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Clock Tower 3 Second Opinion

Daniel Weissenberger's picture

I agreed with nearly everything that Brad had to say in his article. Clock Tower 3 is a flawed but interesting game whose comfortable control system represents a leap forward for Capcom's survival horror franchises. He and I differ on one very major point, though, which is why I'm rating the game slightly higher than he did. That difference? I found the game to be very, very scary.

Of course, "scary" means different things to different people, so I'll define my terms a little more clearly—the game is amazingly intense, although not in a way that all people will appreciate. If players are looking for an overwhelming sense of unease, a creepy growing terror that seeps into their mind and unsettles them, then this game won't provide it. That doesn't mean it's not scary. Clock Tower 3 isn't interested in subtlety. If Silent Hill is a scalpel, carefully uncovering nerves, then Clock Tower is a sledgehammer that wants nothing more than to beat its audience into submission.

Brad mentioned the helplessness he felt when playing the first Clock Tower, and despite the ease with which the villains can be eluded at times, I have to admit that I got that exact same feeling when playing Clock Tower 3. Being chased from room to room by a gigantic, gibbering maniac wearing a blood-soaked leather apron is in and of itself terrifying, and the relentlessness with which the villains operate, never offering more than a few moments of respite at a time, serves to increase the level of pressure on the player to terrifying levels. One friend told me that he was unable to play the game because it played too much havoc with his nerves.

The game's largest flaw, which Brad touched on, is the fact that its story completely falls apart in the second half. When the focus is taken away from the stories of the killers and the horror of their crimes, and is placed on the revelation that the main character is the latest in a line of teen girls predestined to battle evil spirits, it almost feels like the game's designers had become scared of their subject matter, and decided to move over to much safer and well-trod material. The biggest loss is the creepy concept behind the first two villains—that any normal person could suddenly find themselves inhabited by an "entity" and driven to commit horrible acts of murder. That idea, if explored a little further, might have made for an interesting plot. Unfortunately, as the tone of the game changes, that idea is dropped, and the last few killers are far less interesting as a result.

Brad complimented the cutscenes, but I don't think he went far enough—there's one murder scene towards the beginning of the game that managed to frighten and shock me more than almost anything else I'd ever seen in a video game. It was proof positive that games can emotionally involve their players, and a great example about how important context is when using violence to affect an audience. Truly gory sequences are rare enough in the game that when one appears, it's a shocking and unpleasant experience, and I found myself reassured that I hadn't grown completely desensitized to violence when it's displayed seriously, and semi-realistically.

Capcom has a real opportunity to create a successful franchise here, a kind of Resident Evil-lite, with manageable controls and hopefully free of the unbelievably complex continuity that plagues Resident Evil. In his conclusion, Brad suggested that he'd be interested in playing a fourth Clock Tower game, and I would as well, so long as its story were reigned in a little more tightly, and it had the conviction to really frighten its audience, the way this title almost did. A 7.0 out of 10 rating sounds about right, doesn't it?

Category Tags
Platform(s): PS2  
Developer(s): Capcom  
Publisher: Capcom  
Series: Clock Tower  
Genre(s): Horror  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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