Clock Tower Series Retrospective Part 6: The Spiritual Successors, Haunting Ground/Demento/NightCry

Clock Tower Series Retrospective Part 6: The Spiritual Successors, Haunting Ground/Demento/NightCry
Clock Tower Series Retrospective Part 6: The Spiritual Successors, Haunting Ground/Demento/NightCry

Insert Disk collects Haunting Ground/Demento for the PlayStation 2 (PS2).

Today’s retro game review is part 6 of a massive 6 part Halloween special. In this concluding episode I look at the Haunting Ground/Demento for the PlayStation 2 (PS2). With Clock Tower 3 drastically deviating from the plot of the original Clock Tower games it was time to get the series back on track. So began the development of Clock Tower 4.

However, it became apparent that Clock Tower 4 had become something else during its development. This gave rise to the game known as Demento in Japan and Haunting Ground in the rest of the world.

Haunting ground is not officially a Clock Tower series game, it is most certainly its spiritual successor though as it share many of the same mechanics such as “run and hide” from the aggressor. Even less official is the game NightCry (also known as Project Scissors). This kickstarter project looked to take the core game play of the earlier Clock Tower series and introduce it to a new generation of games.

In this concluding episode I recap on the highs and lows of the series. Happy Halloween everyone and thank you all for watching.
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Greetings and welcome to episode 6 of this special 6 part miniseries of Clock Tower. So far we’ve covered the chronological releases, pricing, Clock Tower, The First Fear, Clock Tower 2 and The Door of Fear, Ghost Head and Clock Tower 3. If you missed any of the series so far I recommend going back to watch it first. Don’t worry, I’ll wait here for you. So here we are once more looking at the Clock Tower series. By this point in time the Clock Tower series has become a mash-up of confusing titles, chronological curiosities and bizarre plot twists. After fewer sales than expected of Clock Tower 3 Capcom set about developing Clock Tower 4. It was a move that took an unexpected turn as it ended up as the game we know in the UK and US as Haunting Ground and Demento in Japan. The key elements of the game including stealth to avoid enemies were still here although this time the added element of a companion dog was added. At some point in the development it became clear that what had started as a Clock Tower game had now strayed far enough from the source material to become its own entity. Haunting Ground had been born.

Our protagonist Fiona wakes up in a castle dungeon after being involved in a car accident. After befriending her dog Hewie she sets out to explore the castle and escape. The opening scenes already suggest elements of what is to come as a rather large mentally challenged enemy called Debilitas stalks her. One of the legacy features from Clock Tower is the panic mode as well as the hiding abilities. What sets Haunting ground apart though is the interactions with Hewie. You will have to build up a relationship with the dog in order to issue commands and survive. It’s a really nice feature, frustrating at times but overall something a little bit different to enjoy. In terms of plot I won’t spoil anything here but I was pleasantly surprised. There was good build up, mystery, large reveals and of course some entertaining voice over.

For a UK copy of the game expect to pay around £15 and £25 for the Japanese release known as Demento. In the US be prepared to pay anywhere up to the $80 mark. This game came as a surprise hit in the US with horror fans and has inflated the price ever since. Clock Tower may not have any more official releases as a series but Haunting Ground is an excellent off-shoot of what began as a relatively obscure point and click horror game back in 1995. My advice would be to see this one as a standalone game and enjoy it for what it is. Sadly it’s not the grand re-birth of scissorman that many had hoped for. However, it is a really solid horror title and well worth the investment.

After watching this miniseries you may be interested to know what’s happening next in the world of Clock Tower. Well, we didn’t have to wait long. The much anticipated Night Cry aka Project Scissors has been released. Officially this is not a Clock Tower game, it’s more of a fan dedication with the support of a Kickstarter campaign. It’s back to the first 3D Clock Tower mechanics and general feel. The parts of the game I’ve seen I’ve enjoyed and pleased that there is a community looking to continue with this style of game. I haven’t personally got round to playing this title yet. So far it has been receiving mixed reviews but I will leave you as the viewers to go and check this one out.

As for collecting the main Clock Tower series, I’d like to add some final thoughts. Although difficult to collect due to the pricing, availability and just down right confusion of the game titles the Clock Tower series really is something distinct for horror game collectors to track down. Personally I’ve found researching the Clock Tower series interesting for a number of reasons. In one sense it’s sad that the Clock Tower brand seems to almost have been miss-managed over the years, the inconsistent titles, change in developer and availability by region have all undoubtedly hindered initial takup of the series by gamers.

Particularly here in the UK we are in the ridiculous situation of having just 2 official Clock Tower games. Clock Tower (which is actually a sequel) and Clock Tower 3. It’s no wonder that this side of the world you have to go out of your way to really get in to the series. I’m hoping that this miniseries has helped get you started on your journey in to the world of Clock Tower though. There’s so much more detail about the history and development of the games I sadly couldn’t include it all in this short series. I hope that you appreciate the general overview though. Anyone interested in the Clock Tower franchise will have great fun exploring its history though. I’ve personally enjoyed hunting down the Japanese exclusives and still hope one day to round off my collection with a boxed Super Famicom version should the price ever become realistically affordable.

In terms of the best entries in the series I’d have to go with The First Fear and also Clock Tower on the PS1. Overall I feel that these two titles best embody what the series means. They cover Jennifer’s story line, the initial scissorman legend, the hiding/panic mechanics, puzzle solving as well as engaging plots. As is so often the case some of these key elements were either lost or diluted in some of the later games.

As a spin-off it’s definitely worth tracking down Haunting Ground for the PS2. It manages to embody what was threatening about the first games whilst switching up the game play enough to create something new. It’s the reason I’ve included it in this miniseries and I see it as Capcom’s way of redeeming Clock Tower 3.

I’d also like to thank you the viewer for sticking with this mini-series. I appreciate that a 6 part special is quite a bit to get through so I’m very pleased that you’ve made the journey with me. I’d really like to get your feedback in the comments section what you think of the Clock Tower series. Your highs and lows of the series as well as your opinions on how to best collect this labyrinth of a gaming epic. Are you sticking with your region or reaching out to collect the Japanese editions?
Happy haunted collecting which ever region you’re in and thank you for enjoying the series so far.

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