Truly comedic video games are few and far between these days. You've got some games that have you laughing thanks to their mechanics, like Octodad, Fall Guys, and Goat Simulator, but those are more slapstick focused and the humour wears off before too long. Then there's those with fantastic writing, but the actual game itself is a bit of a let-down; The Stanley Parable for example. Combining the two has been done before, in titles like Portal and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, but what sets those apart is triple-A production quality and a whole team behind them.
An unlikely combination of genres
Lair of the Clockwork God is a point-and-click adventure crossed with a platformer that could genuinely be one of the funniest games of all time. Ben and Dan are the two protagonists; the former is a stubborn chap who is set on solving everything through (il)logic, while Dan is the opposite, sprinting and jumping everywhere to progress through the platforming sections. Together, the two are the best of friends, and somehow have the solution to every hurdle they encounter in their journey to save the world.
At its core, Dan's platforming sections aren't anything special. You'll gradually unlock more abilities for him, such as sprinting and wall-bouncing, but there are a few brutal sections that certainly left me relieved once I made it through. Thankfully, checkpoints are plentiful and we're not quite talking Super Meat Boy levels of difficulty here, just parts that may take a few minutes to execute perfectly.
Classic point-and-click solutions
You'll be disappointed if you jump into Lair of the Clockwork God solely for the platforming because where this shines is in the Monkey Island-esque nonsensical solutions to the point-and-click puzzles, combined with the truly stellar writing. Well, I say stellar, others might say crude, but either way, it had me in stitches more times than I can count.
One example is shortly after the first tutorial chapter, when Dan learns the ability to pick Ben upon his shoulders. It's not as simple as that because Ben's bladder is full, so picking him up would mean he'd wee all over Dan (bladder control is a thing of the past, okay?). But Ben can't just urinate anywhere; it has to be in a toilet or on a grave, obviously. So Dan embarks through a platforming section in an apocalyptic London, in search of a toilet so Ben can take a leak. Go into Ben's inventory and use his bladder with the toilet… and he'll say "seems silly to piss on a door when the loo is, like, right there…". Yeah, it's that sort of game.
Ben and Dan are named after the two founders of Size Five Games — Ben Ward and Dan Marshall — and their British humour is evident in every single section of the game. Non-Brits playing the game may have a fair few jokes fly over their head, but for the most part, the dialogue often riffs on stereotypes and tongue-in-cheek jokes about current topics. Like the racist talking brain you stumble upon at one point who accuses Ben of being a "dirty foreigner" and prides itself in being smart because it reads the Daily Mail.
Then there are the fourth-wall breaks, which begin before you've even started the game, if you know what to look for. Even on the main menu, the "Size Five News" tab which is styled to look like patch notes, points out the inclusion of an in-game shop that sells "premium inventory items" to help you through the game's trickier puzzles. As you'll soon learn, however, there's a reason you seemingly can't access the shop from the beginning. There's also mention of a known bug — one that will irritate you throughout your playthrough — until all is explained later down the line.
Not just reliant on humour
There's plenty more to Lair of the Clockwork God as a whole, too. The narrative doesn't rely upon the humour by any means, since at the end of the day, Ben and Dan are on a quest to save the entire world and that comes with plenty of trials and tribulations that will make you feel a surprising connection to both characters. Especially when the two get separated and have to deal without the other's talents. If you play Devil's Kiss, the free visual novel prologue that comes bundled with the game, you'll understand more of their backstory too. There's also Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentlemen, Please! which are the first two titles the characters featured in, way back in 2008 and 2009.
I could write all day long about every single joke that cracked me up and how well-paced Lair of the Clockwork God is, but if I did that there'd be no point in you going to play this for yourself, and trust me when I say you seriously should. It would be a crying shame if this were the last we see of Ben and Dan, both as developers and fictional characters because this style of comedy is far too scarce in video games.