I’ve never really been into games that are all about gathering resources through automation, but there’s something about The Last Clockwinder that REALLY worked for me. Maybe it’s the emotional narrative, maybe it’s the rewarding gameplay loop, or maybe it’s the immersion of virtual reality? Either way, I had a really fun time with the game – and, despite a few criticisms, it’s one of my favourites that I’ve played on the Meta Quest 2.

Check out some screenshots down below:

The Last Clockwinder sees players returning to a clocktower that’s built within an ancient tree, with the water pump within it failing and requiring repair in order to keep it from falling into disarray. This means using a pair of special gloves that allows the user to perform tasks and have peculiar robots then replicate them, in turn setting up an automated system that’ll see them performing each and every action the user does in order to get a smooth system in place.

I’ve really simplified the tale behind the game there, because The Last Clockwinder is actually a pretty narrative-heavy experience. Between recordings you find, radio calls, and your own thoughts and memories, there’s a lot to learn throughout your adventure repairing the clocktower. Don’t get me wrong, I’d hardly call it a cinematic experience, but it doesn’t stop the story from playing a big role in the game and giving players a thoughtful and emotional undertone to their journey.

Maybe calling it a journey is a stretch, because The Last Clockwinder is actually a pretty isolated experience. Everything takes place within a room in the tree, with this room then shifting and replacing itself to bring each of the different tasks you have to complete. Think of it as an elevator, except instead of stepping directly onto each floor, The Last Clockwinder brings them directly to you.

“Figuring out the most efficient way to handle each scenario you find yourself in is incredibly rewarding, whilst having to initially perform each action yourself ensures you’re always the biggest cog in the contraption.”

Each of these floors brings an intricate and enjoyable puzzle to solve, with the game revolving around the farming of fruit. This means you’ll have to grab the fruit, get it to the processing bin, and then harvest it, with your in-game counter then increasing to unlock further levels to progress through the game. Of course, it’d be boring (and even impossible at times) to complete these actions by your own and that’s where those aforementioned gloves come in. Rather than performing each action yourself each time, you’ll record yourself doing it once and then have a robot duplicate it.

For example, in the first level of the game, I had a robot picking the fruit, then throwing it to another robot, which would then throw it directly into the processing bin where, you guessed it, another robot would pull the lever to harvest the fruit. I had to perform each of those actions myself at first, but after doing so, my robots did all of the work for me. It’s not the BEST way to do it (and the game will note how efficient you’re being through both the amount of fruit you can harvest in a minute and by how many robots you need to do it), but it made it easy for me to learn how the game works and to get the ball rolling.

Of course, things get more complex than simply grabbing and throwing fruit, with varying fruit types bringing with them different attributes that have to be handled differently. A particular favourite of mine was the fruit that exploded if you held it too long, meaning I had to set up a clever chain of robots that’d throw it around the room carefully before I was able to harvest it… it was a task that was more stressful than it sounds, especially when you’re trying to work towards maximum efficiency. Then there’s things like having to use a knife to cut the fruit (and then sharing it with the other robots), sling-shotting fruit across the room, or having robots perform multiple actions at once, just to name a few of the quirky tasks you have to complete – The Last Clockwinder introduces plenty of new and creative ideas within its gameplay loop to keep the experience fresh and the player on their toes.

Check out some screenshots down below:

I’m probably not giving the game the credit it deserves with my words, because believe me, The Last Clockwinder is a whole lot of fun and very clever in design. Figuring out the most efficient way to handle each scenario you find yourself in is incredibly rewarding, whilst having to initially perform each action yourself ensures you’re always the biggest cog in the contraption. You might have robots doing the work for you, but they’re doing EXACTLY what you’ve directed them to. It’s really satisfying, but also takes a fair bit of patience, wits, and dexterity to nail each action down perfectly. When you get it right, though? You’re guaranteed to have a big smile on your face.

It’s just a really rewarding experience, with the intricate puzzle-like nature of each room offering plenty of different ways to approach them. Do you take it easy and set up a simple route in order to gather fruit at a slower but safer pace? Or do you make it as intricate as possible in order to maximise efficiency? The Last Clockwinder allows you to approach the game exactly as you want to, whether that’s by making it a complex puzzler where you have to do everything perfectly or a more casual brainteaser where you just set up an easy-going system that works for you.

It all comes together to make for a finely crafted puzzler that could only really work in virtual reality. However, it does have some minor issues that prevent it from striving towards puzzling-perfection. For one, the environmental design is very limited in the game, especially since you stick to the one room. Whilst things do change around a little when you summon different floors and the design itself is charming, there wasn’t enough going on locale-wise to keep things feeling visually interesting. The lack of smooth movement was disappointing too, with teleportation the only option – it’s more comfortable, sure, but it would have made it easier to fine-tune my position when performing actions or simply immerse myself in the world more. The developer has noted that smooth locomotion will be coming to the game, but there’s no confirmation as to when that will be.

Besides those issues? I really, REALLY enjoyed my time with The Last Clockwinder. It’ll only take players around four hours or so to beat, but those hours will certainly be memorable.

The Last Clockwinder Review

The Last Clockwinder is a wonderful virtual reality puzzler that demands clever-thinking and careful planning as you restore the ancient tree to its former glory. There’s something incredibly satisfying about its gameplay loop of performing actions and then having robots replicate them, whilst nailing the execution perfectly to maximise efficiency ALWAYS brought a smile to my face. The game is intuitive enough to cater to both casual and veteran puzzling fans, but nothing beats setting up the perfect automation.

It does have a few issues, with a lack of environmental variety and the restrictive teleportation controls being the biggest offenders, but they don’t stop The Last Clockwinder from being a really fun virtual reality experience that I’d thoroughly recommend. It’s clever, it’s charming, and it’s easily one of my favourite games on the Meta Quest 2.

Developer: Pontoco
Publisher: Cyan Ventures
Platform(s): Meta Quest 2 (Reviewed), PC VR
Website: https://pontoco.com/