In a city far away, in a hidden shed lives the inventor Doctor Clock. Together with his cat Franklin and his robotic and cynical backpack, SACK, he is about to have a most interesting day. Not going to lie, I hadn’t heard of Doc Clock or his friends until yesterday when they ‘appeared’ on my recommended list. What the hell, I thought, since buying a spectre pack in Mass Effect 3 — mistake much? — had left me with over eight quid in change I had the funds, and recently I’ve been surprisingly satisfied with most downloadable titles I’ve played. So £7.99 later and there we where, in possession of a game I’d never heard and taking my first leap of gaming faith in months. In a household where money is tight, this is kind of a big thing y’know?
This made it all the more stinging when I discovered Doctor Clock, quirky and alluring title aside, had very little in terms of spectacle. Seriously, I was better off planking on a highway over pass. So for the many of us who don’t know, Doctor Clock and his Toasted Sandwich of Time is a 2D puzzle driven platformer, available for all good Steam, WiiWare and PSN users, which follows the adventures of the eponymous Doctor Clock as he journeys back through time to stop himself from turning Franklin into a cactus after he mated a grill with a toaster and a refrigerator. I s**t you not.
From the word go me and Doctor Clock got off to a rocky start. The jokes weren’t making me laugh, the obnoxious in game conversations between the bad Doctor and his backpack filled up most, if not all, the screen and the tutorials gave me little direction as to how the game would be played. It reminded me of my younger days when stumbling into my home, long after everyone had gone to bed, and resorted to sexually caressing the walls in search of a light switch. You know the idea behind everything, but you’re left to your own imagination as to how all the dots join together. (Hint: Many of the puzzles involve actually building platforms.)
Game wise Doctor Clock again struck a sour, cringe worthy, cord. Clock can’t jump, he can’t climb anything that reaches higher than his pelvis and his only capable invention, SACK, is just as awkward in practice as his inventor. The game makes mountains out of molehills, sometimes literally. SACK collects and stores junk throughout the level and it’s up to his boss to decide how to use it to step over that pesky puddle standing in his way. That would be hilarious if it were not, sadly, true. The challenge isn’t so much figuring out what must be done so much as figuring out how you do it. Selecting the correct piece of junk one time literally took me minutes, discovering how to operate the propeller, a key piece of platform cracking equipment, took me most of half an hour. Maybe I’m thick, it’s entirely possible, but nothing should be this complicated for 238 megabytes of software. Then when you eventually get to invent vehicles, sculpted from a busted chair and a set of wheels, the clumsy mechanics really hit their stride. Running over you, crushing you, demanding to veer off a cliff should you so much as dare to take control of the vehicle. Riveting, but not quite so, and just as awkward as the rest of the game. But hey, at least it’s consistent.
Presentation wise there’s nothing to complain about, at least. Nothing to praise either. The game just looks like a 2D side scrolling platform game, with some dodgy animations glueing the action together. It’s quite funny that Clocky boy can’t seem to walk diagonally, and instead must do a climbing animation over and over again until he reaches the top. So the uninspiring cartoon visuals get an overall mediocre, so we can at least spare the design artist any grief. Even if we can’t extend the same mercy to his colleagues.
Perhaps the most pathetically hilarious tool at your disposal is the power to turn back time using the time slider. Yes, Clock had access to time travel from the word go and didn’t think to use it after introducing his pet to photosynthesis. Undermining the point of why he needed to build another time machine in the first place and basically breaking the plot all together. As a small plus it also removes all fear of getting a game over, since it’s essentially an uncool version of the Sands of Time you will always be able to rewind to a point were you didn’t screw up and try again.
Yet the most annoying thing, without peer, in this game is the dialogue. There is far too much of it for a game of this size, its words per hour must be reaching the Mass Effect benchmark because it seems I cannot go ten steps without the backpack sassing me or Ol’ Clocky pointing out the obvious. What’s worth is they try to be funny, and they’re not. I admit I smirked once the Robot Hippies, oh yeah they’re in this too, came into play but I never once found what the developers thought would be funny enjoyable. They’re sense of comedy is as about as enjoyable as a stroke, this just lasts longer.
I can’t recommend this game, I just can’t. Don’t buy this game, please! Don’t be charmed by the quirky title and the promise of a toasted sandwich, which are few and far between as well. Yet even as I say this I know some of you will, just because I told you not to. You’re going to want to find out for yourself, well don’t! What are you — hey don’t you dare! Get off the PSN — oh god you did it. Well now we’re both out of pocket and I was better off not warning you. The world would probably be safer without caution signs now that I think about it. Anyway this marks the disappointing climax to a very disappointing game, you may go now or if you’d like feel free to read something else on our site like maybe a game you should buy, Shank 2.
…Just don’t buy this game.