Review: Wearing the Claw

(A breath of parser in between Spring Thing clicketies.
This game did some new stuff with the score system that impressed people in the late nineties but is completely irrelevant now. Without that sense of newness, it’s just a dime-a-dozen adventure.
Wearing the Claw - Details (ifdb.org))

(Dis-) Illusions

This game was a lot better when I played it ten years ago. Or is it I who have come to expect better?

Wearing the Claw is a very traditional fantasy adventure. It’s played completely straight. No tongue in cheek, no subtle (or blatant) irony.

I really like traditional fantasy played straight. A lot.

After “The Testing”, you are chosen as the worthy young man to find the Pendant of MacGuffin, ahem, Elinor, to lift the curse beset upon your village by an evil wizard. You are to gain entry to the Fortress where it is held and bring it back. No objections from me here. More than half the fantasy stories and games I know start off like this.

But then the game falls short on many points.

Apart from a longish text dump-introduction and a similarly long epilogue, the actual story is hurried. There’s not enough attention to tempo to let the player sink into the story or the character. Everything seems to happen one thing after another at the same just-a-bit-too-fast pace.

The view of the magical island across the sea raised expectations that weren’t fulfilled. After a literally linear path (one east-west dusty road) I had hoped for the map to open up and become more complex upon entering the fortress. Instead I found one north-south path.

The first puzzle sets a good theme. It’s about deception, and one hopes that this will be explored more fully in the rest of the game. The other puzzles do indeed repeat the theme, but they do not widen or deepen it. They’re similar variations on the theme without becoming more difficult or complicated. As such, they also do not become more rewarding, rather the opposite.

The story itself has the same problem. If only it had broadened in scope to weigh some of the personal or moral implications of deception… Perhaps by adding alternative ways to overcome the obstacles…
Maybe your character could also have become a more three-dimensional person then.

But these are "if"s and "maybe"s that cannot be changed.

The game as it is still has its good qualities. It’s competently written. It has a ton of optional responses to unnecessary actions. You can greatly add to the fun in this game by trying many things that are outside of the main quest.
There is a magical gadget that changes the way you view the world, so there’s some fun in re-exploring there.

All in all, this is a fine, uncomplicated adventure. It’s just that it seems to promise so much more…

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From reading your review, I discovered that I had bizarrely conflated the concept of this game, Wearing The Claw (that I’d heard of but not played) with a schtick from the Jim Carrey film Liar Liar, where he’s a father who happens to play a game with his kid in which he pretends to be possessed by The Claw, and chases the kid around in humourous fashion.

So for years I’ve been aware of Wearing The Claw, but thought it was about a parent pretending to put on The Claw to entertain a child. I only realise this because (a) I watched Liar Liar again last month after not having seen it since it was on at the movies in the 1990s, then (b) I read this review.

So. Thanks for setting me straight?!

-Wade

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Yes. Yes!

I was planning to start my review with a reference to “The Claw…The Claaaaw!” before realising that scene may not be the first image in people’s minds when they hear the word “claw”. Also, it’s hard to capture Carrey’s facial expressions in words…

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