Lately, video games have been lacking one thing: terror. No video game has ever put anyone into shock, but in the old days, certain video games could strike fear into you at the right moment. Remember when Jason came out of nowhere in Friday the 13th on the NES? Remember when the painting of the Princess turned into Bowser in Super Mario 64? Remember when Sega teamed up with MGM Interactive for that horrible firefighting game? Video games used to be scary, and lately, they haven't been, which is why Clock Tower by ASCII Entertainment is so cool.
Clock Tower is a scary game. No, really - it will actually frighten you. The premise may sound silly, but believe me, this game will make you jump more often than you want. The story (as outlined in the prologue) goes like this: A disfigured mass murderer called Scissorman is on the loose, cutting up the citizens of Norway, and you must piece together clues to stop him. Sound simple? Well, it isn't. Clock Tower combines a point-and-click, 3D interface with some of the toughest puzzles since Myst for an interactive quest littered with twists and turns. Even if you do make it through many of the game's situations, you still must avoid the blades of the Scissorman, who is out to hack you up.
Playing Clock Tower is simple, but actually getting anywhere can be hard. The interface lets you point and click your way through each scene, but the game's puzzles are rather challenging. Solving the mystery of the Scissorman is no easy task, but, as a variety of characters, you can slowly navigate your way through the game's story and around Scissorman's blade (by hiding under and behind furniture). When you complete the game, you are treated to one of the game's many different endings. If Scissorman gets you, you'll have to be buried in about 18 coffins.
The 3D graphics in Clock Tower are more than you would expect for a game like this, providing a cinematic level of detail to each scene. The music also compliments the game; every time Scissorman is near, the eerie music lets you know that he is coming to get you. Clock Tower truly feels like an interactive horror film, and not since Resident Evil has a game gotten down the familiarly haunting feeling so well. From the cut scenes to the dialogue, this game sets up a good mix of terror and story, and things come to a peak with the (somewhat) violent scenes that occur when you (or someone else) gets sliced.
While Clock Tower is similar to Resident Evil, it definitely has its own feel - yes, the game is scary, but the style of gameplay is much slower than adventure game players are accustomed. If you like games that involve a good amount of detective work, Clock Tower is worth picking up. The detailed storyline and immersive gameplay are sure to win over a set of gamers that don't find enough cerebral stimulation in today's current crop of games. If you want faster-paced blood and gore though, your needs are better served with Resident Evil: Director's Cut or the upcoming Resident Evil 2. Clock Tower is hardly revolutionary, but it is very refreshing.