Claybook is a building and puzzle game where you play with Play Doh of different shapes and sizes to solve puzzles and progress through the levels. It is developed by indie developer Second Order and is available now as a full release after several months in early access. You can read my early access review here.
I could in all honesty have copied and pasted that early access review for the full release as all of my criticisms still stand. I’ll get into all of that but basically Claybook is a great idea for young children who love Play Doh will have fun with this game. Maybe with their parents playing it with them as I have been doing with my 9 year old Play Doh loving daughter. Just as a side note I’ve said Play Doh a lot but this is not a licensed game or anything just to be clear. I just used Play Doh so it is clear what I’m talking about.
Graphically Claybook looks great. It is bright, colourful and very appealing to look at, especially for younger gamers. Levels and the objects and structures within them look great. Levels are played out on a young boy’s bedroom table. With the boy controlling the doh with a joystick that looks uncannily like a Speedlink Competition Pro which will give a lot of older gamers nostalgic chills.
The doh gets bigger as you’re rolling around consuming more doh and the different colours of doh blend realistically on it. Some levels involve making a ditch for liquid to pour down into a container and the physics here all work very well and look realistic.
Gameplay & Controls
This is where Claybook stumbles quite a lot. The controls are very finicky. They have a floatiness to them that feels off. When I was rolling doh around I’d often roll past the thing I was heading for. It just isn’t as tight as it could be. My daughter, who is 9 and not a regular gamer, had a tough time with it. Also consuming walls to let liquid out and digging up the ground a bit to make a ditch for the liquid to pour down it was very easy to dig too much. Ending up with the water stuck in a hole which meant a complete restart of the level was necessary.
There’s levels in Claybook where you have to race around an obstacle course against the clock. The fiddly controls meant falling off regularly which again required restarting the level. It just felt too cumbersome to be satisfying.
There is also a level editor in Claybook. Both me and my daughter found it very hard to understand. We didn’t have a clue how to use the various editing tools. We managed to place a few objects in the world but it took far too long and was far too cumbersome again to be fun. Now, I am not usually one for creating my own levels in games that allow for user created content. You may well have much more patience for it than I did. But for me it should be simple, quick and fun for young kids to do. And it isn’t in my opinion.
Claybook is a great idea but the execution isn’t where it needs to be. The game looks great and I love the premise of it but the controls are far too floaty and cumbersome that it frustrated us playing it that sapped all the fun out of it. The level editor is confusing, difficult to use and just not fun at all. Perhaps the more patient amongst you might spend more time with it and learn how to create with it.
I criticised the game game for the same reasons during early access and they haven’t really been addressed here. The game doesn’t feel any different at all really. It is a shame and possibly things that can be addressed with patches but as it stands it ruins the fun of Claybook so I can’t really recommend the game to anyone.
Publisher: Second Order
Developer: Second Order
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4 & PC
Release Date: Out Now