I like kooky. I like point and click adventures that embed themselves in the dullness of reality but with a surreal twist. I’ve even watched Amelie more than once. So, when I was offered Clam Man, a game about a man who has a clam for a head with a rustic hand drawn feel to it I couldn’t resist. This is our Clam Man review.
Clam Man takes place in Snacky Bay, where you’ve recently been promoted to Junior Sales Representative at a business that sells mayonnaise. No, I’m not making this up. And then it all goes clam-shaped and you find yourself fired by your lobster-boss. And then begins the great egg-based condiment conspiracy.
There’s a fair bit to like about Clam Man. The art design feels and looks pretty indie, so if niche artsy type games are your thing then the style of Clam Man will definitely tick your box. The smooth jazz soundtrack is pretty smooth and would be better if it didn’t have the same four tracks on an endless loop complete with sudden cuts at random times. Obviously, the aim is to hit the nostalgia factor for the old Lucas Art point and click adventures with Clam Man, and there’s a very definite Sam & Max vibe to the whole affair.
The whole setting is unique, and the humor is a very dry, British overtone to it. There’s a good smattering of fish puns through the game, and some of the characters you’ll meet are great; the trio of wholesome mobsters that recognize the value of true friendship while threatening you only to dance off the screen with some slick West Side Story moves is certainly a standout.
But this game isn’t riddled with issues. The absolute cardinal sin here is that this is an adventure game without any actual adventure. I’ve got an inventory system that I don’t think I even used more than twice. In fact, I bought a sandbag and it’s not even there! The game railroads you to the point of frustration, I tried to walk down a side street and Clammy just responds “Nah”. It’s infuriating that this game is so linear and devoid of any puzzle solving that all you’re doing is walking around reading the conversations and occasionally clicking on the background to get some flavor text. If there’s one slight redemption to the lack of puzzles, when they do turn up (all three of them) they at least use the same mechanics as adventure games from 1995 by dragging things together in your inventory to see if the merge and then slapping them all over objects on the screen to see where they stick.
Speaking of text, the conversations are remarkably dull. The core plot of why you were fired is a conversation I’ve heard a dozen times in real pubs that don’t spark adventure. The setting, aside from a few nautical puns is completely wasted and any off-kilter moments, like your landlord’s daughter coming around to strong-arm you for more rent, falls totally flat from the sheer banality of the whole affair.