Review: Old Clockmaker’s Riddle for iOS

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Old Clockmaker’s Riddle
Price: $2.99
System(s): iPhone, iPad
Release Date: January 24th, 2013
Publisher (Developer): G5 Entertainment (G5 Entertainment)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”

A normal town whose life-force lies in the workings of an ancient clock tower has been cursed, causing time to flow backwards. The only way to save the town and is to collect its lifestream, in the form of clock hands, by playing match three puzzle games. Players must restore the lifestream to the town’s buildings, which brings them one step closer to solving the clockmaker’s riddle. Hence the whole Old Clockmaker’s Riddle thing.

Save the Lifestream to save time.

Old Clockmaker’s Riddle is a match-3 puzzle game. This time around, players are matching three or more crystals of the same color to break chains and score points. Amongst the crystals are clock hands that need to be collected and turned into the “lifestream” of the building you are trying to restore. You have to collect a certain number of hands in each round to restore the structure.

As you collect crystals and make chains in Old Clockmaker’s Riddle, you gain tokens of different colors. These tokens are collected and added to the different color columns at the bottom of the screen. When you collect a certain amount of each color you can give them the clockmaker in town, who will then turn them into useful tools that you can use during the rounds. The tools include hammers that break ice and metal crystals, bombs and lightning that clear lines of the same color, and other such tools. You can use the tools over and over again once you unlock them and you can also upgrade them as you collect more tokens.

In addition to the normal puzzles, there are also bonus puzzles that are played for extra points. In these puzzles, the goal is to move the crystals and make matches that allow you to collect all the keys. You don’t have to clear every crystal, in fact sometimes that’s impossible. You just have to grab all the hands and the puzzle will be solved. Also, something to note is that during these bonus puzzles you can’t use the tools. This makes them more challenging because there are metal and ice blocks that can’t me moved, the only way to get rid of them is to make a match next to them.

Time is ticking

Old Clockmaker’s Riddle gives players a choice of difficulty right at the beginning. The timed game option makes things a bit harder because you can’t take your time and plan out strategies for getting the most points. It’s all about speed. More casual gamers who likes to pace themselves, like me, should go with the untimed game. Here, players can take as much time as they need to solve puzzles. Aside from being timed or not, the game puzzles remain the same.

If you are having trouble trying to find some crystals that match up then you can click the hint button and it will highlight a move you can make. You can use this option as much as you like and it really comes in handy when you are in the timed modes (and don’t have time to waste searching.) There are helpers and hints in the bonus puzzles too. Here you can cancel moves, as many times as you want, if you made a mistake or you could reset the entire puzzle if you really messed up. There is also a hint option that you can use if you absolutely can’t figure out what move to make next. If you find these rounds too challenging, you can also skip them. Skipping the puzzle will still let you restore the structure, but you won’t get as high a score (and you won’t be a completionist!)

When you go to the tool shop in Old Clockmaker’s Riddle, the clockmaker says what each tool will do and what benefits come from upgrading it. I bought a hammer, which is supposed to break the ice that covers and immobilizes some crystals. It also is supposed to break regular crystals if they are in the way. However, when I went to use it, the game said the hammer was “not powerful enough.” It was discouraging, because I didn’t know how to power it up and I ended up not being able to use the hammer until I upgraded it. I assume there was something I could have done with the non-upgraded hammer but i couldn’t figure out what. Other tools, like the bomb and lightning, are more straightforward, as these appear on the playing field and are used by matching the tool up with the crystal that matches it’s color. I would have appreciated clearer descriptions from the tool store about how each tool can be used at it’s current state, especially since these items can be crucial to winning.

Since Old Clockmaker’s Riddle is an iOS, it can be temporarily closed by hitting the home button. I had some glitch issues whenever I paused it in this manner. When I would return to the game, it froze. It wouldn’t let me move unless I closed the game and reopened it a few times. This was especially a problematic when it happened during the bonus puzzles. It is the only glitch I encountered and tended to happen sporadically.

Counting down

I always like it when a game genre we often see, like match-3 games, tries to make itself unique. Old Clockmaker’s Riddle included the use of tools, bonus puzzles, and the story arc of having to find the clock hands and save a town to stand out from it’s cousins. As well as being different, Old Clockmaker’s Riddle is fun and addictive. It’s a little glitchy and it was hard to figure out how to use some tools, but the bonus puzzles were fun and challenging and I enjoyed the story.

Product Page [iTunes]

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