The Clock Tower trilogy has been moderately successful however it still seems that many people have overlooked them. Particularly the first one. While Clock Tower 3 seems to have gotten more attention because it was on play station 2 and played more like a traditional survival horror game instead of a point and click adventure these games are still a very interesting piece of survival horror history. The roots of the series take us back to 1995 when it premiered in Japan and was known as “The First Fear”. A year later the sequel would come out and simply be titled “Clock Tower”. It would also get a US release this time.
The Clock Tower original game is loosely based on Phenomena, an awesome 70's horror film made by Dario Argento, who also created the horror classic Suspiria. I played this game using ROMS that happened to have decent translations and have to say it was great. They really captured the atmosphere of the classic Argento films with everything from the way the house looked and the music to the way the the parts outside the house appear. Argento has always had a very striking visual style and has always had a liking to school girls and large sprawling estates. Clock Tower is all about these things.
In the game you play Jennifer Simpson and you come from an orphanage. You are escorted with friends from the orphanage by your newly adopted mother named Mary Barrows. She is an extremely wealthy eccentric woman who lives in this mansion simply known as “The Clock Tower”, due to the large clock tower on the grounds. Shortly after arriving Mary and the other girls disappear and you are left to your own devices to find out what happened to them.
An interesting thing to note about the game is that the way you play it is not traditional. It is, at heart, a point and click adventure game. You go around the house and start searching rooms for items that can be used to solve puzzles elsewhere. You keep going from room to room interacting with objects, examining things and collecting items. As time goes on you'll start to see some scary things happen and most of them will make your character panic and then you move on. Sometimes though, it'll be the “scissor man” busting into the room. This monstrous man with large scissors wants to kill you and you have to run and hide from him. You enter panic mode and have to click quickly in order to run away or sometimes even try to counter the assailant.
The game has many different endings, some of which connect to Clock Tower 2 and some of which contradict the events of the second game. These endings are unlocked depending on what actions you take throughout the game and a couple of them can happen extremely early. There is one where you find keys and simply jump in the car and leave without trying to save anyone or find any resolution to the events in the house.
It's not a traditional survival horror but if you are a fan of 70's horror films, Dario Argento, point and click games, survival horror or anything like that then this game is definitely worth a shot. Below are links to the roms and program needed to run them.