The soundtrack is the aural equivalent of being waterboarded, and, like any good platformer, the whole cast speak in nonsensical gobbledegook.
Does Clive 'N' Wrench look deliberately like a game from the late-90s/early-2000s? Or is it all just a bit of a technical shambles? You decide!
Retro-style, albeit slightly janky platforming fun. The swimming controls are a bit dodgy, but this is otherwise decent, old-school fare.
Eleven levels, thousands of gewgaws to collect, boss battles, and all the gratification of achieving 100%. Also, quite a lot of bugs.
This is how you do a trophy list – full of invention, enjoyable little tasks, secrets, and milestones. Lovely stuff.
February 24, 2023
Unfortunately for Clive 'N' Wrench, we live in a world in which Ratchet & Clank exists. Its developer, Insomniac Games, has no doubt faced many sleepless nights making cinematic, endlessly appealing, and visually arresting interplanetary platforming jaunts - Rift Apart representing the apogee of the studios' efforts over the last twenty years or so.
How, then, can a game like Clive 'N' Wrench expect to stand out, when the bar has been raised to such dizzying heights? It's tough, but, despite some rough edges, developer Dinosaur Bytes' game is a rather delicious little love letter to collect-a-thon platformers, like Jak & Daxter, Spyro, Banjo-Kazooie, and their ilk. The result is a colourful, charmingly shabby 3D platformer that manages to get its hooks in you, despite looking like something from the PS2 era – but then, maybe that's the whole idea.
The work of solo developer Rob Wass, Clive 'N' Wrench started life back in 2011 as a rose-tinted homage to 3D platforming's finest moments. And while Clive the rabbit and his constantly abused monkey helper Wrench don't quite manage to match the lofty standards of its various influences, there's something endearing about its array of candy-coloured worlds, even if they do tend to cover the usual themes from countless other platformers. Yes, there is an ice level. Yes, there is a lava level.
A time-hopping adventure, in which you travel using a magical 1950s-style refrigerator, Clive 'N' Wrench covers a diverse range of locations, from an oversized house where tennis balls, books, tables, chairs, and toy robots dwarf the plucky duo, to the cobbles of Victorian-style London streets, a Wild West town, and a sprawling chunk of Ancient Egypt. Some locations go slightly off-piste, visiting places like a swampy bayou featuring 1930s gangster crocodiles, and sparkly underwater crystal caverns.
Clive can sprint and double jump, grabbing Wrench the monkey by the legs and spinning him around his head to hover, as well as using the stricken simian to smack enemies about. We've never seen such wanton monkey abuse since Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake. Traversal proves to be good, clean fun, although the game's larger worlds expose some of its technical shortcomings, with constant instances of clipping, pop-in, and other, often comical graphical glitches.
While the game's wonky opening cutscene and slightly iffy character models (Wrench's goggly eyes are terrifying) don't make the best first impression, and the game's 'Orientation' tutorial level is tortuous, with failure resulting in you restarting the whole thing (neither does Clive 'N' Wrench any favours), you'll soon find a lot to like here. We'd recommend dodging the tutorial altogether, and getting straight into the game proper, collecting pocket watches, Ancient Coins, and other doodads, as you attempt to take down the nefarious Dr. Daucus and his legion of misfits.
Throughout its eleven worlds and boss battles, Clive 'N' Wrench packs in secrets and easter eggs by the bucketload, even managing to squeeze in some surprising cameos, like the appearance of Trowzer Snake from Playtonic's Yooka-Laylee. In spite of its shortcomings, then, Clive 'N' Wrench gets by on sheer exuberance and a clear love for the classic games that inspired it. As the work of a single developer, it's quite an achievement – just don't go in expecting Ratchet & Clank levels of visual presentation. Go in expecting a rabbit whipping a monkey around to and fro with reckless abandon. Sometimes, that's all you need.