The Last Clockwinder PS VR2 review – Virtual ingenuity at its finest

The Last Clockwinder gameplayPontoco

The Last Clockwinder will stun you with its extraordinarily creative approach to puzzle design while charming you with its well-written and wonderfully acted characters. It’s one of the most inventive VR puzzle games on the market and a true must-play for those seeking an authentic VR experience you just can’t get anywhere else.

When it comes to virtual reality, some developers simply harness the tools available in an effort to further the player’s immersion. Others, however, take things a step further, thinking outside the box in creating new systems and mechanics unique to the space, things that aren’t possible in regular gaming experiences. The Last Clockwinder fits firmly into the latter camp.

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Approaching puzzles in a completely original way, this stunningly original title will soon have you thinking outside the box as well. With conventional strategies thrown out the window, it forces you to work to a solution differently from how you might expect and approach each situation with a degree of mindfulness absent from the typical gaming session.

Its inventiveness isn’t just limited to level design, either. From the narrative to visual presentation, The Last Clockwinder is a full package that will keep you on your toes from start to finish as you navigate this fantastical voyage with an unrivaled sense of wonder.

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The Last Clockwinder – Key Details

  • Developers: Pontoco
  • Price (PS5): $24.99 (USD) | $37.95 (AUD) | £19.99
  • Release date (PS VR2 version): February 22, 2023
  • Platforms: PS5 & PC

The Last Clockwinder – Trailer

You are the solution to every puzzle

Dropped into the middle of a seemingly bottomless tower, your focus in The Last Clockwinder is to figure out an optimal means of automating various processes on each individual floor. Whether it’s plucking fruit on repeat or turning a crank to produce valuable resources, your aim is to figure out the most efficient system to ensure work keeps on churning while you’re off elsewhere.

Now you might think this is done in typical puzzle game fashion. Maybe it’s placing objects in the right positions. Perhaps it’s angling beams around a room. If you’ve played any title in the genre in recent generations you’ve likely experienced these tropes time and again. Flipping the script, The Last Clockwinder does away with this standard practice. Instead, you yourself are the key puzzle element in play.

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Given your full range of movement in the virtual realm, you can grab objects, throw them around, walk to the perfect position, delicately place things, and so on. With the touch of a button, The Last Clockwinder allows you to record just a few brief seconds of your real-world movement. Once captured, a robot is then generated in your place to repeat said movement on a loop.

The Last Clockwinder gameplayPontoco
Each motion made while recording will then be replicated by a robot in your place.

It’s through this capturing process that the game’s magic begins to shine. At first you’re starting small, just one or two robots in a room. You might first need one to hold a door open, so you quickly record a snippet of yourself doing just that. The other may need to pick up an object and throw it through the door, so you then head to the other side of the room and arc the perfect throw while recording. In the blink of an eye, your two actions have merged together in a glorious, endless cycle.

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That, however, is just one simple example. Before long, you’re lost in the illusion, setting up dozens of robot recordings to automate complicated tasks like a mad scientist piecing together an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine. All of it works so seamlessly as you map out the puzzle pieces in your own way, coming to a unique solution through your own stream of actions.

When things all come together as you envisioned, it’s an immensely satisfying display as you sit back and watch countless recordings of your own motions work in sync with one another to achieve a common goal. Each component is just one cog in a bigger machine and boy, do some of these machines sure get elaborate.

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The Last Clockwinder gameplayPontoco
The more elaborate the task, the most robots you’ll need.

Tying every separate puzzle together as an overall economy. The more efficient your systems on each floor, the more resources at your disposal. These resources then allow you to access further floors in the vertical labyrinth, thus pushing the snowball further downhill while you also advance the overarching story.

It’s a wonderfully addicting symphony as you push forward, figure out new tricks, head back through earlier stages to optimize through new learnings, and repeat ad nauseam. For the perfectionists out there, few games will scratch the itch quite like The Last Clockwinder.

Though that’s not to say all is perfect. For VR newcomers, it’s worth bearing in mind the motion sickness-friendly teleport movement options can be quite cumbersome. For other VR titles in the space, this option offers a degree of flexibility as you precisely pick and choose exactly where to leap. But in this instance, it can be quite tricky mapping out the correct path and if you do end up in the wrong spot, there’s no quick backtracking option.

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This issue is only further compounded when trying to erase robots you no longer need. Given they generate right on top of you, your only options are to awkwardly try and point the Sense controller inside your body, or navigate around, doing a slower three-point turn to get where you want. It’s by no means a dealbreaker at any point, but it certainly does hinder the experience over time.

Charming characters keep you pushing forward

As though the exceedingly pleasant gameplay loop wasn’t enough, The Last Clockwinder also comes boasting a thoroughly intriguing storyline to boot. Just what is the purpose of this elaborate clock tower? What happened to the previous clock winder? What is your relationship with this mysterious figure? Where does all this otherworldly technology come from? What are these contraptions actually trying to accomplish?

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These lingering thoughts keep you pushing forward. But given you never actually see the cast of characters in the flesh, it could have all fallen flat if not for some great vocal performances. From the protagonist to the supporting figures you interact with on occasion, each conversation feels authentic to the situation and their personalities shine through even with the lack of physical embodiment.

While it is a shortlived journey on this core path, clocking in at roughly the five-hour mark, it’s nonetheless a memorable trip you won’t regret taking. Besides, there’s still plenty of juice left to squeeze beyond that main storyline if you’re seeking truly perfect solutions on every floor.

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The Last Clockwinder gameplayPontoco
The Last Clockwinder will keep you guessing until the very end.

From start to finish The Last Clockwinder never ceases to impress with its unbridled creativity. Whether it’s the enchanting gameplay loop driving you toward ultimate optimization, or the clever layout of each and every floor demanding you think in new ways to resolve the issue, every step is a delight and when firing on all cylinders, it’s unlike any other VR experience.

The Verdict 4.5/5

It’s a can’t-miss puzzle game and one that every VR enthusiast should add to their list if not for the highlights we’ve mentioned, then purely to witness the power of the medium from developers making the most of their chosen hardware.

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