This one might get a little meta.
Long-term readers might remember that in the past I’ve been a very vocal fan of Gaslamp Games‘s Dungeons of Dredmor. Still a fan, in fact, I’m just less vocal about it. I didn’t just write a praise-filled review on the still-defunct Blue Screen of Awesome, but later followed that up with a four-page in-depth screed about all the reasons I loved that game. Ninjustin and I even had tentative plans to use Dungeons of Dredmor as the basis for a charity donation drive event. Donations for Dredmor, we’d call it. Hell, that might still pan out someday — TM, TM, TM, and all that.
So when Gaslamp Games announced their second game, Clockwork Empires, a steampunk- and Chthonic-inspired colony builder, I… I generally try to not get swept up in hype, ever since Oblivion did what Oblivion does. But I was more invested in Clockwork Empires than I usually am in games in development. I really kept up with the dev blogs for a while. I checked the Steam page for news and release dates. I even found myself tentatively planning what I’d do with Clockwork Empires when it came out: Review it for Indie Wonderland, or maybe use it as the basis for another Let’s Play? The sky was the limit in those halcyon days. I didn’t actually engage with the game when it hit Early Access, because I’ve got weird documented hangups about Early Access, but I waited.
And then Clockwork Empires actually came out. I’ll give you a moment to search the site for how much I’ve written about it since release. I’ll give you another moment to figure out where out site’s search functionality is hiding. A third, final moment is reserved for the realization that I just deliberately asked you to waste your time; yeah, it’s nothing. I got Clockwork Empires on release, and I even played it a bunch, and then I never mentioned it on the site or wrote anything about.
It turns out that Clockwork Empires just kind of sucks.
Or at least, it did suck. It’s been months since I played it; my last screenshot is dated November 20th, 2016. Might be that it got real good after I stopped playing. Might not be. A quick browse through the Steam reviews seems to reveal that Gaslamp Games stopped all work on Clockwork Empires in December of that year, so I think my take is probably still accurate.
Truth be told, I didn’t write about Clockwork Empires back when I played because I was disappointed. That’s not a good reason to not write; in fact, if anything, a disappointing game should get more press. But for the longest time, I just didn’t want to. I wanted this game to be good, and it wasn’t, and then I just wanted to not think about it again. But I did keep all my screenshots from that play time. I don’t know what’s driving me to write about it right now; maybe I just want to get some lingering disappointment off my chest. Maybe I think a late warning is better than no warning. Maybe there are lessons to be learned from the ways Clockwork Empires disappointed. Or maybe the triple-A game releases in 2017 are off the chain and I’m lagging behind on my indie game coverage like some kind of rank amateur. You choose.
(Spoiler levels: Narrative, not really a factor as far as I know. Mechanical, high-ish.)
(Game source: Bought it myself)
After the break: The three whys of Clockwork Empires.