There are plenty of VR games out in the world now, even if the technology is still somewhat in its infancy. I’m a big fan of how far it’s come as well, with a library stacked for my PSVR and Meta/Oculus Quest 2. Now that I have prescription lenses for my Oculus and PSVR2 from VR-Rock (which you can order here for 10% off with our discount code GAMINGTREND), I’ve definitely been more adventurous in looking for new things to try. A good puzzle game is a lot of fun, but in VR there’s a reliance on intensity at times to really drive the point home. In picking up The Last Clockwinder, I’ve found a game that not only throws that out the window but might be one of the most chill puzzle games in VR I’ve ever played.
You play as Jules, a woman with a connection to a large tree that doubles as a clock tower that houses many different plant varieties from the galaxy, including some that would go extinct if the job of “clockwinder” wasn’t done. The tree is flooding, so you have to go and reset the little robots that make sure the tree operates correctly, and discharge the water. Crazy premise huh?
Throughout your journey, you’ll solve a ton of puzzles, along with rediscovering the story behind Jules’ childhood at the tree, and what has happened to your former mentor Edea. The story is told in bites, with little audio logs as you progress as well as talking with Levi, the one who brought you here, in between your exploration of the clock tower. It works well for the game, providing a narrative that pulls on your heartstrings even with the limitations of VR present. I’m reminded of games like “Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture” and “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter” in tone, and that’s perfectly fine for what the Last Clockwinder sets out to accomplish. The amazing ambience of the soundtrack also blends in the background, ebbing and flowing with each story and mission beat.
One of the things that helps set the mood is the environment itself, which is beautifully crafted by Pontoco. While you aren’t going to get extreme 4K clarity in most VR games, the main room of the tree/clock tower has an ambience that feels homey, and it’s a pleasure to look at and explore. One of the things I absolutely love is how the team handled the power limitations of VR; instead of making you fully load new rooms, the clock tower has a main floor that changes out, almost like a plate with different foods being placed in front of you. I assume the loading times are the reason for this, but in general, it’s a very clever way to use your setting to your advantage.
Playing the game can actually be a little bit more complicated than I initially expected. Firstly, the movement can be intuitive, but also could use some refinement. Pontoco uses the teleport method via holding the analog stick up, which I prefer, and it allows you to play this one comfortably whether sitting or standing. Secondly, where it can be bogged down is how turning around or taking a step back can be annoying. To do that you have to press the analog stick right or left, but at least with my right controller I wasn’t always turning when I pressed it. Beyond that, I would have liked to see the option to teleport back a little bit if I pressed the analog stick down. Once you get used to the movement, you can traverse the space pretty easily, but it could be simpler.
Your main mission in gameplay will be generating the little robots (known as gardeners) to automate the processes around the tree. This is done by pressing a button to record a snippet of what you’re doing, which brings in one of the little guys to copy you. If you managed to screw something up in your movement, or you haven’t figured out exactly what to do, it’s as easy as another button press to cancel that one out.
What’s so awesome about all of this is that you’re solving the puzzles with versions or moments of yourself. I wasn’t just figuring out what needed to be done, I was making the movements necessary to complete the task at hand. Sure, it can get frustrating at times when you try to throw something and it doesn’t respond exactly how you’d like, but such is the reality of motion controls. On PSVR2 it’s honestly pretty good, with the Sense controllers mimicking your movements in one for one fashion.
Some of these puzzles get complex in the amount of robots you’ll need to create, but none of them are too difficult. This allows The Last Clockwinder to be more of a relaxing experience, with an emphasis on taking your time to solve each room. I appreciate the hints available to give me a heads-up on how to proceed, and they don’t go too far in handing you the answer. A specific objective is shown, and I have to figure out how to make it work and hopefully use as few robots as possible.
That is part of the challenge, with each area showing a “best output” leaderboard to let you know if you’re doing as well as you could. Sometimes you’ll just have to step back and see if you’re optimizing things, and it’s in those moments where the lightbulb goes off above your head. From there it’s removing a robot you made earlier where you could have done something differently, then creating your solution. It’s magical, the same kind of feeling I get in games like Portal.
As far as performance goes, the power of the PSVR2 and PS5 work beautifully to make this one run perfectly. I remember trying The Last Clockwinder out on the Meta Quest 2 and it has nothing on PlayStation. There are no screen door effects, the clarity of the environment is incredible, and the loading feels almost instantaneous, both in your teleport movement and in switching to different floors. Pontoco has done an incredible job bringing this one over to PSVR2, and it’s a worthy addition to the launch lineup because of their hard work.
The Last Clockwinder
The Last Clockwinder is one of the more chill games to check out on your new PSVR2, and it’s worthy of the purchase. This is the definitive version, with crisp visuals and motion controls backed by an emotional story you connect with even without seeing any of the characters. If you’re looking to decipher a few puzzles with the help of a few cute little robots, this is the game for you.
- Endearing story and characters
- The copy/paste robots
- Interesting puzzle concepts
- Beautiful visuals
- Great performance on PSVR2
- Movement can be tricky at times
- Occasional annoying motion controls