PEGBJRE: Clam Man
I hope you like seafood.
Clam Man is a point and click adventure by Marafrass, a solo indie dev out of Quebec with assistance from two others via the monikers of @jejkobbb @too.cool.blue. Players get a story following the life and times of the titular Clam Man, a man who is a clam, and his ‘adventures’ as he attempts to uncover a secret plot that will ruin the company that dared to fire him from his job as Junior Associate Sales. Along the way, he meets dozens of colourful characters and learns the true meaning of friendship — at least he would, if he wasn’t so busy satirizing everything.
Clam Man checks all of the boxes one would expect from a point and click adventure. Clam Man follows the path of a protagonist stuck in a bizarre world that doesn’t make entire sense, amplified by the ability to break the fourth wall along with many of the others set in a simple town and office complex. He pokes fun at the writing of his own character and his dullness, the numerous cliché’s he comes across while out and about, and the failed attempts a subverting expectations that he himself employs. Conversations leading to choices can be filled with 10 different answers, commenting on a player’s habits to simply start at the top and go to the bottom of the list if they are unaware of the answer. Plot devices mysteriously appear for him in convenient locations, or at least that’s how he views them in an upbeat cynicism. Characters may give information freely, or Clam Man may stumble into a multi-hour backstory of one who just really wants someone to talk to.
It’s the tone’s lighthearted nature to simply have fun with an absurd plot keeps everything wrapped up nicely as to not come off as excessively quirky, the fear I had that was thankfully avoided. It’s the variation of the joke elements from absurd to satire to simple puns that keeps the game fresh, if a tad bit unfocused (but I feel like that’s the point?) with some of the jokes. Players will go from bouncing up and down with some cool cat jellyfish to monologuing in the darkness only to be interrupted by a mysterious figure and make everything super awkward to grammar puns to internet meme references. The writing for the characters specifically is done so that players get an ebb and flow of chaos, avoiding a barrage of comedy which can dull the senses and instead surrounding them in an atmosphere where they should expect truly bizarre conversations to occur in between those that make sense. Many of the constant jokes are found within the world itself on posters, signs, and other objects that interacting with them has little effect on the plot. Clicking every item can clutter up the flow of the game, or add to its chaotic fun times depending on how players view their comedy — personally I interacted with about 50% of the items, so I got a good balance.
Now, Clam Man does have the other staple of this genre in puzzles, but promptly states it’s primary focus is on story and narrative over the puzzles which, for anyone that knows me, is just perfect for my ‘somehow-still-bad-at-puzzles’ brain. Most of the revolve around finding items and understanding how they can be connected or giving items to certain people to get new dialogue or solve their problem, nothing really new there. Clam Man does, however, have one of my favourite kinds of puzzles within the game: a logic puzzle. For those unfamiliar, logic puzzles revolve around fitting information into a grid to connect who is where doing what, like playing Clue without friends. There is a sequence within this game that asks players to solve one, and gives the option for easier or harder clues so players can decide how much time they are willing to invest solving this. I unfortunately made a minor mistake and just said ‘harder’ and I won’t comment how long it took me. The point of the puzzle is to solve which locations certain individuals may be so that Clam Man can connect the red yarn tying up his apartment, finally freeing him from this red terror.
Clam Man is a game that embraces its own satire to satirize itself to the point of excess. It creates an atmosphere and world at the bottom of the sea where a clam has a sales position selling mayo and that isn’t the most confusing thing to say about it. The game wants you to join it for a ride of nonsense, bringing a solid silly storyline to life with a world you can get to know, or completely ignore in favour of just enjoying the ride. The soundtrack also does a fantastic job to elevate this game to new heights, bringing new tracks for different scenarios that amplify the over-the-top situation. Only in Clam Man does an intimidating group of mobsters also double as my motivational support group whilst intimidating me. If you enjoy nonsense story lines and dozens of well written (or not, according to Clam Man himself) dialogue and jokes, give Clam Man a try. It’s not long, but it’s definitely worth the dive.
PS: Nat is adorable, bless her.