Clock Tower 3
Folks who normally react to the words "clock tower" with the same enthusiasm as to the words "particle board" and "iron lung" might be in for a change of attitude. CT3 has a lot more to offer horror-game junkies than its two PSi predecessors. Its atmosphere ranges from the serious psychological freakiness of Silent Hill, right on past the "Oh, hell, what is THAT thing?" factor of Resident Evil, and on to the ridiculously gory and outlandish mood of lllbleed (Dreamcast). Yeah, it shamelessly rips some ideas from these staples, but it looks and plays so well that we ain't complainin'. Let's discuss: The latest CT stays true to the pacifist design of the first two games (the only time you actually fight in CT3 is in boss battles, and even then, it's more evasion or self-defense), but it still manages to pack in all the action and suspense of its contemporaries.
Protagonist Alyssa Hale's major quests involve driving evil spirits from history's most murderous villains, but along the way, she'll also meet up with lesser stiffs and return the keepsakes they've lost.
In return, she'll receive handy items from her grateful undead pals. Moreover, she won't be assaulted by their meandering ghosts, who have the potential to build up her Panic meter.
The Panic meter gauges Alyssa's stress level as a result of frightening happenings. She doesn't really have the ability to fight, so she justly can't really get hurt (boss battles are the exception). But when, for example, a bad guy jumps out from behind a door or knocks her around a bit, she'll begin to panic. You'll then have to find a place for Alyssa to hide and ride out the stress. In this state, one of two things can happen: Alyssa gets so freaked out she dies, or she runs around like a drunken little schoolgirl. As much as we all like the sound of the latter, it's not good for gameplay--in that state, she's nearly impossible to control.
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Forget the first two Clock Tower games. Clock Tower3 has a new look, a new 3D control scheme, and a standalone story that doesn't require previous CTexperience, so no one should be scared off.
But the game will scare you. Developers Sunsoft and Capcom took an ingenious route to inducing fear: casting players as a teenage girl, Alyssa, who--with no weapons except holy water--must evade hostile enemies as she tries to find her missing mother. Throughout the intricate story line peppered with exquisite cinematics, Alyssa unlocks the mysteries behind some horrible murders--but in turn, a few homicidal maniacs chase her. A Panic Meter rises as Alyssa's enemies hit or scare her; if it fills up, she freaks out and becomes almost impossible to control. It's a little irritating, but it definitely increases your own panic level as you play.
Although the puzzles are easy to solve with your brain effectively turned off, the story is compelling enough that you'll want to pay attention to find out what happens next. Plus, the action elements--running from would-be killers and engaging in some fairly hardcore boss battles--keep CT3 from ever being another cliched adventure game, and the strikingly designed environments deliver a great feeling of creepy realism. Unfortunately, while Clock Tower 3 is fun to play and the story is both intriguing and gory enough to satisfy survival-horror fans, it's probably disturbingly easy for anyone who's ever finished a Resident Evil game. Those hoping for a lengthy adventure will be disappointed, and the short, simple quest might not justify its $50 price tag.