[Review] Clea – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: InvertMouse
  • Publisher: Sekai Games
  • Release Date: 30/10/2020
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by: Sekai Games
  • Version reviewed: 1.1

Introducing Clea Switch Review

Right in time for a spooky Halloween, InvertMouse’s Clea grins upon our beloved console. Being a survival horror game without any jump scares, it is right up my alley and I simply had to try it. Let’s see if I got delightful goosebumps or if it was a horrible port!

The game begins with a small birthday party. Clea, her brother Ed and Florine, one of the family’s maids, just started to slice up the birthday cake when Florine notices Chaos Servants moving around the mansion. She advises the kids to stay put and leaves to investigate. This is the point when you take control of the little girl. Being the rebellious daughter you are, you decide to flee from the house yourself and start exploring the mansion with your smaller brother in tow.

Don’t make a sound!

Exploration and leaving the house are easier said than done, because the Chaos Servants, as well as other strange enemies, are on the prowl for you and getting caught means certain death. Additionally, several doors within the huge house are locked and you first have to find all the parts of the corresponding key – and assemble it correctly – before you can open them.
Only by sneaking through the rooms and hallways without creating too much noise – your enemies indeed have sharp claws and ears – and solving all the puzzles you have a chance to escape. The objects and notes you find on your way will help you understand what’s really going on around you. Sorry, have to hide now before I get caught by the spoilers!

For those of you who like to 100% games, there is a lot of replay value in CLEA. Speedrun the game on all of the four available difficulties or get all the medals/trophies and costumes for the heroine.

Come on, let’s hide in the cupboard!

Being totally honest, I love the 2D artstyle of this game. Think of shadow play marionettes, but colourful and spookily lit ones. Their animations are fluid and it’s a joy just watching Clea and the others move. They glide through the mansion like carefully orchestrated puppets.

The backgrounds aren’t as detailed. They are basic but distinctive enough. What makes them work is the lighting. Clea moves around with a small lantern and always stays in the centre of the screen. This means that this part will always be well lit, while the corners and borders will fade into darkness limiting your view. Doom and gloom keeping you riveted to the screen.

There isn’t much music in the game and what’s there is finely tuned to support the haunting, spooky and creepy atmosphere of it. Upon this foundation, the sound effects excel. The dripping water, the constant ticking of a clock, your hushed steps while walking, the drumming of your feet while running as well as the various noises of your pursuers keep you on your toes. That’s a good thing, because often you’ll hear your pursuers before you see them. Or, even worse, they take notice of you. Being seen often ends with your untimely demise. So take heed of the developer’s recommendation to use headphones.

Let’s distract them and run for it!

Playing docked or handheld make no difference in performance. Both playstyles are fine. Personnaly, I’d suggest playing handheld with headphones: It’s so much creepier!

Conclusion

CLEA is a game demanding cleverness as well as patience. Being hasty or taking the wrong turn can lead to your death. Tread carefully and you will survive the Whitlock mansion.

Pros

  • Great story and creepy atmosphere
  • Artstyle and sound design
  • Very accessible with four different difficulty settings
  • No jump scares

Cons

  • Saving only possible at certain places
  • Limited inventory (but upgrades are possible through gameplay)

Verdict
From visuals to sound design to story, CLEA is a wonderful game I can highly recommend playing.

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