In a mysterious mansion where Clea and her younger brother must avoid the other-worldly Chaos Servants that have escaped from their parents’ laboratory, Clea‘s survival horror motif takes on a new approach involving the player to use their surroundings and relying on sound as much as sight. The creaky floorboards, the rusty door hinges, all set inside an eery Victorian mansion setting provides a survival horror experience that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Clea is a game all about strategic thought and careful consideration. Make your way through the multi-levelled mansion, avoiding the Chaos Servants, finding objects (or parts of objects to combine them) and escape with your life. As you continue to work your way downstairs, you’ll come across Toothless Keys, requiring you to find the remainder of the key to be able to unlock the door to proceed onwards. You’ll also find items along the way that repel Chaos Servants and heal Clea’s scars. These items are worth their weight in gold and can be the difference between life and death.
As you progress through each of the game’s levels, you’ll come across puzzles to solve in order to find your way out. The challenge comes from having to decipher these puzzles whilst simultaneously avoiding the Chaos Servants. It’s all well and good but when your attempt to solve the puzzle is incorrect and Clea’s slow movement requires a lot of backtracking, it results in a lot of boredom and frustration.
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If I’m to give any tip whatsoever, it is to check behind EVERY door! You can do this by pressing the B button and there were multiple times where I forgot to do this and a Chaos Servant was either right there or instantly in view of me. Not only do you die, but it’s so terrifying!
With the Switch version of Clea, it’s complete lack of HD Rumble (or any rumble, for that matter) is such a missed opportunity. Just like with the sound design (which I’ll get to soon), having the rumble subtly reveal to you what is coming (or not coming) would have made it all the more creepy. However, its touchscreen implementation in the menus and inventory is a nice touch.
World / Level Design
Each section of the mansion is quite simple, to the point of being lacklustre. As the game relies heavily on sound to dictate oncoming Chaos Servants across a 2D plane, the level design doesn’t do anything particularly special. If anything, it makes you feel as though you have less manoeuvrability which in hindsight, may well be what InvertMouse were going for, but with simply the options to run left and right, use items and hide in broom closets, it’s all a bit underwhelming.
Story / Personality
The plot progresses through notes left on walls and diary entries from various occupants of the house. Despite how jarring this game can feel at the best of times, the natural story progression helps to make the mansion feel more alive whilst providing context to the creepy horror. Organic storytelling is always ideal as it can feel forced and artificial otherwise – full marks, InvertMouse!
Graphics / Art Direction
Clea looks like a web-based flash game and yet, I don’t say this as a negative. Whilst it may initially come across as nothing special, the eeriness is magnified by its simplicity. The walls and floor also provide some depth to the room which is sorely needed as this may well be the most empty mansion in fictional history.
Music / Sound Design
From the very beginning, the game encourages you to wear headphones. Clea‘s use of sound is remarkable as it tells you whether there is a Chaos Servant (or other) on the same floor as you. It also tells you whether they’ve walked into another room or left the floor of the mansion, which is crucial to your survival.
The sound effects are absolutely top notch, with a great attention to detail when it comes to the creaking of the floorboards, the footsteps coming from left or right to indicate the Chaos Servants’ whereabouts (which is why wearing headphones are ideal) and the snarl that cues when you get captured. It’s bone chilling and I love it!
Final Score: 68%
It may be a little rough around the edges, but Clea hits the mark on the creepiness wonderfully. After fastening headphones around your ears, shutting off all the lights and cueing flashes of lightning from outside coming in between your curtain blinds, Clea will surely raise every hair on your arm. Happy Halloween!
Thank you for checking out our Clea Switch review, thank you to PR Hound for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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