I’ve spent the week with preview code for Dan Marshall’s latest, Lair of the Clockwork God. It’s the new instalment in his series of Dan and Ben games, which up until now have been fairly classical adventure games. Clockwork God is different, however, because Dan has decided that indie games are the future and adventure games are history. So this means that while Ben is still playing an adventure game – collecting objects, combining them, solving puzzles – Dan is jumping around, leaping from ledge to ledge, and having indie platformer epiphanies all over the place.
Cue lots of jokes and set-pieces and a great deal of cleverness. All of this is to be expected. What’s really hit me, though, is how Clockwork God has such an ideal means of delivering its story and its puzzles and its action and absolutely all that jazz. Like the other Dan and Ben games, the spine of the thing is an ongoing chat between the two main characters. In other words, for the couple of hours I’ve played of Clockwork God, I’ve been pulled along by the easy pleasures of conversation.
There is something to this, I reckon. Functionally it’s very smart. Puzzly adventure games always need a means of giving clues out to the stupider players, such as me, and the bickering between the two leads means there’s plenty of opportunity to sneak this stuff in. Then there’s the fact that Ben and Dan can just generally remind the player of objectives, of things they might have forgotten, of things they might not have spotted in the environment.