I decided to pick up the clones demo without knowing anything about it other than the fact that the screenshots on Steam looked really cute. That doesn’t mean that the game is any good, but it’s been my experience that the better the art (not graphics) in a game the more likely it is that the developers aren’t just throwing out slop. It turns out that it’s a Lemmings style game where you have dozens of little guys that you need to try and get to an exit or finish line. You can’t control them outright most of the time, but they do have special moves allowing you to manipulate the environment. Does Clones rise about all the other Lemmings clones? Let’s get to the review.
From the minute I loaded up Clones I was having fun. The art style is excellent and the music is top notch. Not knowing what I was getting into, I was pretty pleasantly surprised to find a Lemmings clone. I started up the first level, a tutorial, and had a blast.
The level design for the tutorial levels is pretty simple. The idea is to teach you about the many abilities your clones have for altering the environment, such as a drill that can break through a floor, or blowing up your clone in order to destroy a part of the environment around it. There are many more abilities, and each of them have very specific situations in which they should be used.
I’m not a huge fan of puzzle games. It’s a sad truth that I don’t like to face. It’s made getting through Braid pretty difficult, and I completely gave up on World of Goo after nearly throwing my keyboard through my monitor. My problem is that I don’t like to fail. Oh I want it to be tough, but I want to just squeek by the first time. Once I start to fail I get more and more angry, and I have to quit for a while and come back later.
That said I had a blast with Clones throughout the entire tutorial. Once it booted me out, saying that I needed to complete more levels in order to continue with the tutorial on powers (What the hell is that?), I went and attempted the next area I had unlocked, a boss battle. The boss battles work like a head to head match, with the player trying to get more of their clones to the end than the computer is able to get. Instead of a side by side Tetris style view you get a full screen, and can see what the enemy is doing at any time by pressing a button.
It took me over a dozen tries to finally figure out what the hell I was doing (the tutorial levels didn’t really prepare me for this at all). Finally I managed to beat the boss by watching his screen the entire time and getting a better understanding of what I was supposed to be trying to do. Once I had completed the boss fight I discovered that the rest of that bosses levels were locked in the demo, so it was off to the next opened world where I feared I would meet another boss.
Instead of a boss this level greeted me with a platformer. You directly control a clone this time and the object is to use your abilities and power ups along the way to platform jump your way to the end of the level. Now I’ve been playing Super Meat Boy for the last few days and I have never played a better platformer. This made playing the platforming in Clones a terrible ordeal at first. The clone controls aren’t very good, and the levels, while well designed, require a much slower approach than I was initially ready for.
This entire time I had an odd feeling creeping up on me, and it was at this point that I realized exactly why. It may have over 150 single player levels (or so it claims), but the game seems like it was designed for competitive multiplayer. Head to head battles seem to be the order of the day, with the ability to use your clones to steal the enemies scoring clones, adding their total to yours. It sounds like a blast, unfortunately no one seemed to be online to play. I tried joining a random game and it told me it couldn’t find any, so I tried hosting my own game. After twenty minutes of searching for someone to play against I finally gave up.
You’ll see this lonely screen for a very long time unless you have a friend trying the game with you
Overall I though Clones was a fun, if highly frustrating puzzle game that was very reminiscent of Lemmings, but with a few new twists. The art style is wonderful and fun, and the sound is very nice, except for the odd heavy german accent of the announcer saying the boss names. It just seemed out of place. I’d suggest anyone who is a fan of Lemmings, puzzle games or with a high frustration threshold at least download the demo and give it a try.
The game itself is $9.99, though it is 50% off right now so if you like it, pick it up while it’s on sale.