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 Clock Tower (Human Entertainment, 1997)

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emmanuel5
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PostSubject: Clock Tower (Human Entertainment, 1997)   Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:14 pm

“Clock Tower” is a 3rd-person horror adventure game released exclusively for Sony Playstation in 1997. It is actually the sequel to an older game released for Super Famicom (the japanese version of SNES) a couple of years earlier. Now, most people think that there were very few adventure games for PSX and all of them were ported from the PC. This is definitely not true! Actually, there were quite a few remarkable adventure games released on the console but never on PCs, like “Blazing Dragons”, “Boku No Natsuyasumi”, Hideo Kojima’s “Policenauts” and several others that unfortunately never saw the light of day outside Japan. “Clock Tower” was one of the few “lucky” ones, translated and released in Western markets.

In “Clock Tower” you explore the environments and examine hotspots, you pick up items and use them to solve puzzles, you talk to other characters etc just like in a traditional adventure game. The catch is that as you do all this standard adventuring stuff, there’s a serial killer with a giant pair of scissors chasing you around!!! The Scissorman will randomly appear when you least expect him and try to slice you to little pieces!

“So, is this an arcade\adventure, like Silent Hill?” you might be asking yourself.

No, it isn’t, because you simply can’t fight the killer! You have no weapons and the only way to defend yourself is run and hide until he goes away! On some occasions you can use certain objects from the environment to defend yourself but your basic strategy to stay alive is… RUUUNNNNN!!!

You can play as two different heroines, Jennifer, the protagonist of the previous “Clock Tower” game, and Helen, a psychologist who investigates the Scissorman case. Your actions (and interactions with other NPCs) during the game can drastically change the story and there are no less than 10 alternate endings, 5 for each character. It sounds cool, however, I have to mention that on one occasion the game ended abruptly because I was at the wrong place, wrong time and I am pretty sure that there must be other “premature” endings (so far I have only seen 3 different endings, one “good” and two “bad”).

The game plays just like a point ‘n’ click adventure but instead of a mouse you use the PSX controller. The interface is extremely simple; you use your D-pad to move the cursor and the X button to click on hotspots or items. If you’re attacked by the Scissorman you have to frantically press the square button to release yourself or it’s instant death. The programmers were smart enough to understand that a gamepad is not as accurate as a mouse, so they made the hotspots fairly large and easy to locate and there’s practically no pixel-hunting. Most puzzles are of medium difficulty and I personally found them very logical and nicely integrated to the story. There are also some helpful hints in the form of hidden notes scattered around the game world.

Another neat feature is the ability to save anywhere, quite uncommon for a console game. There are no pre-defined checkpoints\savepoints and anytime you feel like playing sth else or going to bed, you can call up the game menu and save your position. When you load a saved position, the game picks up from the exact spot you left. Unfortunately, there are only 3 save slots but that’s not a surprise if you think that the original memory card for the PSX had a capacity of just 1 MB.

Of course, the game isn’t perfect, especially when it comes to graphics and speech. “Clock Tower” is fully 3D, like “Silent Hill”, but the environments are a bit bland and the character models look rough and unattractive. The voice acting is also poor but, hey, this is a japanese game translated into English! What did you expect? Even big budget games like Capcom’s “Resident Evil” series are notorious for their awful voice acting! Music is sparse but when it’s there, it’s pretty good. Oh, and the loading times are (thankfully!) short for a PSX game.

In conclusion, “Clock Tower” may not be as scary or thought-provoking as, for example, the “Silent Hill” series, but is still a great choice for fans of mystery\horror games. It won’t impress you with its looks but it’s still very enjoyable to play, 15 years after its release, thanks to its excellent atmosphere and interesting story. If you’re a fan of the genre and you find a copy at a reasonable price, like I did, don’t let it slip away and even if you don’t own a Playstation, you can always play it on your PC, using an emulator, like pSX or ePSxe.

The Good:
+Excellent story and atmosphere
+Easy to play with gamepad
+No pixel hunting
+Ability to save anywhere
+Short loading times
+Several different endings-Highly replayable
+Works fine on a PC through emulators

The Bad:
-Some abrupt endings
-Very few save slots
-Poor voice acting

And The Ugly:
-3D graphics a bit... ugly

Final verdict: I’d give “Clock Tower” a 90% (or an A). It's scary, it has an interesting story to tell, it’s highly replayable and most important of all, it’s still enjoyable today, despite its age and poor graphics. Fans of horror games will love it!


Last edited by emmanuel5 on Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:34 pm; edited 2 times in total
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hatshepsut
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PostSubject: Re: Clock Tower (Human Entertainment, 1997)   Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:48 pm

Thanks for a very informative review emmanuel5. I haven't been able to obtain a copy of Clock Tower but I continue to look for it .
I started out playing adventure games on Playstation and Sega. Some of them have never been ported to PC like you said.

hatshepsut

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Gelert
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PostSubject: Re: Clock Tower (Human Entertainment, 1997)   Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:01 am

Excellent review.

I'll try to collate them as soon as possible. I may put the reviews on the main part of the website.

Can you give the game a %age rating emmanuel5?

Thanks. Wink

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An Adventurer's strength flows from the Point'n'Click Force.But beware The Dark Side my friend.Anger,rage,aggression.The dark side of the gaming Force are they.Easily they flow,quick to join you in a fight.If once you start down the dark path of RPGs, Action-Adventures or . . eek! . . Casual Games (brrr!),forever will it dominate your destiny.Consume you it will,as it did Ethel,of whom we dare not speak for fear of instant expulsion from our true faith of Point'n'Click.
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emmanuel5
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Join date : 2010-06-09
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: Clock Tower (Human Entertainment, 1997)   Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:11 pm

Gelert and hatshepsut, thank you very much for your comments; I’m glad you found my mini-review interesting. I also added a final comment where I give the game an A or 90%.
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