- Format: PC
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Lace Mamba Global
- Developer: Tomkorp
- Players: 1 – 16
- Site: http://clonesgame.com/
It’s very hard to care about the fate of a mindless blob of smiling goo that will throw itself off the nearest cliff unless you hold its hand over an entire hazardous pilgrimage. It’s even harder to care about his 20 friends that are more than willing to follow him to the same fatal conclusion, just to demonstrate how incompetent you are. However, as frustrating as this extreme baby sitter test can be, you will find yourself compelled to preserve as many of the nameless blobs as possible.
Clones, in its simplest form, tasks players to escort a slightly adorable army of walking creatures from the world entrance to the exit while utilising a series of tools to cross difficult and deadly terrain. It’s a playbook we haven’t seen for a while but it is undoubtedly inspired by Lemmings. Even the press release states the game is Lemmings-like. Is this just a title trying to piggyback on the success of a sparkling series that glimmers through rose tinted specs? Fortunately, it’s not.
Players of Lemmings are going to feel instantly at home. Once you get into the game you’re given a maze of terrain and limited tools to get your clone army to safety. You have the standard digging moves, the float to safety move, limited flight and of course, self-destruct. All are used to navigate, destroy and build either around, through or over the many obstacles your clones will throw themselves into. There are twelve moves in total and each one temporarily morphs your selected clone into the appropriate utility for the duration of the task.
Pleasingly, the moves list isn’t just a copy and paste of classic Lemmings and it has some innovation behind it. In games where destruction of the landscape is relatively freeform, little nooks tend to form that are very easy to overlook. The last thing you expect is for your entire army to slip down into the micro pit and be unable to escape. Of course that’s exactly what clones do. Thankfully, the atomise ability reduces a clone to a pile of climbable debris, plugging the hole and allowing the others to escape. It also provides an excellent means to punish one of the globular troopers to remind the others to step over tiny gaps next time. They won’t of course, but it’s a handy move that solves a mighty hindrance.
The singleplayer campaign takes place over several planets, each with its own unique areas that take you on a tour of the standard set of varied locations, such as snow topped mountains and sun drenched beaches. Each themed area is governed by its own clonemaster, a character that acts as your tutor initially, and then later on challenges you to a competitive game mode as you progress through their trials. This is where the game starts to mix things up. These clonemaster battles challenge you to find the solution to a level faster than your opponent. Each clone has an energy metre that slowly depletes while they are in play, and each one contributes to a cumulative energy metre at the top of the screen. Rescue a greater number of clones faster than the clonemaster to beat them.
Other alternative game modes occasionally jump into the fray including a battle mode that transforms the game into a real-time Lemmings/Worms hybrid where you have to kill an army of opposing clones with the same set of tools usually reserved for destroying the environment. There are also the very ambitious quantum loop levels that ask you to assign orders to three sets of clones in different instances of the same level. For example, tell the blue clones to knock down a wall and then build a bridge, then reload the level in control of the red clones. As the blue clones perform the exact routine they did before, you can tell team red what to do with their tools to push towards the objective.
All of these game modes give this game an incredibly ambitious scope that tries to push what you can do with the Lemmings recipe to its very limits. There’s even a selection of levels that give you direct control over one clone with the usual array of abilities, except you can tell him to jump and move with the arrow keys. Such diversity within the confines of the original formula provides a fantastic sense of pace amongst the puzzles. As soon as you begin to feel wary of the usual click and grind of the standard levels, a new mechanic or game mode will appear out of nowhere. This serves to spice things up and rekindle your interest – like a financial seminar presented by a topless supermodel.
If you’re looking for a nostalgic look back to the Lemmings games then you really can’t go wrong with Clones. Likewise, if you’re looking for a strategy game that is also half puzzler then you won’t be disappointed. There are over 150 levels to try wrapping your mind around which gives the game a long life. Repetition may start to set in as the number of puzzles you’ve solved starts to head into triple figures, but this is just the kind of game you can dip in and out of without fear of being completely useless next time you load it.