Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time Review

By Jeffrey Matulef - Posted Feb 04, 2011

Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time is a great premise terribly realized. Assembling your own vehicles is a captivating idea, but its awful controls, physics, and interface make doing so a chore. A nice proof of concept, but hardly a worthwhile game.

The Pros
  • Great concept
  • Forgiving time mechanic
  • Cute aesthetic
The Cons
  • Terrible interface
  • Wonky physics
  • Cumbersome Controls

Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time Review:

With a name like Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time one would expect a lot of time-bending puzzles, but that would be a misnomer. Doc Clock is more Chitty Chitty Bang Bang than Back to the Future, with a focus on concocting your own ludicrous methods of transport. Unfortunately, poor controls, a messy interface, and slippery physics make this puzzle/platformer a failed science experiment.

Doc Clock

If I Could Turn Back Time...

It starts off promisingly with Doc trying to create the perfect toaster. His experiment ends in failure, however, when it turns his cat into a cactus/feline hybrid. In an effort to rectify the error he decides to build a time machine to go back to the previous day and stop himself from making this mistake. This backfires when he's thrust hundreds of years into the future where robots reign supreme. Since his time machine has exploded, he must find its missing parts to go back to his own time.

Gameplay is a puzzle/platformer where Doc uses a robot arm (ala Doc Ock) to combine objects in the environment to aid him on his quest. It starts off simple with creating makeshift ramps and stairs, but quickly shifts focus to building vehicles.

The concept of cobbling together various objects to craft your own vehicle is immediately appealing. Before you know it you'll be on a bathtub with two wheels, a sofa, an umbrella, and a propeller emanating from it. Certain items give your vessel special abilities like a spring that can be used to hop or propellers that pull you in whatever direction they're pointed. There's a real sense of pride that comes from its DIY vehicle design.

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I think We're Gonna Need a Longer Arm

It's a shame then that none of this is much fun. Dreadful controls and an unintuitive interface make building far more cumbersome than it needs to be. Your mechanical arm has a short reach so you must be standing near an object to move it. Highlighted items can't be dragged over objects, so if you assemble a craft then realize you wanted another part on the other side of it, you'll have to dismantle the entire thing in order to fetch it. Merely grabbing an item and placing it where you want is an incredibly clumsy process that must be repeated over and over again.

Making matters worse, objects won't stay attached when moved. When your vehicle tips over you can't reposition the whole thing and must instead reassemble it piece by piece. While there is an option to set it upright, it often won't work as the ill-shaped apparatus often snags against the scenery.

Due to wonky physics, this is an extremely frequent occurrence. It only takes one slight incline to tip your vessel on its back. The physics are so unnatural that I couldn't tell the difference between using a refrigerator or a couch in my contraption.

Doc Clock

These issues are alleviated somewhat by the ability to rewind time. This is done by adjusting a slider that presents your playthrough like a youtube video. As intriguing a concept as time manipulation is, it's never used for anything beyond making checkpoints more generous. It's a very useful addition, but doesn't mask the fact that many of your failures are due to physics and control issues.

Buried beneath its control quirks, Doc Clock has some personality. The bright, cartoony art style is attractive and the silly writing can be funny. The Doc's beaker/inventory is sentient and we're treated to its thoughts which are all about how much it hates the good doctor. The longer you take the more it insults you, and you're even rated on number of insults received at the end of each stage.

Doc Clock

The Sinner's Sandwich

Doc Clock is a wonderful idea, but its execution is a nightmare. There's definitely a lot of potential here and if a sequel could refine its controls, interface, and physics it could be a hoot. As is, Doc Clock feels unfinished. It's still got a rough charm, but only those with the patience of a saint need apply.