Adventure Game Hotspot


CLeM review

CLeM review
Laura Cress avatar image

Cute cartoon art style belies darker undertones of this short but satiating point-and-click metroidvania adventure

Like a 2D side-scrolling metroidvania but with puzzles rather than platforming, Mango Protocol’s CLeM draws you into its mysterious world, encouraging you to make your way through an old mansion by exploring its abandoned rooms and solving its secrets – and finding some dark surprises as you go. Some of those puzzles can be pretty testing or a little obscure, but if you're willing to persevere, CLeM's intriguing premise and beautiful hand-drawn art are worth the odd frustration.

In this standalone follow-up to the developer’s previous “Psychotic Adventures” (MechaNika, Agatha Knife), you play a mute rag doll who wakes up in the basement of the aforementioned manor with little memory of what's happened, accompanied by the disembodied voice of a young girl – so far, so creepy! The voice tells you to bring her something of “beauty” and there's a book of alchemy at your feet. Leaf through it and you'll see that “beauty” corresponds to an image of a butterfly – so a butterfly you must fetch from somewhere in the house, to appease your omniscient mistress.

It isn't a spoiler to say that each chapter – five in total – starts like this – waking up in the basement and being told to fetch a different abstract thing, e.g. “hope” or “strength,” which corresponds to a different type of insect. When you start the first chapter, many parts of the house you're exploring are blocked off, but as you solve puzzles and progress through the game, you'll gain access to more places – either through your voyeur friend opening areas up for you or through special powers you gain from spells or objects you find along the way.

At one stage you gain the ability to make yourself smaller, for example, so now you can fit through a hole in the floorboard and tunnel through to some locked rooms you couldn't reach before. It's a fun way to make one location, the mansion, still feel fresh and exciting after five chapters. Thankfully, halfway through the game you also unlock a teleportation power, which means there isn't too much backtracking once the areas you can visit start to add up.


Genre: Mystery
Presentation: 2D or 2.5D
Perspective: Third-Person
Graphic Style: Stylized
Gameplay: Puzzle, Quest
Control: Point-and-click
Game Length: Short (1-5 hours)
Difficulty: Medium

The puzzles are pretty varied and inventive; some you'll solve by picking up and using items that can also be combined and extracted in your inventory, others by using your unlocked powers, such as a special lens that uncovers secret writing. There are also logic puzzles, like moving different coloured wine bottles into a set pattern to unlock something. You have a journal that contains any clues and notes you've found – a helpful addition when some of the puzzles can’t be solved until a few chapters down the line.

Even more helpfully, long notes (of which there are a few) will highlight any clues written in bold so you can spot them easily. And if you're going in the wrong direction for a long time or clearly not doing the thing you need to do, the disembodied voice will speak, giving you a vague idea that you're not in the right place. Whilst these hints aren't really the most detailed, it shows that the team have given great thought to making things accessible to the player without spoiling anything outright.

I did find one or two puzzles particularly tricky, either because there wasn't much explanation provided or due to being time-sensitive. One mini-game that needs a bit more guidance is where you use a magic lockpick to fit the different chambers of a locked door to open it. There isn't any indication of where each chamber needs to click to in order to keep the door open. It's strange given the thought put into other areas of the game that a simple single line of instruction isn't included, but I managed to figure it out after a bit of messing around.

Another problem involving a lot of exact timing and the syncing of blinking lightbulbs to the flashing of a firefly had me reaching for a walkthrough. Still, the sheer variety of CLeM's puzzles and the fact that they don't all have to be completed in a linear order (each chapter will have several challenges to solve) helps prevent things from feeling too frustrating. One puzzle in which you have to try to hatch a beetle from an egg was particularly fun to play through and showcases the imaginative, playful style of the game.

You can't save manually during CLeM and I was concerned when I left a chapter halfway through, only to return to my ragdoll once again waking up in the basement, as if it hadn't saved since the beginning of the chapter. If this happens to you, don't panic – the game saves your progress – like picking up items / unlocking things – it just doesn't save the room you're in and starts you back in the basement again each time you return. There must be a technical reason for this but it is a little annoying, especially as I could only tell it had recorded my previous progress by checking my inventory to see if I still had the items I'd picked up earlier in the chapter.

The story itself, in contrast to the bright and sweet-looking hand-drawn artwork, has some dark twists and turns in it – think the Rusty Lake series of games more than anything too cartoony or childish. As you’re exploring an empty abandoned mansion filled with magic, the darker plot points still fit in well with the lighter look of the art style, and the game never veers into overt horror territory – there are creepy moments but nothing gory or anything that would give anyone a shock. There isn't much voice acting aside from our mistress occasionally directing us from afar, and the soundtrack runs fairly innocuously in the background, never interrupting your exploration but giving a mysterious edge to it.

Final Verdict

Other than some gripes about saving and the odd obscure puzzle, CLeM throws plenty of fun things at you as you uncover what's really going on in its old empty house. The ending isn’t a huge surprise once you get there, but it does wrap up everything pretty neatly. It should only take about 3-5 hours to get there, depending on how hard you find some of the more difficult puzzles, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in surprises – not least that a point-and-click metroidvania adventure is a great idea!

Hot take


Despite the occasional patience-testing puzzle, CLeM’s inventive gameplay and exploratory style make this quirky hand-drawn “Psychotic Adventure” worth a peek.


  • Clever metroidvania-style exploration system keeps progress through a single location feeling fresh
  • Puzzles are varied and imaginative
  • Beautiful hand-drawn world to explore


  • One or two obscure puzzle solutions might cause problems
  • Confusing save system

Laura played CLeM on PC using a review code provided by the game's publisher. 


Want to join the discussion? Leave a comment as guest, sign in or register.

Leave a comment