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Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time (PC) artwork

Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time (PC) review

"Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time wants to tantalize you with inventive gameplay and a fabulous 2D side scroller environment like a viewing into the past. However, one fatal flaw brings the whole construct crashing down. Building different devices to survive the hazards of the future is an intriguing idea, one crushed by shaky and inconsistent physics. "

Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time wants to tantalize you with inventive gameplay and a fabulous 2D side scroller environment like a viewing into the past. However, one fatal flaw brings the whole construct crashing down. Building different devices to survive the hazards of the future is an intriguing idea, one crushed by shaky and inconsistent physics.

No guns, no platforming; the whole experience requires only your brain, utilizing the ruins of civilization--planks, wheels, couches, propellers, rockets--to cross massive lakes, scale sky-scraping walls, and protect yourself from miles of spikes. The first couple levels are standard fare, using planks to make a bridge or a garden gnome as a stepping stone. It's once you find the seat to your time machine that the creative juices get flowing. Slap some wheels on that sucker and you have a scooter. Attach a propeller for a speed boost or to lift up off the ground for a short time, or throw on some rockets to blast yourself high in the sky. You're only limited by materials and imagination, and frequently must assemble new rigs to accommodate new situations, launching over large bodies of water or carefully dropping down ravines filled with deadly spikes.

It's such a fresh take on side scrollers that it's a damn shame there had to be that one mar.

So you've played a little Pimp My Ride and made an unstoppable beast of a vehicle. You go tearing ass down hill, burning through the next-to-harmless robot enemies and leaping over the spacious gaps with ease. Nothing can stop you except that tiny rock in the road that causes your whole rig to roll forward onto its back. Now you face the harsh reality: that there's nothing you can do except dismantle the magnificent machine and rebuild it from scratch. You do so, travel a few feet and come to a hill, charging up it with the same reckless abandon you had before. You never make it to the crest and the rig slows to a halt. Your attempts to move forward prove fruitless as you throttle and roll backwards onto your back again. You jump off the machine, mutter a few choice words, listen to your partner--a backpack crossed with a phonograph--call you an idiot and tell you to commit suicide, and rebuild the rig.

You clear a pit and hit a wall. Time to rebuild.

You blast into the sky and hit the ceiling at just the right angle and tip over. Time to rebuild.

You couldn't stop your vehicle in time and lightly touched one spike. Time to rebuild.

This doesn't happen once, but many dozens of times throughout one level. You spend more time rebuilding than you do actually advancing. Most of the game's frustration comes not from the challenge factor, but from the tedium of having to rebuild.

Your only respite from the repetitious rebuilding is to rewind time a la Prince of Persia, a slightly useful, but ultimately unreliable ability. You can't rewind to any moment you want, but only certain moments. Sometimes you can rewind to a time before you had to rebuild, when your rig was still functional, and other times you find yourself rewinding to the last rebuild you had to do a mere twenty seconds before wrecking.

With the shaky physics comes inconsistency, and you find yourself reduced to rebuilding, rewinding, and trying the same thing over and over again in the hopes that the physics won't screw you. You hit a jump once and land in the icy cold water below, sinking to the depths. You hit the jump a second time, timing it exactly the same as before, and just about clear it. After a few more tries of timing the jump precisely as you had before, you find you eventually clear the obstacle and land without incident.

It all relies on trial and error, but gives you inconsistent physics with which to work. Once you realize that, you know you're done with the game. You let the doc plummet down the nearest gorge to his death and close the program, never to give it another thought.

Doc Clock brings a new puzzle element to the side scroller, but fails to implement the proper physics. I want so badly to like this game, but I can only stomach so much of having to stop and rebuild the rig every five seconds. It's frustrating for all the wrong reasons, like you aren't being defeated by the game but by its flaws. With many better side scrollers out there, both old and new, there's very little reason to give Doc Clock the time of day.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (January 27, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Ninjamohawk posted February 03, 2011:

Very nice review. I couldn't help but agree with all of your points. I picked up the game in a steam bundle a month ago or so and it let me down within the hour.

Anyway I thought your review was very helpful to anybody on the fence.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 04, 2011:

Heh, thanks! I, too, bought it with a ton of games during the big Steam sale, and so far it's the first game to really disappoint me on a large scale from that group. It's a shame, too, because I'm really getting back into side scrollers since they've made a quasi-comeback.

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