The Art of Horology (PC) Review with Stream
Step by step directions
Supporting an interesting hobby
Very slow pace
Hard for beginners
Time and Time Again
A lesser-known saying on the internet states “If it exists, there is a video game of it”. This is definitely true as we can see by the creation of a game for people who like watch making. Truly a niche game, but that caters to its fans quite well, and shows the ins and outs of creating a beautiful timepiece. Though, if you weren’t a fan of Horology before it has the tools and diagrams to help you get started in this interesting hobby.
First and foremost, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. This IS an educational game, which by judging from past entries sets a very low bar to meet for quality. There are some games in the past that were considered educational, yet good, but they were few and far between, with Oregon Trail probably being the best example. As a concept, teaching people to build time pieces with a digital diagram that can be accessed over the internet shows a willingness to grow with the times, even though the study may lean toward the past. The detailed nature of this activity basically begs to be put on screen where you can manipulate it in 3D space, instead of some hard to read layered diagram.
Having a 3D model makes it more real for everyone. Nobody wants to just look at diagram, and instead lets the student learn by “feel” if they aren’t actually touching anything. They do however provide a study guide to let people start off, which I do recommend to the lay person who is interested in horology. You can of course just start playing the game, and try to assemble the timepiece, but without knowing the purpose of any gear or sprocket, it won’t be evident how it all fits together, even if they arranged in order of installation.
Understanding how it all fits together is kinda the whole point of this game, but its message gets muddled by what might be the worst user interface I have ever seen. I do remember making these type of buttons, animations, and graphics in grade school, but I really expect better from someone over the age of 12. Even if you did appreciate the nostalgic 90’s look, even their placement is preposterous as they obscure objects, titles, and information that you actually need.
It’s one thing to look bad, many get away with that, but it’s quite another to harm the gameplay.
It’s hard to really pick apart a game that was really meant as a learning tool to help a not-for-profit program that helps urban youth pickup an interesting skill and keeps a nearly lost art alive. But, its still a game that’s on steam, so we have to judge it fairly. It clearly has people who love horology behind it, and that can be seen by the level of detail put into the actual info, models, and watches in the game. That said the “game” part of the game is definitely the weak point, and they would be better suited to maybe just have a very detailed model made in MAYA that students could take apart. I understand the logic about making it colorful and having little pop up characters tell you what to do, so as to entice the younger generations but it could have been done much better. I appreciate that people wanted to make something that teaches, in a format that the young would understand like games, even when it’s clearly not their day job.