All video games contain the fingerprints of their developers, the oft subtle maker's mark that set the work apart in the eyes of devoted fans. Clay Jam's prints are anything but subtle, covering every inch of this whimsical hand-crafted game for iOS and Android.
Clay Jam, which we briefly featured late last year, is the magical creature of Fat Pebble, a Brighton-based indie developer consisting of industry veterans Michael Movel (creative director), Chris Roe (art director) and Iain Gilfeather (technical director.) The three of them boast 40 years of combined experience in the game industry, working with companies such as Lionhead, Climax, Blitz and Zoë Mode.
After years of making bigger console titles, Fat Pebble was formed, as Movel explained during a recent interview with Kotaku, to create "quirky fun games." It doesn't get much quirkier than building an entire game out of clay.
Clay Jam challenges players to roll a pebble down a series of hills, gathering clay as they roll over the bizarre creatures dotting the landscape. As creatures are collected, the pebble grows larger, Katamari-style, allowing the player to roll over even bigger creatures. Size matters, for at the bottom of each hill there lurks a gigantic clay creature. The bigger your ball, the further away you smack this gargantuan invader at the end of your run.
Building on the clay concept, instead of directly controlling the pebble the player can only trace furrows in the soft earth, guiding the pebble into and away from obstacles as the situation warrants.
Collected clay is used to unlock new roaming creatures, upgrade and unlock new hills to roll down and purchase power-ups to assist in your downhill domination. Clay Jam is a free game — everything is unlockable through normal play — but if you wanted to speed things up by purchasing extra clay I'm sure Fat Pebble wouldn't mind.
It's a simple, addictive little game that's as enjoyable to play as it is to look at. Every aspect of the title, from the tiniest creature to the menu font, was crafted and animated by art director Chris Roe's own hand. The team briefly flirted with the idea of importing the clay models as 3D objects, but ultimately decided to animate traditionally. It was a wise decision. The ageless nature of Claymation relies on those imperfect movements as much as it does the fingerprints left by the artist's careful hand.
Topped off by music from local artists and sounds from a local sound guy, every lovingly-molded inch of Clay Jam is an uncanny delight.