Clutter V: Welcome to Clutterville is a game developed independently by Joe Cassavaugh, an indie developer that created his own solo studio, Puzzles by Joe, and has thrived ever since. It is a hidden object game with a simple premise, that is to clean the mess (or clutter) by matching items and making them disappear.
This has become an entire Clutter series, and it has its very own unique brand and charm, with an ever-growing following.
This game is not all that complicated to understand, but it can be quite tricky to play. Once you have chosen a stage, a timer will start, and you need to make some matches to complete the stage.
A match is simply clicking on an item and then clicking on its identical twin, but as the title implies, this is a clutter! All the items are piled on top of each other, and it can be really hard to tell what is what when you can only see a fraction of anything.
In later stages, when the clutter gets too much, the game becomes more lenient and accepts "cloes matches", in which two items look similar enough even though they are not identical.
To make things even more messy, there are other sets of items that are splattered around the clutter. These items, in fact, have little to do with the clutter. One example would be coins that simply award points. They can come in any size and they represent currencies from all around the world.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to match them, just click on them and you will be awarded the points. The only challenge is that it is not always obvious whether something is a coin or just a circular-shaped object.
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The art direction is very simplistic, and it is almost like an educational game. It relies on real photographs that represent each of the items that need to be selected, with very little illustrations otherwise.
The rest of the design is centered around the idea of the different mines that represent the type of puzzles and difficulties one might encounter in them. Each cave has its own metal associated with it, and the standard experience for Clutter V: Welcome to Clutterville is Gold.
Right off the bat, we'd like to declare that the game itself has very little in terms of story, and people are given the option to opt out of it entirely. This is understandable, since the nature of these types of minigame-driven experiences is to enjoy them for what they are: bite-sized gameplay to turn off your mind to.
Yet there is something here for those who are willing to read it, and it is more personal than you might expect.
The game's story is something of a metanarrative; it is a story of how the game, as a game, came to be. As you solve the different puzzles and advance through the stages, little snippets of text will tell you how the Clutter V, and the Clutter franchise in general, came to be.
The main character is not fictional. Rather, it is Joe Cassavaugh himself, as he narrates the events that lead to continuing the series, how he took fan feedback, and what the future may hold. This is a surprisingly personal story that not only speaks of one mans journey, but also the ups and downs of game development, as well as how hard it is to be a solo developer.
We found that this was a highly personal touch, and giving the option for players to opt out of the story is also a great one, as the struggles of a game developer may not be entirely relevant to every player.
Clutter V: Welcome to Clutterville is a charming little game that can get quite personal at times, yet it is definitely worth giving it a chance just to enjoy the brain teasers that are these cluttering challenges.
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If you enjoy these free games, you will love this list of our 10 Best Hidden Object Point and Click Games!