| Violence, Blood and Gore
| The Good
Panic aspect good change of pace
Good cutscene graphics
Voice acting and good story
| The Bad
Boss fight scenarios are poorly implemented
Controls seem to lag at times
Rather than giving players weapons in which to mow through
legions of demons and zombies, the Clock Tower series
has always built a level of fear by making you use your wits
against violent maniacs. In Clock Tower 3, you play
as Alyssa, a young woman who is drawn home after receiving
an odd letter from her mother warning her to go into hiding.
Once home, she finds herself drawn into alternative timelines,
where she must aid the dead and defeat serial killers. As
the story unfolds, she discovers that she is part of a line
of Rooders, magically adept young girls who must aid the dead
to ease their suffering.
Those familiar with the older games will be at ease with
the main aspect of the game. Clock Tower 3's main gameplay
involves finding keys, items and clues to move the story along.
All the while, you'll be on the run from a monster or ghost.
The ghosts are generally stuck in one location and you can
find a personal item to set them free. To be honest, the ghosts
are the least of your worries - in each area, you'll have
a deranged serial killer who tends to show up and tries to
kill you. You can outrun them and even hide in specific hiding
spots, which are useful even if the killer is in the room
(the A.I. is pretty low-grade). In some places, you'll find
items or switches that glow. Hitting the X Button while near
them will set off a sequence that will temporarily knock out
One of the main aspects of any survival horror game is puzzle-solving.
In Clock Tower 3, though, the puzzles are pretty mundane.
If you find half of a locket, it's almost a sure bet that
the other is lying around nearby, twinkling to make finding
it all the more easy. Throughout the bulk of the game, you'll
find tons of these simple "puzzles" (for lack of
a better term) which ultimately only serve as filler.
Instead of a health gauge, Alyssa has a panic gauge which
measures how much fear she's experiencing. When a killer attacks
her, it'll increase noticeably. Once the gauge maxes out, she'll
go into panic mode, where your control over her become erratic
and she's more susceptible to being killed. Along the way,
you'll find items, like Lavender Water, which will lower the
panic gauge. Also, when not in danger, the gauge will slowly
work it's way down.
Near the end of each location, Alyssa will be drawn into
a boss fight where she gains the ability to drawn a magical
bow to damage the murder. At this time, she does acquire a
health gauge and players will be forced to do some quick maneuvering
to avoid damage. To defeat the bosses, you need to chain a
series of charged up magical arrows, which will cause the
boss to become weakened enough for a finishing attack.
Graphically, the game looks good enough, even if a little
drab at times. The game is built in full polygonal environments
with a good level of detail. While the character models for
the monsters are sharply done, the main character's model
looks a little plain. Ghosts look like higher polygon apparitions
from the Playstation first person ghost game Echo Night.
Most of the time the game's camera is set in specific locations,
but it can move in a disorienting manner for certain spots.
I won't lie - I really wish they had just done a little more
with the graphics engine. Some better lighting/shadow effects
to make a more dramatic experience would have covered up some
jagged edges and less than spectacular character models. Fortunately,
the story is told through some nice cutscenes.
Voice acting is done well enough to drive the story, though
some of the lines from the murderers can get annoying through
repetition. The sound effects are spot on and the music is
pretty solid, even if a little odd in places. Some of the
tracks are effective in driving the panic aspect of the game,
while other tracks feel like old MIDIs rehashed to fill out
the audio portion.
As in any game in the survival horror genre, control always
seems to be an issue. The game controls in an analog fashion
relative to the camera that works all right. The biggest complaint
I have with the controls is that the button responses seem
to lag at times, especially during the boss fights, where
hitting the button to charge an arrow may not work right away,
costing you precious seconds. But, then again, the boss fight
interface seems to be poorly implemented and detracts from
the helpless panic aspect of the game. What's the use of running
away from a murderer, often with little effort, when you'll
just end up taking him out Resident
Evil or Silent Hill-style later on.
If you've played most of the titles available in the genre,
I'd suggest giving Clock Tower 3 a try. It's not perfect
and some of the aspects of the game take away from a game
that could have been as terrifying as Fatal
Frame. Still, if you're a fan of the series, you'll still
want to check it out.