Welcome Time Wasters!
My time wasting this week is what some might call a more proper PC game. Well, maybe not entirely proper, but it isn’t a browser game is what I’m getting at. This game is Clinically Dead.
Clinically Dead is a puzzle-driven game all about what happens at the end of a person’s life. It puts the player in control of a dying protagonist at a hospital. He dies and the player is drawn into his mind. His goal is to recover the last 30 seconds of time his brain is active after his clinical death. This can grant him the ability to die peacefully, but it may do something else as well.
Honestly, the story of Clinically Dead sounds interesting, but is really hard to take seriously. The game is obviously not a project from native English speaking developers. It’s also clear that the game didn’t have a proper translation. Instead, it looks like the creator just put the game through Google translate and called it good. That kind of sucks, because it takes away from what seems to be an interesting concept, but that becomes more difficult to really understand because of the translation.
The gameplay in Clinically Dead is also a bit rough. The whole game is in first person and controls are a bit janky. That’s not to say that they don’t work, but there was never a point where I was trusting of them. I could be wrong, but this game very much feels like it uses the Source engine. There’s nothing wrong with this, but there does need to be some additional polish in this case.
What good I can say about Clinically Dead comes from its main focus: puzzles. The game uses an interesting concept of time travel to have the player solve various puzzles. This includes the simple fast forwarding and rewinding of time. However, there are also other concepts. This includes a color time wave range. The player can move into the different colors of the range to cause objects around them to enter different periods of time. It’s kind of hard to understand, but think of it as being like a weather map with the different colors representing different times instead of temperatures.
So what about the actual puzzles in Clinically Dead? Well, to my honest surprise, they are quite good. There were plenty of puzzles that gave me a good challenge, as well as a couple that stumped me for quite a while. Part of that is the lack of explaining in Clinically Dead. I’m all for games not holding the player’s hand, but this one takes it a bit further by not explaining some important elements of its system. Add to the strange concepts behind time travel in the game and this can make it all a bit confusing for players.
The graphics in Clinically Dead are nothing to write home about. I’m not a graphics snob by any means, and even I felt they weren’t close to acceptable. This isn’t just talking about the poor quality of the graphics, but also some issues with the screen freezing up, but never quite crashing. At least it’s full of vibrant colors to keep it from looking too dull.
The audio in Clinically Dead is probably the worst offender in the entire game. Remember that poor translation I talked about earlier? All dialogue in the game is actually spoken. That means all those wonderful mistakes are front and center when the game is giving vague hints or dropping exposition. To make matters worse, all of the voices are just text-to-speech programs reading the lines with different filters over them. It’s funny at first, but hurts the experience of the game after the charm wears off.
Overall, Clinically Dead is a strange game to score. On one hand, it has great core gameplay and incredibly interesting puzzles and concepts. Then the other hand contains a load of bad graphics, audio, controls and a more than poor translation. Even with all that said, I can’t deny liking the game and I’m not against recommending it to puzzle fans, but maybe not at the full price of $12.
Clinically Dead earns 3 GiN Gems out of 5!