Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a 3D platformer from Dinosaur Bytes Studio in which you play as a rabbit and monkey trying to stop Dr. Daucus’ evil plans by time-traveling in a fridge.
In each world, you collect Ancient Stones hidden in out-of-the-way locations or locked behind platforming challenges. Once your stone total is high enough, you’ll unlock the boss door. After beating the boss, you need enough Pocket Watches, which are scattered everywhere, to unlock the next world.
The game’s platforming is generally precise but has a loose feeling, often screwing up your high jumps because you’re on an uneven surface, allowing you to jump off things you’re not standing on, or glitching your hover mid-use, making you fall. Despite this, the game’s exploration based-worlds mean that failing a jump is rarely a big deal, and when the platforming works it’s genuinely fun.
The art and level design feels generic, but there’s so much freedom of movement that the game feels lively. You have a basic jump and double jump, a hover, a sidehop and high jump that feel even higher than in Mario 64, and a running jump that goes absurdly far.
Combined, this gives Clive an overwhelming ability to traverse his environment both horizontally and vertically. It’s rare the game asks you to make a truly difficult jump, but wielding such immense platforming power in open environments makes the game a joy to control when it’s not glitching or taking camera control away in enclosed spaces.
The same can’t be said of the combat, which isn’t fun regardless of whether it glitches or not. Hitboxes frequently don’t match the visuals, sometimes you and an enemy both get hit when it doesn’t seem like you should, and it just generally feels awful. Enemies are usually trivial, but when you’re forced into a boss fight, the game is just not fun. The boss fight designs aren’t particularly interesting, and the bad collision ruins any remaining interest. The bosses with no fighting aren’t bad, at least.
Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a buggy mess on PC. Objects that are right next to you are sometimes culled. There are no graphics options, and many visuals are blurry or visibly shake when they move. There’s only one audio slider, and it’s for the music, leaving the gratingly loud sound effects stuck at their current mix level. And I also fell out of bounds a couple of times.
None of this is so bad as to sink the game entirely, but it adds frustration to a game that already has too much of it.
The game’s biggest insult is the Pocket Watches. Amassing tiny collectibles is an element of many platformers, but Clive ‘N’ Wrench puts these on every surface, in the corner of every room, and in hundreds of identical orange pots you have to either attack or glitch against to open. There are as many as 800 in a level, which is beyond tedious, and it’s often not clear how many you need.
The game’s cutscenes spend multiple seconds too long on every shot, and there’s an unskippable one each time you enter a level. The story cutscenes are much worse but are mostly skippable. Completionists could spend a while longer finding obscure Ancient Stones and Pocket Watches, but the game took me six hours, with individual worlds taking around 20 minutes.
At the core of Clive ‘N’ Wrench, there’s a clear love of platforming that translates into the game. It’s fun to jump around in this engine, despite the bugs. But it’s hard to recommend a game that has terrible combat and is such a technical mess, even though it has some good parts.
Clive ‘N’ Wrench releases digitally on February 24 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch for $29.99. A physical release on Switch and PlayStation will cost $39.99 and release on February 28 in the USA.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Clive ‘N’ Wrench.