Day 125: “Clover: A Curious Tale”

Posted: 2011/03/14 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #125, and today’s game is “Clover: A Curious Tale”.

On Day 46, I bought and loved a game called “Clover”. It was the original version of a game, released in early 2009. Over a year later, in August 2010, a much improved game called Clover: A Curious Tale was released. Similar to the “Master Quest” version of “Zelda: Ocarina of Time” which had reworked puzzles, both the original Clover and the “A Curious Tale” version can be enjoyed by big fans of the game as many of the puzzles were reworked between the two. However, for those who have not played either and are not likely to want to play them both, the A Curious Tale version is absolutely the better of the two. Microsoft and the developer have made this much by putting Clover: A Curious Tale on sale this week (for Xbox Live Gold subscribers) to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. “Clover”, get it? Oh, how they laughed. Still, getting the game 50% off (200 Microsoft Points vs. 400) is a great deal for a game that’s got a lot more than simply reworked puzzles to recommend it over the original version, and you have a week (starting today) to get in on the deal.

First, from the developer:

“Binary Tweed is very pleased to announce that the new, improved version of Clover: A Curious Tale will be available for download worldwide, including French and Spanish translations.

For those unaware of the original, Clover: A Curious Tale is a watercolour side-scrolling platform puzzle game with a political agenda. Featuring no lives or health bars the game is an experience to be taken at the players own pace, designed to challenge puzzle-solving skills as well as interpretations of world events.

“It’s hard to think of an area of the game that hasnt been massively improved upon. Weve got secret guest actors featured in the game that Im chuffed to bits about. Its an indie title with an indie agenda that anybody with an interest in puzzlers, Dizzy or counter-culture should play,” commented Binary Tweeds Deejay.

By combining feedback from players of the original with Blitz Games Studios knowledge and experience, every area of the game has been given an overhaul: * New animations for every character, new graphics, user-interface and effects * Complete voice-acted English dialogue, and French & Spanish translations of a script four times bigger than the original * New puzzles, and sub-quest making the game over twice as long * Four new endings dependent on the players actions, and playable epilogue * Context-sensitive controls, and improved ‘feel’

Commenting on what makes the new version special, Blitz 1UP Producer Neil Holmes said “We’ve stripped away some of the baggage that came with revisiting a classic genre, making the game feel more modern and welcoming to new players. For those that think they know Clover, they’re going to want to pay very close attention to each of the four endings. There’s more to the story than it might first appear.”

What I like about this game is it’s not afraid to do things that major releases often are (such as make a political statement). I also like that it’s classic Maniac Mansion-ish gameplay, or Dizzy-ish gameplay for our British readers who remember that venerable franchise from classic 8-bit computers, is enjoyable on its own even for those who are not interested in (or even disagree with) the political commentary. Much of the gameplay has you exploring the environment and the insides of buildings, looking for objects that can help someone, and they will in turn give you the next piece you need to progress through the quest (be it information, an object, or some other form of assistance). There is a lot of dialogue and this helps give the game a lot of its charm.

The voice acting is a bit uneven at times, but is largely actually quite good and easily better than some full priced retail games I’ve bought in the past. The art in the game is of pretty consistently high quality, and has a look that one doesn’t often see in games anymore. It’s more colourful than the original Clover as well, which had a somewhat more drab colour palette.

Not a full sequel, but definitely more than a mere v1.5, this game has had a near-complete overhaul that puts the Zelda OoT: Master Quest version to shame as it as much as quadruples the amount of content in places, and overhauls much of the returning content (such as the reworked puzzles, and spoken dialogue being added to a game that was previously text-only). It’s a game that you can’t die in, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things standing in the way of you completing your quest. It succeeds at its goal of being an experience worth playing, even for those who are playing it for a second time. The game’s well worth its 400 Microsoft Point price tag, but especially worth its sale price of 200 (ending March 20th).

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