Clea – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure game
Developer: InvertMouse
Publisher: Sekai Project
Platform: Switch, PC
Tested on: Switch

Clea – Review

Site Score
6.0
Good: Unsettling soundscape
Bad: Repetitive gameplay if you're a completionist
User Score
4.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Joining the long list of horror-themed releases in October is Clea. The timing of Clea’s release certainly is no coïncidence, as the game’s October 30th release means it drops just in time for Halloween. Of course, Clea is just one title in a sea of spooky games arriving around this period. So how does Clea attempt to stand out from the crowd, and more importantly: does it succeed in being scary? 

Story

It is the eve of Clea’s birthday. As she and her brother Ed are ready to enjoy the festivities at Whitlock Mansion, Clea notices the absence of her parents. Reassuring the children that their parents will join them later, nanny Florine insists the children start celebrating. The festivities are cut short, however, due to a mysterious noise. When Florine goes to check it out, she leaves the kids to their own devices. Clea and Ed realize that they are in danger without Florine around and now it is up to them to stay safe from the enigmatic Chaos Servants who roam the halls of the mansion.

The game’s story is shrouded in mystery, and it isn’t exactly clear what is happening in the early stages. The children are clearly aware who these Chaos Servants are and have dealt with them before, but the player is left in the dark about the game’s happenings. Early references about Clea needing a potion daily and past events not being her fault hint at a deeper story involving Clea’s dark side. We won’t spoil the events that unfold but the game offers an interesting view into Clea’s psyche and her inner struggle with a side of her that she doesn’t want to be confronted with. 

Graphics

We weren’t particularly impressed with Clea’s visuals. The character designs are appealing but the 2D animations feel like they came straight out of an early 2000’s Flash game. Additionally, the mansion’s rooms and corridors feel very square and repetitive. The illusion of depth is created by having objects in the foreground on a different layer but this is not enough to make the mansion feel organic. There is no real interaction between the various elements on screen either. When you want to pick up an object, the inventory screen opens and when Clea dies, the game cuts to a game over screen. While we can’t fault the game for having simple graphics, it is a bit jarring to see that a lot of the unlockable content is based around cosmetics, which in essence boil down to simple palette swaps for Clea herself. 

Sound

Clea features some of the best sound design we’ve recently had the pleasure to experience in a game. This isn’t because of the music, because that’s quite unremarkable, nor is it because of the voice acting, which is serviceable but not outstanding. The real strength of Clea’s sound design lies in its environmental sounds. The mansion where the game takes place is an old, creaky place and as such you’ll continuously hear sounds that you can’t quite identify. Additionally, the heavy footsteps and loud breathing of enemies constantly keep you on your toes, as these sounds are present even when said enemy isn’t in the same room but in an adjacent one. This effect is emphasised on the Switch when playing in handheld mode while wearing headphones, preferably in a dark room. It is through this soundscape that Clea manages to be genuinely unsettling without having to rely on cheap jumpscares. 

Gameplay

Although billed as an adventure game, Clea feels like a survival horror title. The caveat here is that it’s a 2D game, whereas survival horror games tend to be 3D affairs. Playing as Clea herself, your aim is to make your way through her parents’ mansion and solve the mysteries that surround Clea and her family along the way. This is easier said than done as the mansion is crawling with various creatures that are out to get Clea and her little brother. There are ways to deal with these enemies, but the tools provided are limited and most of the time, you’ll be trying to avoid them by sneaking around and hiding when possible. 

The gameplay is rather simple. Levels consist of corridors with rooms that can be entered. The aim is to reach the end of the level but to do so you’ll need to visit the rooms and gather items, such as key parts and other helpful tools. Key parts can then be combined into keys that allow you to open doors. Other items include candles that repel enemies as long as you stay in the same room and potions that will heal Clea’s scars. Should you encounter an enemy, you have a couple of seconds to respond or face your demise. Chaos Servants, the game’s most prominent enemies, require the aforementioned candles or that you hide in a closet, but other enemies have different ways of being dealt with. Take spiders for example, who will simply try to sneak up on you from behind but will run away as soon as you look at them, similar to Boo from the Mario series. 

Successfully reaching the end of a level will then show you how well you did. The game times how long it takes you to finish a level and gives bonus points for finishing side objectives, such as clearing the level without hiding in a closet. Developer InvertMouse isn’t exactly subtle about wanting you to replay the levels multiple times. Clea has a plethora of cosmetic unlockables for the titular character, as well as various modes and in order to see everything, you’ll be replaying various sections of the game over and over again. While this will keep completionists occupied for quite some time, we fear that this approach will turn off most players as the game can feel quite repetitive after some prolonged time with it. Given that you can play through the game’s story in about an hour, provided you know what you’re doing, there’s perhaps not enough here to warrant the price point. 

Conclusion

Clea ends up being a bit of a mixed bag. We were impressed with how the soundscape manages to be genuinely creepy and the story is intriguing enough to keep you pushing forward. On the other hand, Clea looks and feels like a cheap Flash game and the gameplay is very repetitive. Be aware that if you only want to play through the story once, you’re looking at a game that is too short for the price of entry. If you don’t mind tackling the levels multiple times to unlock bonus stuff, and if you’re in the market for a game that manages to be actually scary, then give Clea a chance. 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Clea - Review, 4.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.