you like a pike wall, you'll die very quickly. Your only solution is to make sure that you walk forward as it apparently only does damage when you're in motion for some reason.
Claw Staff also lacks a critical element: invulnerability on spawn. I had somehow managed to have an enemy land on the spawn point. Upon dying once, the enemy kept killing me again and again until I ran out of lives. I was completely powerless to stop it. Fans of hardcore platformers like I Wanna Be The Guy may feel that this is fair, but I think it's poor game design unless you're deliberately aiming for making a super-difficult Kaizo-style platformer.
Claw Staff Coverage Club | Final Thoughts
Lastly, this title explicitly advertises keyboard and mouse optimization. Floatiness and aiming issues aside, it also lacks any form of cursor lock. That is to say, your mouse can go out of the screen if you have multiple monitors as I do. As I played, I kept clicking outside of the game. This type of annoyance just shouldn't be.
I ultimately spent a little over an hour in Claw Staff before I couldn't take it anymore. A combination of floaty controls and inconsistent staff handling made for a far more frustrating than fun experience. As someone who willingly spent hours mastering I Wanna Be The Guy, that's a disappointing state of affairs.
I'd only recommend you pick up Claw Staff if you're a serious hardcore fan of platformers and are looking for a unique challenge — but even then, you might not be able to deal with the many issues that I encountered.
TechRaptor covered Claw Staff on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.