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Clockwords: Prelude

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Rating: 4.4/5 (153 votes)
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DoraClockwordsHelp! The laboratory is under attack, and mechanical spiders have arrived to carry off the blueprints! What do you mean I'm not making sense? You're not making sense! How do you expect to use your vocabulary to power this canon to fend them all off if you keep spouting gibberish like, "There's no such thing as clockwork spiders", and "What are you doing in my house?" Your weapon of choice is language in this odd little typing-defense hybrid from Gabob called Clockwords. So stop gaping and start yapping, since this is one time when having nothing to say is dangerous instead of just painfully awkward.

Best of Casual Gameplay 2009That's right. Having recently acquired a machine that runs on language, you'll have to rely on your brain as you think up words to use as ammunition. Type a word, any word, and hit [enter], and the cannon on screen will fire the letters in it one by one at the approaching arachnids, dealing damage according to the letters you used. You can aim the cannon manually with the mouse, or let it fire at the closest enemy. Don't hesitate, since you can type in word after word, before the last one has been used up, to build up a warm, wordy welcome for the thieves. In tanks on the screen you'll find special letters that, if included in your word, will deal a damage bonus. Use them all, and you'll unlock additional letters that can further strengthen your arsenal. But watch out, since if the spiders make it to the bottom of the screen and steal all your secrets, your future as the brightest inventor in London will be cut short.

Between levels (of which there are many) you can pay a visit to the boiler room, where you can add any new letters you discover to your bonus tanks, or transmute the ones you have using your formulas to uncover new, deadly combinations. While the game offers you special letters than can be purchased with Mochi Coins, they are by no means necessary to finish the game. Nor should you feel handicapped without them, since you can actually create them on your own by transmuting two high-level letters together. Finally, a use for all the mysterious, glowing green liquid I have lying around the house!

ClockwordsAnalysis: The problem here is that the difficulty level can't really stand alongside the strong design, and some players may not find it much of a challenge. You probably won't have much trouble staying ahead of the swarms if you keep your words fairly long and frequent. Since the letters in the tanks only grant additional bonuses and aren't actually a requirement, you can reduce your attackers to quivering bits of springs and sprockets just by rapping out whatever pops into your head. (Of course, feeling smug if you manage to use all eight random letters in a word is perfectly acceptable.) Reusing words in a level will reduce the damage they deal, but with so few restrictions this is rarely a problem.

Since you're essentially free as a bird here, you'll be happy to know that Clockwords actually possesses a very capable vocabulary. Every word I dropped in from the mundane ("pants") to the lengthy ("lugubrious") was accepted, which leaves you free to abandon yourself to stream-of-consciousness style casual gameplay rather than plotting out your every move. In fact, if you're a fine, sterling example of northern breeding like yours truly (that is to say, Canadian or from across the pond) you'll also be happy to know that Clockwords doesn't discriminate against that extra "u" and accepts "neighbours" as readily as "neighbors".

While the relatively sedate pace and difficulty could wind up leaving you feel as though you're competing against yourself for a high score rather than the clock, there's something addictive about Clockwords that will appeal not only to those of us who got beaten up after school for reminding the teacher about a homework assignment, but anyone who simply appreciates a good design. So what are you waiting for? Free your mind! Your fellow word nerd salutes you.

Play Clockwords


For some strange reason this game does not work on my PC. Only thing I can enjoy is music. And what music! It is absolutely wonderful. Can anyone find who created music for this game?


I love playing a game in which someone who pays money will always be better at the game, regardless of skill level >_>. other than that great game. really unique idea with great design and art.


I'm so in love with this game. Having the ability to type any word and do damage is awesome. Kinda like Scribblenauts, but steampunk.


I'll throw in another vote for "being able to use any word you like is awesome". I'm not usually a fan of word games like this, but the freedom to say whatever you want makes it completely different from the other ones.

I also love how the music gets progressively more dramatic as you get closer to losing.


As I was reading the review, I came across something that bothered me slightly: "create them on your own 'my' transmuting". Shouldn't that say 'by'?


BTW: What are you doing in my house, Dora?


Capable vocabulary? I found common words that it didn't accept frequently, and its acceptance of certain types of words was weird. For instance, it liked French, but not Spanish, and it liked Pluto, but not Saturn.


My main problem with the dictionary is it doesn't support Latin/Greek terms. That'll teach me to read science stuff!


Somehow a bug left me with 0 letters in the "tank", and because of my Mochigames account, it's persistent and can't be fixed by refreshing or even deleting all cookies. That completely breaks the game; when it tries to load a level I just get a black screen.


Oops, my bad, it's called the Broiler not the tank.

The problem started when I tried to use mochigames to get the two free special letters. They showed up, but the broiler was empty.

At this point, I've closed my mochigames account (all I ever used it for was to claim free items), deleted all cookies and disabled further cookies, deleted everything on my hard drive with the word "mochi" in the title, and eventually switched to a new browser, and am playing the game from a different host. Clockworks still has 0 letters in the broiler, and it has the two free letters. What the hell is going on?


Anyone else having problems buying letters? When I click the button, nothing happens. Did I miss something?

A lot of fun, though. At first, I thought, "Just type anything? How is that a challenge?" I learned, though. Oh, I learned.


Stephen: There's no reason you should have to go through all of that. I've sent a note on to the developer, hopefully he will have an answer for you soon.

In the meantime, Flash save data are not stored in cookies. You'll need to access the Settings Manager to remove any saved data by domain:


The data being stored for the Clockworks game on JIG is coming from clockwords.fizzlebot.com


There could be a good game that comes out of this... the production values are great, the ability to manage and transform your letter pool is interesting. But the game mechanic of being able to type any word simply doesn't work. You can win every level by simply typing the exact same list of long words. The game needs to really center around using the letters in the chambers, clearing difficult letters so you can form longer words using all the letters, thereby putting more letters in the chamber. There's real challenge in that... but the challenge is meaningless if you can always fall back into typing random words.


Alright, that worked! Thank you so very much!

I've been playing clockwords like crazy. It's a great game! It's really made me realize how often I rely on spellcheck to catch my mistakes. My only gripe is that I wish the typing field would clear after a typo.

I... I think I want to say more, but my grasp of language has been kind of shaken by all this.


Misterpo Tatohead: I find the fun in this game comes from trying to think of as many different words as possible. Typing the same words is boring. :)

Don't be sad because the game doesn't challenge you! Challenge yourself!


Misterpo Tatohead: How many levels have you played? Midway through the game, you pretty much have to use high-powered letters from your queue to stay alive.


Mh, I stopped playing around level 13, because it began to annoy me that I almost lost because I had a streak of perfectly valid words which were not in the dictionary of the game, which grew quite annoying. Overall, the dictionary feels strange.. there are really obscure words in there I never even knew and yet, it rejects perfectly valid, everyday words.


Pretty fun, but I just came here to say that this has the BEST music I've heard in a LONG time. I have the game paused with the music in the background right now.


I meant music in Flash games specifically. It's not the best I've heard PERIOD in a while. Just to clarify. ;D


I agree with Tetha. The in game dictionary has some odd gaps. Judgement, for instance, is acceptable, but judgemental isn't? Or wasn't when I played at least.


My issue with the game has to do with the firing mechanic and the way the enemies approach. You have to type like mad at the very beginning to get everything, in particular the small ones. Because if they get to the bottom and start heading back, you'll pretty much never catch them, since the cannon will strike only the things in the bottom row, even when it's aiming for the above ones. And given that if one of the papers is dropped it's picked back up by the next spider, it's kind of a pointless pursuit. I can be tossing off eight dollar words left and right, but I'm not going to be getting any closer to preventing a loss.

Given how rapidly things cross your line of fire, I doubt manual control would help much, either. Certainly it's unfeasible to do it with one person.

I'm fine with games that make you frantically catch up if you get behind, but ones that seemingly inadvertently massively ramp up the difficulty due to a quirk in the mechanic seem a bit less than perfectly thought out. I'm not opposed to the difficulty per se, just that it feels less than even-handed.

That, and the nag-ads and mochi-cash stuff are annoying. Got to make money somewhere, yes, but I'm a casual gamer, not a WoW player. For a reason.

But otherwise, great game. Engaging, and kind of makes you feel mildly intelligent, even if it is probably just cheap gratification.


Xixen: Sorry, but it's actually spelled judgmental. Only one e.

But I think the dictionary does have some deficiencies, at least in new, slangy language. I keep trying to put in words like "munted" or "netizen" before I realise there's no way that those are in this dictionary. :)


Fun at the start, then gets repetitive. Sure, you can challenge yourself to spell different words, but the fact that you get your letters recycled makes it too easy to fall into a semi-repetitive pattern for each new level. Also, as pointed out, will favour the player who decides they want to buy letters.

Nothing wrong with making a bit of profit. But, bottom line, this game doesn't excite me enough to want to pay out money for it.


The concept is brilliant, the music is excellent, the presentation is great (including opening cutscenes, interactive-comic-book-style, which remind me strongly of the Penny Arcade Adventures games) and the in-game graphics are pretty decent too. This game deserves to be an amazing and challenging experience, but right now it's just a totally nifty diversion.

I agree with other commenters that it is to easy to win by just typing any long words that pop into your head, in the earlier levels at least. But for words nerds like myself, it is still *obnoxiously* fun to do.

I think this could be fixed by allowing as many 'blanks' as the player wants, but making them real blanks that don't deal any damage (there could be certain 'special' letters that cause blanks in the same word to do low-level damage). I can already tell that there is an incredible strategic depth in selecting the letters of your boiler. But without a stronger incentive to pick letters wisely, there isn't much point exploring those possibilities.


You do wind up typing from a certain vocabulary list quite a bit. Once you've got a bunch of the high-damage x, y, and z tiles, you are forced into using them regularly if you want to maintain damage output (a la tower defense). People with some mild chemical knowledge can fly through this -- how many words can be built starting from oxygen, oxidize, hydroxygenated, and so forth? Then, get into all the xylo- words, the various forms of detoxify, paroxysm, and every -x- word that has an adverb -ly ending. This strategy has gotten me into the 40's, and I'm no blitzkrieg typist. Yes, in case you didn't notice, there are at least 80 levels of this. One thing that bugs me is that the brass splash damage tiles are VASTLY better than the jade tiles, but I'm all loaded up with stupid green tiles. I wish there was a jade->brass formula; I'd even go 2-for-1 on them.


I can't work out how it decides when I find letters. I've had everything from nothing to a level three brass. It sometimes gives me one when I don't finish the level and other times it doesn't when I do.

Anyone worked it out?


So "sodomizing" is an accepted word, but not "incentivized"? I've been reading too many management books, I guess :P
It'd be interesting to see what words people use, some kind of online feedback thingy. Though I think my word list is quite disturbing, now that I look at it again :)


Aaw, they took out the ability to pause the game. Presumably to stop cheating, but it means that now I can't leave the awesome music playing while I'm doing something else. Which is a shame, because it really was awesome.


i don't understand what i have to do in the boiler
can anybody help me with wat i have to transmute??


Aah, I feel like an idiot now. To be fair though, judgmental was just the word I picked at random from a small selection of totally acceptable English words it wouldn't take. The dictionary does have odd gaps that can be really, really irritating.


Eh? It just totally randomly gave me a "game over" in the middle of a game. None of the spiders had so much as gotten near the vault. And then it went back to the between-levels screen, even gave me a couple of new letters, as if nothing had happened.

I have yet to figure out any rhyme or reason to when it gives you new letters and when it doesn't, by the way.


This game was nearly impossible for me to beat until I made a list. I ended up using only words with q and z. I was quite proud of my list, so I wrote up a strategy guide for beating the game.


Have at most 8 distinct letters in the boiler, and make sure you can make a single word using these letters. You should have more of the more powerful letters, but it seems to work well having at least two of each letter.

Transform any specials you have so that they can be used in the boiler as well. Brass letters are quite helpful, and jade is still better than iron in most cases. Just don't use too many specials, since the main damage comes from the iron letters.

Once you have your letters, make a list of words that use as many of the more powerful letters as possible. You can make quite a few variations of each word using -s, -ed, -ing, -er, -ers etc. Check to make sure all of your words work in the game before adding them to your final draft of the list. The list itself should group each word with its variations, and be around 25-26 words long. It it only required to be 21 letters long, but adding more will keep you from losing damage if you switch around or skip words. A list that is really long is unnecessary and may be harder to get into a rhythm with.

When you start a level, unlock all of the letter slots as quickly as possible. Use any word you want to unlock the first few slots. Repeat your power word to unlock the rest of the slots, regardless of the repeat penalty. Let the letter slots fill up before starting to type the power word, since otherwise it may give you repeated letters.

Once you have all 8 slots, start using your list. It doesn't matter too much about typing faster than the slots fill so long as you have a good list. When you're done with your list, repeat it. It should be no problem getting to level 40 with this strategy.

Here's the list I used to beat the game:

Power word: quetzals
(Only the letters in 'quetzals' should be in the boiler.)










I saw an earlier comment about getting new letters, which no one answered. Is it random, or is there a strategy when stuck, to play easier levels, or keep grinding away losing a harder one?


I would be interested in that, too. It says that you win letters by killing spiders. But it appears to be quite at random how many and how strong letters you get.

Anonymous January 15, 2010 8:21 AM

wonderful game. wish it would be in German though. For me with English as a foreign language it's quite hard to think of long english words so fast


darn the game doesn't remember your progress =( or does it?


The game doesn't seem to save. When I restart my browser I have to start all over again, in spite of all the save messages in between.. :-(

Great game anyway.

TheMusicGirl January 21, 2010 11:49 PM

I, being a simple minded person, is running out of words. I despratly look around myself to try and think of new ones!

Patreon Donator dsrtrosy March 8, 2010 10:26 AM

hmm...so I finally rediscovered this game as one I had wanted to play and--all my levels have disappeared? I thought it saved your level. I had played up to level 6, then had to do an interview this morning so I closed the game window. When I open it back up, I am starting over. Sigh.

I'm also curious (as are others in the comments above) why some perfectly normal words are "invalid" while many extremely odd words (look at that list up there in bluemoose19's post) are easily accepted. I often lose time scratching my head over a word that is spelled correctly and is at least as well known as "quantize". It would be very interesting to know what dictionary the game uses.

Patreon Donator dsrtrosy March 9, 2010 1:44 PM

Is there a way to send bug reports to the designers? Today I have again lost all of my progress from yesterday (if that is intentional, then there should be some sort of warning). I have also tried numerous times to send my email address with no response. I really liked the game, but I'm not willing to restart at level one every day. I just want to play through.

Blue Nina May 5, 2010 11:45 PM

I agree with all the previous people who are experiencing frustration at the game no longer saving one's progress. An otherwise addictive game has lost all its appeal because no one wants to start over at level 1.
Dearest Jay...is there any way to talk to the people responsible? (Fluttering eyelashes here.)


It would be really nice if it worked..
I have even tried allowing the game to store 10MB on my computer.. nothing :(

If anybody finds out how to do it, then please...

Patreon Donator Krizpy May 7, 2013 9:09 PM

I really like the design and art of the game.


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