Review: Trial of The Clone / Author: Zach Weinersmith / Publisher: Tin Man Games / Release Date: Out Now
The adventure game book and phone app Trial of the Clone began life as a Kickstarter campaign by satirical web cartoonist Zach Weinersmith. He’s better known as Zach Weiner, and produces the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal website, which is filled with irreverent nerd humour, science jokes, highbrow references and a gloriously cynical yet silly view of the world.
Trial of the Clone is very much more of the same; more a string of jokes held together by a very thin plot, rather than the sort of non-linear story we would expect. The plot, such as it is, revolves around a clone who has been raised by superpowered space monks, and his quest to overthrow the Empire. Or join it. It’s entirely up to you really, this is an multiple path story, after all. It’s mostly a very obvious parody of the clichés one finds in popular science fiction. We get sly pokes at things such as Firefly, Star Trek and Star Wars. As you’ve probably gathered from the title, it’s mostly laughing at Star Wars, and this it does very well.
The result is quite funny, though it takes the lay-on-the-gags-thick approach popular with a lot of American humour. If you don’t laugh at the first nine jokes, there’s every chance you’ll find the tenth a real rib-tickler. Games wise, the phone app version is of the extremely high quality we’ve come to expect from Tinman Games. It has an inventory and bookmarking system, let’s the player cheat if they really must and has a nifty little sound effect for every time you’d roll dice. (This can be turned off). It also has an ‘audio book’ function; the entire thing has been recorded as an audio by none other than nerd-god Will Wheaton, which means that if you’re too tired to read you can get Wesley Crusher to do the hard work for you. Will has good comic timing, so the audio really works. The only problem is that the audio files are stored on the cloud, so you need web access to run this feature. This isn’t that much of a problem, as the app is designed for iPhone and Android, but can lead to an annoying delay at times.
Overall, this is a nice bit of fun. It’s meant to be funny, and if you’re easily offended you should stay away; Weinersmith grabs his jokes from as many different places as possible, and this includes toilet humour and blasphemy. Our personal high points are when the author breaks the fourth wall and insults the reader directly; it’s always good a laugh. Don’t expect a challenging gaming experience or anything beyond nerdy fun; this is an entertaining romp, not an adventure game book classic.