Clive ‘N’ Wrench wears its influences on its sleeve. As soon as I saw the name of the game and the game’s key art I knew I was in for an old-school 3D platformer with influence from titles like Ratchet & Clank, Banjoo-Kazooie, and to a lesser extent Yooka-Laylee. Having played through half of the game’s levels it is time I detail why this game is more abstract than homage in this Clive ‘N’ Wrench review.
Clive ‘N’ Wrench Review for Nintendo Switch – 3D Platforming Done..Ok
Title: Clive ‘N’ Wrench
Developer: Dinosaur Bytes Studios
Publisher: Numskull Games
Genre: Platforming, Action, Adventure
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4/PS5
The levels, to me, feel like a case of trying to have your cake and eat it too. You have hundreds, and sometimes a thousand stopwatches available to collect, while also having to look around every corner for secrets. Not only that but each overworld has secluded sections where the real action is.
This is a title that tries to be a massive collect-a-thon while also wanting me to dig into the minutia of the level to find the ten stones that unlock the boss fights. It just feels like it’s trying to be two different things and excelling at neither. If I’m going to be overloaded with things to collect then at least give me a map so I can sort things out and plan my attack.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to discover things around every corner in a game, Super Mario Odyssey is one of my all-time favourites after all. But Odyssey has tight, compact levels that make the most of their space, I just don’t get that feeling with CnW.
With that said, the levels are well-made and chock full of platforming potential. Which makes it even more disappointing that they aren’t used to their fullest potential.
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This is arguably the biggest downfall of this title. The game doesn’t really control well at all. Jumping and momentum feel inconsistent and random. I’ve never experienced anything like the game almost fighting me when I’m trying to make the simplest of jumps, the same goes for grabbing ledges which usually feels like a 50/50 gamble.
This issue rears its head most when the game is asking me to pull off tight platforming, it’s at times like these that I was most frustrated with CnW. Combat follows a similar trend with the admittedly wonky hit detection making it a roll of the dice for my attack to hit before I take damage.
The worst part of it all is, I really enjoyed making my way around the bigger sections where there was more room for error. The spooky-themed level was very fun to fly around because it asked me to make big jumps and use the game’s loose controls to my advantage, but whenever things got more detailed and tighter platforming was needed, that fun turned to frustration.
I do hate to be negative so I will take some time to at least focus on what I liked about the game. As I mentioned before, some of the platforming is a joy, making my way around rooftops and finding ways to make it onto higher ground was great! If there was more of that in the key moments of the game I’d have been delighted.
There is a variety of enemies, costumes, and levels that can’t have been easy to make for the developer. I appreciated how each level rally looked, felt, and just operated differently with new challenges awaiting me. I also thought it was clever that not every boss fight was actually a boss fight, one was a maze and the other was about scaling a pyramid, it was a nice change of pace from the admittedly mediocre boss fights.
A lot of games that are “bad”, no that this is a bad game, are so dry and lacking in personality that I’d rather play with cardboard. Clive ‘N’ Wrench never suffers from that problem, likely because it takes inspiration from such a personality-heavy genre. Despite not having voice acting or presumably a massive budget, it had clever references, charm, and cutscenes to advance the story.
Clive ‘N’ Wrench Review – Last Word on Gaming Viewpoint
At first, I hated Clive ‘N’ Wrench, I didn’t see any appeal and thought it was a terrible game. As I played it and got used to the controls I found myself enjoying some aspects of the game because it is an attempted homage to one of my all-time favourite genres. If like me, you’re a fan of 3D platformers from yesteryear, you’ll find SOMETHING that attracts you to Clive ‘N’ Wrench. Unfortunately, the title has too many issues to really flourish and reach its full potential. For a debut effort, the developer did a lot right and a lot wrong, all I can hope for is that they focus on what they did right with this one and knock it out of the park next time.
Clive ‘N’ Wrench Review – The Verdict
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