Isn’t being scared the best thing in the world? Some of my favourite memories in college involved a bunch of people sitting in the crawl space of my dorm telling scary stories to each other in an attempt to one up the last and leave everyone shitting their pants. More often than not, we were absolutely successful. That is because deep down we all love the feeling that comes with fear. Now of course this fears hits best in a vicarious sense, I for one would not like to be chased by a violent killer and instead try and imagine myself being chased by a violent killer. This is why we enjoy telling scary stories, watching scary movies or playing scary video games. We want to get as close as we can to being chased by a violent killer as we can without actually doing it. That is the focus on this Video Game Rage today.
There is this little gem of a game called Clock Tower. If you haven’t heard of it, I highly recommend looking into it. You can do that by reading through the rest of this or going out literally right now to play it. It is expensive, but there are emulators. If you are one of the people who have stayed here to read the rest of this post, let’s all board the Clock Tower hype train.
In Clock Tower you play the role of Jennifer, a girl who was recently adopted from an orphanage along with a bunch of her friends. When you get to the ominous scary mansion your adoptive mother Mary leaves the room and doesn’t come back. Your friends convince you to see where she went and then there’s a scream and then when you go back to where your friends were they are all gone! Bum bum bummmm. The front door is locked and now you are trapped in a scary ass mansion all by yourself and you need to start finding your friends and a way out. Not long after you find one of your friends dead and then you are attacked by a terrifying little kid wielding scissors that are three times bigger than he is. That really ups the stakes for Jennifer and the rest of the game is trying to find your way out of the mansion all while evading death at every turn.
The game controls in a point and click adventure style on a 2D plane. You can move around or pick up objects by pointing and clicking. During times of attack or stress you have to mash the ‘panic’ button to escape the conflict alive. The controls are amazingly simple but it isn’t like much is needed for something like this. The gameplay itself is usually you walking around the house attempting to find items to pick up, puzzles to solve, and solving the puzzles with items you picked up. Occasionally Scissorman pops up due to a story event, random chance or direct player interaction with an item. When he is there you need to run and find a place to hide or outsmart him, because taking him out physically will just stun him temporarily and he will never stop looking for you until you do hide from him.
This is what makes it so scary, the fact that Jennifer is a defenceless young girl. You are truly powerless against the big bad in the game and, like Pyramid Head, is what truly makes Scissorman a force to be reckoned with. He can kill you quickly and painfully and he will enjoy doing it; that’s why we want Jennifer to make it out of this alive.
Apart from Scissorman the area this game is nigh flawless in is the atmosphere. Certain rooms will absolutely make your skin crawl. They are like chilling digitized photographs made with the purpose of making you think ‘what the hell, why does this room even exist?’. I’ll throw down a few examples that I experienced in my playthrough that made me pause and go ‘huh, I think I want to get out of this room as soon as I can…’
Those were some of my favourite rooms. Specifically the mannequin room, that was the one that made my mouth drop agape upon entering it. To make matters worse I felt inclined with interacting with as many items as I could in the room just because of my compulsiveness to do so in video games. This caused me to stay in these rooms much longer than I would’ve liked to and, in a few cases, cause my dear old friend Scissorman to appear. To further enhance the fear aspect, these rooms all have random events that happen in the background. A good example of this is one room you enter has a record player. You check out the record player and it’s broken, unfortunate because you wanted to listen to some Bryan Adams, but whatever, it’s an old house. You go and explore the room some more and all of a sudden the most awful broken sounding music begins to play because the record player turned itself on. You have to walk back across the room and turn it off manually. If you investigate the record player further it is still broken, you can’t even turn it back on. Just slightly off putting and it is enough to constantly keep you on edge during your playthrough.
I had an absolute blast with Clock Tower and it is a game I try to get people to play as much as I can. A few of my friends have been exposed to it due to my request of watching them play through it just because I want to see what ending they get. There are numerous endings that you can achieve due to how many of your friends kick the bucket and how you interact with certain things in the mansion, so there is some re-playability involved. Nothing like a whole brand new game, but just enough to make that next playthrough worth it. Worst case scenario, get your friend to play through while you watch. Turn off all the lights and turn up the sound and scare yourself like you did when you were a kid. Or hell, grab a giant pair of scissors and chase your friends around with them. If they’ve read this post or played the game I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.
Next week I am back to straight up video game reviews, none of this gushing for classics I love stuff. The clue is below, I’m trying to both beat around the bush and hit the nail right on the head with this one. Come back here next Wednesday!