After surviving the horrors of the murderous Scissorman, Jennifer may never lead a peaceful life again. Not only will she forever have to live with the traumas of the Barrows Mansion massacre, but the press, as well as a group of enthusiastic academics, won’t let her forget it. With constantly being barraged with questions, theories, and a battery of tests, it almost feels like a recurring nightmare. However, when a series of mysterious murders begin to crop up again, Jennifer can’t help but fear that her nightmares are more real than she thinks.
In Clock Tower 2 from Human Entertainment we dive back into the world of the ever persistent Scissorman, only this time it’s not just about survival. This time we’ll need to piece together the puzzles of the Barrows Family and figure out the origin of this dastardly figure and put a stop to him for good.
Like I mentioned in our review of Clock Tower: The First Fear, Clock Tower 2, or just Clock Tower in the west, was my first foray into the series, and for a long time it stuck out to me as one of the creepiest games I have ever played. But, like most games I played as a kid, I hadn’t touched it in 20+ years. So, after revisiting the series with its inaugural entry, I was curious to see after so long, if the game still held up, and if it could still give me the chills like it did way back when.
Of course, I wasn’t going into it blind, especially after playing The First Fear. With that game, I was reacclimated to what these games expected of me, their pace, and their type of horror. Which was jumpscare based, and the occasional stressful escape sequence as you try to find a hiding spot to keep you safe from the pursuing Scissorman. Though I will admit, I was worried that the timeless 2D graphics of the first game would spoil me when it came to playing its sequel. Primarily because the jump to 3D wasn’t exactly a smooth one during the 32bit era. Despite my hesitations, I was excited to revisit the game, and even if it wasn’t as great as I remembered, it would at least deliver the nostalgia I was pining for.
Let me just start off by saying that although I have a weird fondness for the janky 3D days of the PS1, with its wonky textures and blocky polygons, it was pretty rough moving from the ageless aesthetics of the original Clock Tower to the dated aesthetics of its sequel. What I remember as being atmospheric and immersive in Clock Tower 2 when I was younger, just seems goofy nowadays. Especially knowing what we’re capable of doing with 3D graphics, even later in the console’s life. With that said, it still has its charms and the grittiness of the low resolution textures plays well with the game’s horror themes. Even the stiff character animations and slow, methodical movement, as you’re exploring each area can add to the tension when you hear the distinctive sounds of the Scissorman hunting you down. I’m not going to lie and say that it would convince anyone to play it based purely on its looks, but for the time, it was effective.
From a gameplay perspective, it really is a lot of the same when compared to the original. You’ll still be fighting with the fact that you’ll need to move a mouse cursor around with a controller, you’ll still need to progress through each scenario by solving simple, adventure game style puzzles, and you’ll still need to escape the clutches of Scissorman whenever he decides to show his distorted face, which happens a lot more frequently in this entry. In fact, it happens that much more often that it can get in the way of you exploring the environments, making figuring out what you need to do a tad frustrating.
Clock Tower 2 also suffers from a lot of the same issues as the original game. Like The First Fear, it’s not always apparent where and when you should use a key item, and points of interest can sometimes be hard to discern from the background, or it requires your cursor to be in just the right place. Which means you’ll be poking and prodding a lot before you find what you need. When it comes to the poking and prodding however, there has definitely been some improvements. For example, the mouse cursor’s movement is much more fluid, and although it may have taken me a minute or two to figure out where things needed to be used, the process of elimination was much more straightforward and intuitive. I also appreciated that in certain areas, the camera pans and rotates with your cursor, giving you a clearer perspective of your surroundings. Making it that much easier to explore.
Playing Clock Tower 2 may not have been all sunshine and lollipops, but the one thing that stood out about this sequel was that its pacing felt much more thoughtful. Unlike in the first game, you’re slowly reintroduced to the narrative, instead of being thrown directly into the mix. It’s also structured like a murder mystery, so as you progress through the game and as you uncover more and more information about the Scissorman, as well as his family, you’ll be piecing things together. It may not always stick the landing, but I appreciated the thought that was put in.
So, with all of that in mind, I think my final verdict for the game is that it wasn’t as good as I remembered, but it also wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Going back and playing games you’re nostalgic about can sometimes be a double edged sword, and in this case I’m glad it exceeded my expectations – as low as they were. Sure the limping Scissorman isn’t as threatening or as scary as I remembered, and the dialogue is campy, awkward, and forced, but if you can look past those things, and maybe the visual assault to your modern tastes, then there’s still fun to be had. If I had to make a recommendation between which of the first two games you should play though, I’d probably say stick to Clock Tower: The First Fear. Its aesthetics aged much more gracefully, and it felt like much more of a step forward in the Horror Adventure game genre, then Clock Tower 2 did.
If nothing else, playing Clock Tower 2 made me excited to dive deeper into the series to see what further improvements (or detriments) Human Entertainment would make to the formula. I don’t know if it’s genuine desire or morbid curiosity, but I’m going to ride this train to the end and if you have the penchant for camp like I do, then I think you’ll have a good time with it. Two awkward and ungracefully aged thumbs UP from us!!