Review by MCLink
Hear that? That's the sound of fresh air blowing into the Community Games section of your Xbox Live.
I could write 3 pages about Clover, but at some point my ramblings must become boring, and you should really just go play it for yourself. Now before I over-hype, I will say that this type of game is obviously not for everyone (how many really are?), but it fills an empty niche on the XBCG platform and will be a huge hit in the minds of many.
Clover is self-described as a platforming-puzzler-adventure game. And yes that's about right, but you won't be bopping on the heads of enemies. You will likely be overwhelmed with nostalgia in certain moments - although I am not sure exactly for what (only the town sections of Zelda 2 come immediately to mind for me). The primary mechanics and gameplay involve item collection and puzzle-solving via narrative. You don't carry a weapon, you cannot fight or shoot lasers out of your eyes - you just have an adventure to go on, so hop to it.
There are so many things that Clover does right, that I basically just have to list them, or else proceed with the aforementioned 3 page review. So then: Beautiful watercolor-based graphics, amusing SFX, great story (with a political tie-in should you look for it), fun characters, easy to pick-up gameplay, excellent puzzle/clue design, and a great "mood." For me, my favorite aspect is that I was able to jump in to a totally unique (yet modest) world, become entirely immersed, and achieve a strong sense of reward every time I figured out a solution.
So what then, could I possibly have beef with? Oh don't you worry. ;) I have a small list of gripes that are of course subjective and may not be issues with some. I honestly found the music to be spot-on and very moody initially, but after 15 minutes or so it was actually grating on my brain. It's purely piano, and very repetitive sort of jarring piano without much of a melody. Second, some may find fault in the short length of the game combined with low replayablity - though you should try to be in the "quality-over-quantity" mindset. Last, as is often the case with adventure-puzzlers, you may find yourself doing much mindless backtracking and running around while you try to manage your inventory and solve the puzzles. It comes with the territory I suppose (and the developer did actually build in one 'quick-travel' solution) but I found myself *sighing several times upon realizing I needed to travel ALL the way back across the gameworld to get what I needed.
As a final word, and without giving away too much, players will experience a rather unique ending and one that I did not expect to find. In my mind, it creates the urge for a sequel so we'll see what the developer (Binary Tweed) says about that. I definitely recommend this game to just about anyone, unless you have an aversion to puzzle-adventure-platformers (I like to mix the order up - keeps things fresh) At 400 MP it's not so much a value pick as it is an indulgence. It's like that small tub of Ben and Jerry's you keep in the freezer.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Clover (US, 05/08/09)
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