There comes a time in every reviewer’s life when they get a game that was so full of promise and when it arrives it shits itself, rolls on the carpet, and demands attention and because you’re getting paid to, you have to play with the damn thing!
So, without further ado, here is my
rant review of The Watchmaker by Micropsia Games.
The Watchmaker is a 3D puzzle platformer set in the crumbling tower of time. You play as the watchmaker Alexander who has AMNESIA and can’t remember what’s happening, except that he seems to remember quite a bit, just not the juicy stuff. Alexander, or Gah-just-fuckin-do-the-thing as I’ve taken to calling him, has been awoken by a floating ball of electricity that warns of him of the Ruin Saboteur and keeps giving him shit for various reasons. Such classic lines as “It’s an automaton, its not that sma-aa-art.” or… actually, that’s all I can remember because that line is forever engraved in the memory center of my brain.
See, The Watchmaker has a good premise and that’s what disappoints me most. Gah-just-fuckin is the creator of the tower of time but as it’s unravelling, he is ageing rapidly. So you are under a lot of pressure to solve the puzzles quickly before he turns 90 and keels over. Its an interesting concept that is fucking ruined by the inclusion of checkpoints every few feet. In fact I only reached 90 in two locations. The first boss fight (It’s not that sma-aa-aaaaaa-aaaart. Gah!) and the third power room. Or more precisely, after the third power room where it stranded me with no way back to the rest of the level except to die. But wait! After some postmortem investigation it turns out the platform I came over on will move over to bring me back, something that hasn’t happened in any other part of the game!
You’re going to have to bear through this folks, skip to the end and I’ll give a short run down of the game. Until then, strap in because its rant time.
The Watchmaker’s puzzles all go one of two ways. Either magnetise the thing and bring it to the place or press a button. Sometimes the button needs to be held while you’re somewhere else, to which you can place a copy of yourself on the button (assuming you have enough energy if not, then sit tight cause the answer is to wait around) or sometimes it needs to be pressed and it will move something to allow you to progress.
The problem with that is that due to the camera being rammed into Gah J Fuckin’s back like a kidnapper’s gun, it’s pretty damn difficult to see what moved. Couple that with the spinning cog wheels and you’ve got a game of Where’s Waldo – Platform Edition, which is about as fun as it sounds.
Then there’s the combat. Every power requires energy and dotted across the levels are little combat sections where Gah J Fuckin must use his magneto blaster. The problem is that not only is it weak but it also runs out of energy pretty quickly, leaving you to stand impotently by while it recharges and the robo-bugs fart purple gas all over you. Which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have much of an effect except making you age a little faster. Pro-tip, in the section with the moveable shield walls, just run past it all.
Then there’s the awful voice acting. The electric ball, aptly named Thunder Shit, gives a reasonable attempt but its grating and so unbelievably amateur that every second he spends talking makes me want to just throw myself off the tower more and more. However the gold trophy for terrible voice acting goes to the Ruin Saboteur for a performance that put me far too much in mind of The Emperor reveal from House of the Dead 2.
But the final nail in the coffin was the MC Escher puzzle. Each button moved a staircase, each area had a button and a doorway that you could pass through. However, moving onto a floor of the wrong orientation killed you instantly. After about 15 minutes of trying and not being able to follow what was happening due to the aforementioned camera butt shoving, I finally accidentally made it and was brought out of the puzzle. I turned around and was stomped by a golem I took to be a statue and put right back to the start of the MC Escher room with no way out but to do it again.
No. No more.
This isn’t even to mention the strange menu bug that meant trying to check my collectables caused the cursor to jump to the top left corner of the screen and refuse to let me exit meaning I had to force quit the game. Or the platform of no return. Or the strange, variable laws governing how long a death drop is. Or the awkward visual glitch whenever I re-spawned after dying to the first boss.
The Watchmaker had potential. It could have been an interesting steampunk puzzle platformer but the terrible design, uninspired abilities, awful voice acting, boring puzzles, and awkward bugs ruin it. I got 80 minutes in and normally I would give a game more time but after the automaton and the MC Escher puzzle, I can’t. Try it for yourselves, maybe you’ll have a better time with it than I did but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Gah J Fuckin’s Adventures in Timeland can be found on Steam HERE