2D platforming gets genetically re-engineered. What could go wrong?
Cloning Clyde is a puzzle platformer that, when compared to Braid, is not as gorgeous, tightly controlled, or emotionally resonate. It stumbles along like an awkward, clumsy teenager. In the shadow of its superior, it simply shouldn't be your first choice, but if you want more puzzle-platforming, Cloning Clyde provides enough of its own charm to be an acceptable second choice.
Clyde, the guinea-pig protagonist, is only getting paid twenty bucks to be cloned, mutated, and if you play poorly, mutilated. So it's understandable that most of his moves are pulled from every other platforming title. He can run left or right, climb ladders, jump and control the trajectory in mid-air. It's all been done before, but poor Clyde is about as coordinated as he is intelligent, as he doesn't quite jump precisely, which is unfortunate since you tend to jump a lot in platformers. This makes levels needlessly difficult at times, but it still works well enough to stop you from kicking your 360. But this coupled with level design that isn't unique or intricate leads to some very middle-of-the-road platforming.
Bottom line: As a pure platformer, Cloning Clyde levels are big, empty, and too easy to navigate. It seems like the developers were compensating for Clyde's inability to jump just right, and it resulted in some fairly dull action. Also not to mention the fact that you have to defeat four or so of the exact same type of enemies, and it is always done the same way. Blargh.
But it's the mind-testers in the levels that save Cloning Clyde from mediocrity. With more than one Clyde to control, and the ability to mutate him into half-man, half-sheep/chicken/frog/monkey/exploding barrel, there are some interesting hooks to the puzzle-solving, which mostly follow common puzzle conventions like switches, buttons, trap doors, and portals. When combined with multiple Clydes to control and mutations, however, some of the solutions are novel. At times, though, what must be done is rather obvious and yet involves multiple Clydes, which can end up with you doing the same thing eight times over with eight separate Clydes. On the whole, though, most puzzles emphasize the interesting and unique aspects of Cloning Clyde to be more entertaining than not.
Mutation allows you to combine your genes with that of an animal, and horrific ethical implications aside, adds some much-needed variety. The chicken gives you the ability to fly; the frog lets you dive underwater and swim faster; the sheep allows you to jump much further; the monkey lets you hang cling to the ceiling; and the exploding barrel lets you explode repeatedly without hurting yourself. Beyond the obvious entertainment of making yourself explode every
twenty ten two seconds, each adds some variety to what you're doing, giving levels that integrate these elements a different feel from the others.
Xbox Live games theoretically have the same access to the hardware that the disc-based games do, but you wouldn't think that from looking at or listening to Cloning Clyde. They were clearly attempting a visual style reminiscent of Looney Toons, with warped shapes and odd colors, but it lacks energy. The sound is even more barren. Aside from the lack of ambient noises, music plays infrequently to the point where it's almost startling when you hear it, and even when you do, it's pretty underwhelming. Aesthetically, it's all the flavor of bran flakes, minus the nutritional value.
Still, Cloning Clyde provides a competent, unique experience that you cannot get anywhere else. If you want a solid puzzle 2D platformer, it's entertaining, and has enough breadth to justify its ten dollar asking price. But it's outdone in everything it attempts by Braid, and there are a few better-made remakes such as Castlevania and EXIT. If you're intrigued by a puzzle platformer involving duplication and genetic mayhem, Cloning Clyde will provide a few hours of enjoyable entertainment, but not much more than that.