Clock Tower 3

Synopsis: A young British schoolgirl (Alyssa) at boarding school receives a letter from her mother asking Alyssa to go into hiding until after her birthday. After receiving a phone call from her mother she rushes home to discover her mother has gone missing. A mysterious stranger tells her that her mother will not be coming home at all. This thrusts her into an adventure through time where she will have to accept her destiny. Or die.

Gameplay:  The first three Clock Tower games were point and click, adventure-style games. This is more active. You control Alyssa. The basis of the game is hiding, not fighing. Your only real weapon is a small bottle of Holy Water with which you can stun enemies, briefly. There are Hide and Evade locations throughout the game which you can use to escape. Instead of a Health Bar you get a Panic Bar. If she gets frightened it starts to fill and if it fills all the way Alyssa will go into full Panic Mode. If she’s struck during Panic Mode it’s an automatic Game Over. There are items that you pick up that help. Lavendar Water (which will calm Alyssa down if she gets stressed), Invisibility Bands (which makes her invisible to the enemy), And Sigil Stones (which will take a hit for you once). That’s about it. And you don’t get a whole lot of them so you’ll want to use them sparingly.

The controls can be a little touchy and clunky at times. Most of the time it’s no big deal but when you’re running from an enemy and trying to navigate the tight spots it can be a real pain. Probably the biggest complaint with the controls is during the boss battles. You’re Holy Water Bottle turns into a bow with which to fight the Sub-Ordinates. But drawing on the enemy can be a real bitch because you can’t move it once you’ve taken aim. And some of the Sub-Ordinates move very fast. That would be my only real complaint though.

  Plot: Spoilers ahead, just so you’re warned.

  The plot revolves around Alyssa. She has been at boarding school for the past three years, having been sent there abruptly by her mother with no explanation. On the eve of her fifteenth birthday she receives a letter from her mother, warning her to go into hiding until her fifteenth birthday has passed. Shortly after she receives a phone call, purportedly from her mother, but when she answers it the line is empty. Convinced something is wrong Alyssa rushes home. There she is confroted by a mysterious man who tells her that her mother is dead, then departs. After this she is thrust into a series of encounters through history, destroying evil and helping lost souls. Alyssa learns that she is a ‘Rooder’, teenage girls around the world who fight evil throughout their early teen years and their powers begin to wane at age 18. They then marry young to bring up the next generation of Rooders.

I really love the story and Alyssa is a great character to spend time with. She’s cute, funny and charming. She’s a girl shoved face-first into a world she knows nothing about and, refreshingly, does not suddenly develop ass-kicking powers out of nowhere. She gets scared, she doesn’t know what to do sometimes and she gets thrown around. A lot. I get that her mother doesn’t want her to have to be endangered but geez, she could have at least given the girl a little warning. Alyssa basically has to start from scratch and pick up her clues along the way.

If I were pressed to name one thing about Alyssa that I thought fell short it would be her naivete. She watches a flashback in which her grandfather kills her father (which is presumably written off as an accident) then fund information that someone  of the same bloodline  will try to tear out her heart and drink her blood to become an Entity. And her first thought is “Who would want to tear out my heart?”

Um, maybe your creepy-ass murderous grandfather? Just a hunch. Because you find notes throughout that prove dear old grandfather is a world class creeper.

Another thing I really like about the game is that Alyssa is not a typical, sexy, ass-kicking heroine. Her model is actually pretty plain. Her school clothes are not revealing or tight-fitting. She’s only supposed to be fourteen years old so that was a wise decision to me.

  Acting: The voice acting is done very well. Surprisingly so, especially for the year it came out. Alyssa’s is great and all of the secondary characters are great. Except Dennis. Actually, his voice work isn’t all that bad (except for the unforgivably bad John Wayne impersonation). It just didn’t seem to fit with the insanely annoying hyperactiveness of his character.

The music cuts could be a tad better. It’s mostly pretty bland. The ‘discovery’ music when you find an item reminds me far too much of ‘Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders’. And not in a good way.

Graphics: Are suitable. The faces look a little strange at times but for the most part it’s pretty well done. The two movies that they go all out on are pretty awesome. Particularly at the end battle.

The Enemies: The Enemies, called Sub-Ordinates, are creatively done and look creepy as all hell. For some reason Sledgehammer makes my skin crawl the most. It could have a little something to do with the brutal murder of a little girl. They give you enough backstory on them so that they’re interesting but it does not slow the story down at all.

So, in closing this tops my list of favorites because it’s fun to play, the characters are enjoyable…for the most part. I could do without Dennis pretty easily. I think he’s supposed to be comedy relief, and some of the stuff he says is pretty funny, but I honestly can’t stand the way he flails about. It’s weird, to be honest. I started calling Dennis my D.i.D. – My Dennis in Distress because Alyssa needs to save him a few times. He comes through as well and despite the peculiar movement choices he’s actually a really sweet friend to Alyssa. He is literally a support character because he gives her morale boosts when she needs them. They are very fleshed out characters and they make you care about them.

I have to warn sensitive players/viewers: At the beginning it warms that the game shows disturbing and violent images. They’re not lying about it or exaggerating. For the first two Sub-Ordinates that you take on you witness the crimes they committed and yes, they’re pretty horrific. They only show the murders committed by the first two Subs but I’m guessing that’s so the  censors didn’t freak out.

This also makes the list about strong female characters in video games. One of those that gets overlooked very often. I’m not entering the fray over women in gaming. I think both sides have valid points. However, I don’t think it helps to only point out what’s wrong with them and overlook every example of games that did it right. The PS2 era has quite lot of them. From female lead characters to string support characters. I’ll try to cover as many as I can from my own library.

Here’s something just because:

It’s a music video I did in really, really early days. I’m not too fond of this one since I had to only use clips downloaded from IGN and Gamespot. I’m trying to get a recording set-up for the PS2 so I can make some better ones. Any advice would be appreciated! Currently I have a Dazzle, some cords, a PC and one old ass TV. So, here’s hoping.

As always any comments or feedback would be appreciated and I’ll see you later tonight for Twilight Zone Tuesday!