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Clive N Wrench review – a Kazooie lost in time

In the last few years, there has been a bit of a resurgence of the classic 3D platformer. And by classic, I refer to those late 90s examples such as Spyro or Gex: colorful and (more or less) fun platformers which captured the imagination of many young gamers. So, after such valiant attempts as A Hat in Time, Clive N Wrench is here to provide us with a bit of Banjo-Kazooie fun. Is it worth our time or will we be a monkey’s uncle? Find out in our Clive N Wrench review.

As it usually happens the evil Dr Daucus is out to conquer the world and it is up to Clive, the rabbit, and Wrench, the monkey on his back to thwart his evil plans. To do so, they will have to travel in their time-bending fridge, going back to various times and places to recover all the pieces of a time clock. Nothing special, but there is definitely enough material to feature levels with quirky and weird ideas.

The writing takes plenty advantage of all the strange situations we’ll find ourselves in, such as exploring a giant apartment or a Jack The Ripper-like Victorian London neighborhood. The writing is probably one of the best things about the game, with character design being appropriately funny and many nice little gags and touches, especially going on in the background. Personally, I like my pop culture references to not be shoved in my face so, on this, Clive N Wrench gets my stamp of approval.

The gameplay definitely aims for that kind of collect-a-thon nostalgic vibe – explore levels around, and find watches, keys and tokens while watching out for enemies. Collect enough tokens and you’ll be able to unlock the boss of the level, so you can proceed to the next zone. Clive n Wrench offers the simple, but classic, pleasure of exploring quite big levels, which – generally – don’t feel like they have tons of things to do.

Where, unfortunately, the first cracks start to show is in the controls. They feel too loose for the kind of precise platforming you’re called to do. Granted, this is no ultra-hard 3D platformer, it is definitely irritating to keep getting hurt because the attack doesn’t work correctly. The animation is very hard to time right with the enemies’ approaches. Despite my trying again and again, I got hurt more times than I cared for. Climbing poles is also strangely more difficult than it would seem.

Graphically, the game is appropriately cartoony, with colorful environments and well-animated enemies and a great-looking main character. Unfortunately, the performance on PC also tends to swing wildly, with the game randomly slowing down in some sections for no apparent reason. Also, there’s more clipping than one would wish for there to be in a polished release.

While none of the issues I have described would qualify as dealbreakers. Altogether, they do contribute to a general feeling of a game being unfinished, thus making it hard to recommend Clive N Wrench outside of the classic fan base of the genre. After ten years in development, that is kind of a shame. Still, for those that would decide to stick around, Clive N Wrench does offer a pretty functional basic package of 3D platforming, closer to Gex – let’s say – rather than Spyro or Crash Bandicoot.

Clive N Wrench right now feels a bit like a game in early access; one that is clearly quite promising but still feeling slightly unfinished in regards to graphics, controls and quality-of-life features. Fans of the genre might be able to ignore most issues, so they can take a deep dive anyway. Otherwise, I would recommend waiting. I’m sure the developers would like to finally complete a game they’ve been working on all this time. Hopefully, for good.

Our Clive N Wrench review was made available with a Steam key sent in by the publisher, Numskull Games. Clive n Wrench is available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4/5.

Clive'N'Wrench: Clive'N'Wrench is a colorful little 3D platformer with some issues in regards to controls, graphics and performance which slightly bring down the entertainment value. Damiano Gerli

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Damiano Gerli

Damiano Gerli was born with a faithful Commodore 64 by his side. It taught him how to program basic adventure games and introduced him to new genres. Then, he fell in love with Sega -- while the Master System wasn't as powerful as the Genesis, it was where he played Sonic and Outrun. Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple. Damiano is a gaming industry professional and historian, loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs. Basically, Damiano is been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on X at @damgentemp.