Clea 2 (Switch) Review
I first saw Clea at a PAX Aus, watching this side-scrolling survival game where the characters moved like paper puppets/dolls. The concept was interesting. The enemy moves around the world in real-time, patrolling the corridors as you do your best to sneak around. The first Clea was released on the Switch in 2020. I missed out on it at the time, but now the sequel is here. I had to experience how this gripping survival horror will keep me on the edge of my seat.
You do not play as the titular Clea for the sequel. Instead, you play as Florine, a maid from Whitlock Mansion, the setting for the first game. Years after the events of Clea, Florine begins the game working for the Chester family. They want you to open up the gates to the 4th dimension, with hopes to resurrect a being called the War Maiden. If like myself you didn’t play the original, you can still get by. There isn’t much of a story, and often it’s so matter of fact while being quite strange that I don’t think it really makes a difference. Florine aims to bring someone of great importance to her, the Chesters happen to have a soul chalice, and wherever you go someone wants you dead. But don’t think about any of it too hard.
As with the first game, you will be spending your time sneaking around corridors, peeking through doors and hiding in alcoves. Clea 2 is very much a survival horror, where stealth is key and sound plays a huge part in that. Whenever the enemy/creepy person/monster moves around, you can hear them in the background. If you listen carefully, you’ll have some idea how far away or close they might be. The game recommends wearing headphones, and I agree that it’s hard to hear where they are in a 3D space. The headphones aren’t a perfect option either. Using their footsteps isn’t always reliable, and other sounds can throw you off. But it is a fantastic mechanic regardless. It adds to the tension throughout the entire game, even when you’re sure you’re somewhere safe.
Some of the best moments for me involved sneaking around from room to room, planning my movements to keep Florine moving in the opposite direction from the killer masked child or bandaged creature. When everything is working as intended, the stealth-based puzzle-solving will keep you on your toes when you know where you’re going and what to do there. Although when it’s not working, the constant hiding and slow tiptoeing around drags the game out, especially when you’re still working out where to go. There is too much back and forth between rooms, with quite some distance between them. I get that the whole point is to have that tension and sneak around without getting caught. Due to the constant presence of someone nearby on the lookout for you, at first, I spent most of the time tiptoeing. This is the slowest way to move around, constantly having to shift my view a screen ahead or behind me when I could hear the footsteps getting so close. The tension becomes frustration when you feel the game is stalling for time. After some time I was able to make better use of the much noisier run button. If I knew the enemy was heading the opposite direction, I would bolt the other way while keeping an eye out for a spot to hide. It sped up the game somewhat, but even then, I would often wind up hiding out because my killer kept leaving the room, walking a few steps and then coming back in.
InvertMouse advertises that there’s no jump scares here, and they do keep their word for the most part. I often wound up dead when I peeked through a door, finding the enemy there opening the door and killing me suddenly while screaming at me. I may not have jumped, but I sure as hell swore every time it happened. It was how I died in the game most of the time. When they come through the door like that, there is no time for escape, just sudden shrieking death. While there may not be scares galore, Clea 2 does a great job keeping the atmosphere tense. Footsteps and sounds always remind you of the constant danger, being mindful of hiding places wherever you go. If you decide to have unlimited candles turned off, there’s the added thrill of having finite saves to work from. While I had infinite candles on, I could easily see how much this one option could add an extra level of anxiety.
Clea 2 isn’t a long game, and how long you spend will entirely come down to how sneaky you try to be. And once you’ve beaten the game, it doesn’t mean it’s all over; there are extra difficulties to unlock if you want to give yourself a real challenge. You can also turn on or off settings to make the game easier or harder on yourself. I am thankful for options like unlimited candles. If you were stuck without the option, I likely would have had a less pleasant time.
Clea 2 is a strange survival horror game that does a lot by keeping you tense and mindful of your surroundings. If you want to play a creepy stealth-based game where you’re constantly pursued, then InvertMouse has you covered. For the cautious, the game could drag on a little too long. Speedrunners and survival horror fans will likely get much more out of Clea 2.
+ A tense survival horror
+ The stealth works well
- Sneaking around feels so slow.
- Enemies keeping you stuck waiting in hiding spots