March 25, 2021
Releasing as a follow-up to 2019’s striking horror debut is Clea 2. The game follows Florine, a former maid, 4 years after the events of the first game. Clea, the main character from the first game, is gone. The tragedy of the Whitlock Mansion is behind Florine… for now. With a past full of chaos, she travels to the fourth dimension and beyond, all to resurrect her most beloved person. Who that is, we do not know. She meets a new cast of characters along the way, as well as some from her past. But the story surprisingly isn’t where Clea 2’s strong points lie.
Whilst the game’s story may make little sense unless you’ve experienced the original, it’s still perfectly playable. After all, it’s the gameplay that feels like the main focus here. Even if you are new to this series, you still have chances to find out some details about the characters, or even monsters, that you encounter. Journals are scattered through the levels, written by those who have previously travelled the same path. These serve as good opportunities for players to read should they want to understand the world more.
Even if the story of Clea 2 is a little foggy to begin with, it’s the gameplay that keeps you engaged. I even ended up finding it kind of fun trying to figure out what the hell was going on, despite spending most of my time hiding in closets. That’s the horror game genre for you though – if you can’t attack, hiding your head in the sand is the next best option!
The Clea games, made by Aussie developer InvertMouse, pride themselves on being jumpscare free whilst still able to create a good horror atmosphere. The developers have worked hard on Clea 2 and it definitely shows as a game made more for the fans of the original than for newcomers. With that said, you can still find plenty of enjoyment in Clea 2, regardless of if you’ve played the first or not. The basic playstyle premise is similar to Clocktower and many horror games alike; stay quiet, survive and complete your objective.
You must make use of closets and sound distractions to move your way through each section of the game. Enemies like Chaos Servants and even old friends roam the 2D hallways, ready to kill at any moment. To avoid them, Florine must make as little noise as possible, and wow is that hard with your big ol’ clunky shoes! So you must walk and sneak as you make your way through each area, making sure to only run when you really need it.
Clea 2 doesn’t rely on jumpscares to give its players the chills, instead it uses its slow pace to set the mood. The visual style is a little too cute to ever come across as truly horrifying, although the real fear comes from getting caught by one of the various monstrosities who’re after your blood. Clea 2 describes itself as a skill-based game, and what better way to test your skills than by giving you limited chances to save your game? Now I’ve really got goosebumps!
The only way to save your progress in Clea 2 is by finding Arcane Candles to use at save points. These candles are very hard to come by. It’s important that you try your best not to die in the meantime, otherwise you’ve got to start over again from where you last saved. If you’re unlucky, that could be from the very beginning of the game.
To add to the difficulty of having to sneak around everywhere, you have puzzles to solve at the same time. These puzzles are imperative to clearing the level and moving on to the next one. Each area can be as simple as flipping some switches in the right order, or it can be substantially more difficult. Once you’ve cleared a puzzle, you’re rewarded with a ranking screen to see how fast and skillfully you made it through, as well as a story cutscene.
For those who are a little bit anxious about the prospect of limited saves, there are several difficulties you can choose from. Playing on ‘Light’ lets you save as much as you would like, although you won’t get any significant rankings. Next are ‘Dark’, ‘Chaos’ and ‘Chaos+’. Each of these increases the difficulty, but also rewards you with costumes you can unlock. Although that’s only if you can meet the requirements.
One unfortunate thing I have noticed about the game is its poor proximity sound design. Enemies will make sounds as they move around the level. You’re supposed to be able to hear where the enemies are roaming, and how close they are to you. However, what direction or door these enemies are coming through seems all over the place. At one point I thought I had it figured out, yet the next moment I was walking headfirst into an enemy who sounded like they were at the end of the next hallway. This taught me to never trust the sound cues, and instead I would peek behind every door I came across just to make sure. Because the one thing I did not want was to die and have to re-do everything I’d just done.
The sound design in Clea 2 may not be all that crash hot, but the art design certainly is. Effort was put into making this game look visually pleasing in its unique style. The characters are cute, their personalities individual, and the 2D world around them stimulating. The puzzle quality is also adequately infuriating, which when talking about puzzles is a good thing.
Solving the mysteries in the game and making it to the end is a great accomplishment, yet the fun doesn’t stop there. If you’ve enjoyed testing your mettle against the game’s challenges, you’ll be pleased to know there’s more. Along with multiple endings, Clea 2 also has greater difficulties to play in, as previously mentioned. Chaos and Chaos+ bring greater challenges to this already challenging game. They even have different outfits to unlock if the original maid outfit is beginning to look a little stale. So there are plenty of reasons to keep stepping back into the Chaos of Clea 2.
- Challenging puzzles
- Lovely art
- Great replayability
- Proximity sound design needs improvement
- Unclear storyline
Overall, Clea 2 ended up being an enjoyable experience. Once you get used to the game’s mechanics, the less-than-perfect proximity sound is no longer such a big issue. After you’re past that point, the rest of the game becomes a fun challenge to complete. It’s definitely a game for those who love skill-based survival experiences. No matter your skill level though, Clea 2 has options to suit you. Just keep in mind that a game doesn’t need to be perfect in order to be fun!