The great thing about the Nintendo Switch is the wealth of indie games that have clocked into my morning commute. From procedural platformers to experimental titles, I’ve seen it all. Now, developer Kool2Play has unleashed a thoroughly unexpected experience in Clock Simulator.
Clock simulator really is a game and is actually better described as a cluster of mini-games that set players against the clock. For anybody willing to take the time out to play the first moments of the opening tutorial or the multiplayer infuriation of Last Pig Standing, Clock Simulator is not always exactly what you might expect.
After all that talk of a different experience, getting into gear with Clock Simulator is pretty straight forward. The thirteen mini-games that make up Clock Simulator are almost all variations on a theme and controls are not much more than a simple press of the button. The tutorial initially teaches players how to move the hands of a simple clock face forward while keeping time. Pressing any action button moves the second hand forward and as long as you can keep tie then the tutorial will continue indefinitely, giving feedback on your pace.
As things tick from here, other game progress into other iterations of this task. This ranges from The Spirits of Time, where players must keep time to attract a set of five ghosts, or The Fragility of Time, where only a few mistakes are allowed before the second hands crumble apart. The result is going to be hugely divisive for anybody who wants to try to keep to the rhythm. I’m a fan of rhythm games, even if I’m not that good, which was mostly to my advantage. While this does not contain the soundtrack or variation that games like NAME have, taking on Clock Simulator was somewhat calming. This is not going to be the case for everyone. In fact, Clock Simulator can be just utterly infuriating when things unravel. Watching games come to a conclusion in five seconds flat, constantly watching time just slip away can lead down into a well of failure.
The most engaging part of the single-player portion of Clock Simulator is actually a series of mini-games that are closer to pattern matching problems than the clock facing games. Dungeons and Aliens and the It’s XYAB Time game are actually fun asides that challenge players to clock the correct controller button to continue progressing. It’s like an infinite runner with a new theme. That might not seem like much incentive to play this game rather than just pick up a free mobile game, but the Nintendo Switch does offer the option to get some friends in on a quick game.
Two multiplayer mini-games are available in Clock Simulator bringing a little light competition to your locale. Last Pig Standing and Clock Fight take players on a trip around the day as they try to keep the best time and even make some minute cubed animals jump around a clock. 1-4 players can get in on the action, using left and right Joycons or individual controllers. This does add a little bit of spice to a simple set of mechanics, but it is no Overcooked.
I found that the bell tolls quite quickly for Clock Simulator, however. Under the kooky clock face and the party games, things are very linear. Where many rhythm games take complex compositions and challenge players not to step out of time, Clock Simulator is incredibly linear. It’s intricate timing and variation on failure states are fun for a time but it is just as likely to drive the sale of new Joycon controllers as induce a zen-like state. You’ve got to admire Kool2Play for trying something different but it just feels like Clock Simulator could have been far more inventive. If you are a fan of keeping time then I would try out the utterly excellent Voez, Just Shapes & Beats, or Taiko no Tatsujin for some party based percussion instead. Clock Simulator is out now on the Nintendo eShop for $3.99.