The Last Clockwinder review (Quest)

Sure, we’re all looking forward to going hands-on with the new PSVR2 headset in the next few months, but there are plenty of interesting VR games coming out for today’s headsets as well. We really enjoyed The Last Clockwinder from Pontoco, which we played on the Quest 2. It’s also out on Steam for PC-based headsets.

The Last Clockwinder is a narrative-driven puzzle game designed from the ground up for VR headsets, and although the gameplay is different it should appeal to those who enjoyed games like A Fisherman’s Tale and Maskmaker. You play as a young woman who is looking to restore an old clocktower that’s situated inside a large tree, and doing so requires solving a series of puzzles that revolve around collecting the fruit contained within them.

But while levels have their own unique layout and challenges, they all take place inside the same environment – which will shift as you switch between levels. It’s a clever way of saving resources, but it does result in a feeling that by the second half of the game, things start looking rather samey from a visual standpoint. There’s plenty of charm to the game’s graphics though, with a nicely polished environment to explore and play around in.

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You have a history in the place as well, as it’s where you grew up alongside a mentor called Adea – and flashbacks and recordings tell an emotional tale. You also have real time interactions with your friend Levi, and all three cast members are wonderfully voiced, bringing the story to life. While the gameplay itself could easily exist and succeed without a narrative, it’s nice to see this kind of attention to detail from a smaller studio looking to deliver a rich experience.

Puzzle challenges require you to collect one or more fruit varieties, each of which come with their own unique characteristics. Some will need to be cut first, others are volatile and will explode if held too long, and yet another can’t even be held by hand. Motion controls have you interacting with them in a variety of ways, but getting them to their destination isn’t a simple case of grabbing them and walking over to the target. Instead, you’ll need to cooperate, and that’s a bit of a challenge since you’re all alone.

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Luckily, you’re able to record your actions (for a few seconds) and leave a clone in your place, so if you pick up a fruit and toss it over to the other side of the room, you can head over there and pick it up once your clone (visualized by a robot) does the same. Before long, you’re automating a chain of events and getting the job done, though in many cases there are several ways of doing so. This leads to replay value, which is also boosted by the fact that the developers will let you know what the minimum number of clones is that you should be able to use. With a campaign that’s close to a handful of hours long even without a lot of replaying, there’s a good amount of value here.

With teleportation movement this one’s best played standing up, though smooth locomotion is supposed to be added soon and that will make seated play easier, as it can be a little fiddly compared to the experience when standing up. With fun and clever gameplay design this is a VR title that’s a must-play on the Quest – especially because the narrative is delivered very well and backed up by a solid soundtrack as well.

Score: 8.3/10

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