Clock Tower 3
Game Info
Playstation 2
Survival Horror
Official Website
ESRB Rating
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
• Lame puzzles
• 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 your assailant.

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.

- - Kinderfeld

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