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Claybook is a casual, physics-based game that will make your inner-child very, very happy. Claybook creates so much joy, it’s difficult not to recommend it to everyone. Much like the other Video Game Recs games, this one has also been seriously overlooked, with 111 reviews on Steam, and a ‘Mixed’ review response. It’s not a difficult game, it’s perhaps even one of the most chill games I’ve come across, but that’s what makes it great.
Within the game, players move a blob of modelling clay around different modelling clay environments and solve puzzles. That’s it. Play is contained to the table in a child’s bedroom where different clay-based terrains have been created for you to explore.
In game, the clay blob players control can be morphed into different shapes according to which shape best fits the puzzle, be it if the clay environment needs wearing away, if smaller tunnels need accessing, or if items need to be moved. It is also possible to possess other clay objects, such as a clay rocket powered by clay water, a ball with ridges that can be used to repel water, a clay rubber duck, or large clay cubes. The environment changes according to how players interact with it, since a trail is left in the ground wherever players move, meaning that prior actions could either inhibit or aid play. Players are constantly morphing their own playable clay as well as the surrounding environment the more they interact.
Puzzles can also incorporate the rewind action, where players can reset their clay model but leave the environment altered. This action also leaves a former version of your clay self so you can use versions of your clay blob to create bridges or steps.
The physics-based elements in game are related to both the use of the clay to move objects, and by the liquid and solid forms of clay. In doing this, the game incorporates water puzzles and floating mechanics, adding to the game experience. This clay water then powers the clay rocket you can access in the tutorial. There are also multiplayer options (both local co-op and online), achievements challenges, community level creations, and a sandbox.
The game is aesthetically pleasing, with soft clay edges, soft colours, and soft (yet accurate) shadows. If you zoom in on the environment, it is possible to see fingerprints on the clay, much like in early Aardman Animations stop motion. It’s truly a game that plays to childhood nostalgia of Wallace and Gromit, Morph, and Chicken Run.
The worst part of the game isn’t the gameplay itself, but the child who sits in the room watching the table. Everywhere you move as your little clay sphere, cube, cylinder, or blob, his eyes will follow you across the table top with unblinking eyes and this creepy, emotionless smile on his face.
Claybook generally plays as a very wholesome and relaxed game, which is the break we sometimes need. It’s outright pleasant! It may not be for everyone, with its simplistic style, bright colours, and off putting, eagle-eyed child, but the simplicity of it is what makes it an enjoyable game for me. Who doesn’t need to cater to their inner-child through a creative clay game?