If you like your point and click puzzle games with a dash of the macabre, there’s a good chance you’ll get a big kick out of CLeM. Well, more than a dash, actually: you’ll be digging a dead cat out of its garden grave within the first fifteen minutes.
Don’t let that put you off, though. The cute and disturbing intertwine perfectly in CLeM, a puzzle adventure that has you playing as a strange doll-like creature, given life by a little girl’s voice who spurs you on. “Bring me beauty,” she exclaims as you first wake up. The book in front of you, which becomes your guide throughout your adventure, reveals beauty to be a butterfly. Right: you’re looking for a butterfly, then.
In true point-and-click adventure style, CLeM has you picking up items and combining them in order to solve the puzzles you need to move forward. There’s nothing horrendously difficult here, but mostly because you’re limited to a fairly small environment with limited options. Admittedly, we did get stuck a few times, but if you find yourself wandering around for more than a few minutes, that same girl’s voice will speak up, giving you a nudge in the right direction.
The entirety of CLeM takes place in one house, with around a dozen rooms to explore overall. Many of these rooms are closed off to begin with, and as each new chapter begins – there are five in total – more areas will become available to you. Developer Mango Protocol has dubbed this a “puzzlevania”, but that’s a bit of a stretch given the overall area is rather limited and gaining access to new rooms is simply part of the puzzle solving process.
Still, it’s nice to have a sense of progression, and wandering into a new room for the first time – even if it’s a fairly small area, as most rooms in CLeM are – is exciting. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to find, and some of the puzzles on offer are wonderfully satisfying to solve.
Your character carries a notebook with them, and they’ll jot down their findings along with adding any letters or notes they find. Much of what’s in the notebook will act as your guide, offering you a subtle clue or, in the case of some puzzles, spelling out the answer for you. One of our favourites is in the study, where moving books in a certain pattern will open the door (amongst other things…).
Sporting a gorgeous 2D art style, the world of CLeM is limited but beautiful to explore. As you move from cellar to kitchen to garden and back again, you’ll take in a great amount of detail, from portraits of cats to dirty dishes building up on the sink. Not everything can be interacted with and much of what’s here is simply background filler, but it’s that attention to detail that really brings CLeM to life.
CLeM isn’t a very long game: you’ll finish it in around three hours, much less if you know what you’re doing with all the puzzles. Short but sinisterly sweet, then, it’s just the right length to fit in a good amount of puzzles without overstaying its welcome. If you’re a fan of Mango Protocol’s other games – or indeed anything with a slightly dark undertone – you’ll love this.