You might be surprised to discover that a game like The Last Clockwinder is not, in fact, a virtual reality puzzle game that has you winding clocks. Released last year for Quest 2 and Steam VR, its automated fruit harvesting puzzles have now made their way to console for the launch of PlayStation VR 2.
The Last Clockwinder is essentially set in one room of a steampunk clocktower with an outer walkway that never changes, except that this space is constantly transformed by switching the central floor to a new layout and location on the map. Each room is a puzzle with levers to be pulled, fruit to be harvested, chopped and pulped, and wheels to be turned. That’s a lot of work for one person to do, and it’s here where The Last Clockwinder’s main hook comes into play.
At the start of the game you pick up a pair of gloves and by pressing square on the Sense controller you can record your physical movements over a set period of time. Once recorded, an AI bot will spawn and repeat your motions in a continuous cycle. You can spawn as many of these robots as you like, chaining together a string of actions to a Rube Goldberg-esque machine of bots that can harvest the fruit and transport them round the room. How you solve the puzzles is up to you, so you could have robots handing fruit back and forth or, as I preferred to do, spend ages getting the perfect throw and catch across the room.
Player interaction is limited to switches, fruit and puzzle items, and it would have been nice if you could interact with more things in the game, perhaps moving a table to place a robot on to get some height, or picking up a book and using it to swat a fruit across the room.
While you are the only human in the tower there are radio messages and recordings to listen to that gradually reveal the story of the giant waterlogged tree clock and the weird plants it contains. These are beautifully acted and are accompanied with some delightful piano music which compliments the stress free puzzles. Things do get a little more complex as you near the end of the game and there are a couple of puzzles that take some time to work out – you are very much on your own here with no hints or voice overs butting in to give you hints of what to do.
You can also optimise your chains of robots at any moment by travelling back to a room and there are tasks to achieve. These are based on the amount of fruit you’re collecting per minute and the number of robots you use, pushing you to be more efficient with your robot workforce.
While there’s not much VR wow factor, the visual style is pleasant enough with a charming animated movie look. It’s absolutely a VR game though, because of the physical nature of the solutions you record. The game is best played from a standing position so you can get some decent throws across the play area, and comes with the usual teleport or smooth motion controllers, the latter of which you can ramp up to quite a sickening speed.