On the Flip Side of Innovation – Sony Playstation – Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within – 1999

Title.jpgClock Tower II: The Struggle Within
Sony Playstation
Human Entertainment/Ascii Entertainment
Genre: Point-and-Click Survival Horror
1999

Horror movies and games share a lot of similarities in structure, especially when it comes to sequels. In horror films, you may have the same Final Girl and killer for a film or two before you have to move onto a completely new set of characters. Most likely, though, a franchise will try to keep up a similar style of horror and tone for its duration, shifting only when it becomes vital to keep the series fresh and interesting. In similar fashion to films, horror games usually try to stick to their guns until they become too repetitive.

The Clock Tower series had established itself as a tense slasher game. Jennifer Simpson was our Laurie Strode, Scissorman acting as our Michael Myers, hellbent on destroying her and the lives around her. Like the first Halloween film, Clock Tower: The First Fear was a dark and atmospheric endeavor while Clock Tower on the Playstation was more like the second film. There was more of an emphasis on action and the slasher aspect, but it still kept the players’ hearts in their chests.

Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within is our Halloween III.

The real difference between those two works, though, is that there is an audience who appreciates Halloween III for what it was- a failed attempt at turning the franchise into an anthology that worked fine if it was considered on its own merits sans the Halloween name tag. In all of my memory hearing about The Struggle Within, though, I hadn’t heard one good thing about the game. No one was singing a solo of unappreciated merits in the overwhelming chorus of vitriol against it.

As someone who enjoys singing solos about certain games of that sort, I had to finally complete the one game in the Clock Tower mythos I hadn’t yet and see for myself if there was anything worth salvaging.  Continue reading

Bringing Up the Average – PC – Final Exam – 2013

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Final Exam
PC
Mighty Rocket Studios/Focus Home Entertainment
2013
Genre: Action Platformer

Much like the most prolific horror series’ have, some games need reboots.  Castlevania saw one with Lords of Shadow in 2010, as did Silent Hill when 2009 brought us Shattered Memories.  On a less established scale, under-the-radar horror franchise, ObsCure, found itself requiring a reboot after Hydravision, the original developer of the series, had announced that it had closed its doors in 2012.  Shortly after, they corrected that they were rebranding as Mighty Rocket Studios.

Having marginal success with the ObsCure series and a few other games as Hydravision, the company decided to go in a different direction with the series by establishing Final Exam.  While there had been rumor that a third ObsCure game was in the pipeline, the game that was talked about and the game that Final Exam turned out to be were pretty different and initial reviews of Final Exam didn’t play well as the third game in the series (hence the unrelated title).

Given my mixed feelings between the first and second games in the ObsCure series, starting up Final Exam brought up some concerns: would I enjoy the game universe?  Would I just be mildly offended? Would I even finish if it followed in the second game’s footsteps?

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Turn Away from The Darkness – Playstation Portable – ObsCure: The Aftermath – 2009

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ObsCure: The Aftermath
Playstation Portable
Hydravision Entertainment/Ignition Entertainment
2009
Genre: Survival Horror

There are certain things that a horror movie needs to be effective, especially in the slasher genre.  First, there needs to be a discernible villain or danger; something that will strike fear into the viewer when it appears or is referenced by the characters.  Having a group of characters who are, for the most part, relatable and likable helps you want to root for the ‘heroes’ to survive and triumph over their circumstances.  Atmosphere is another element that cannot be underestimated, whether it is terrifying because of a lack of familiarity or because it is a familiar setting that has been invaded.

Cobbling together a survival horror game is the same way.  In 2005, Hydravision Entertainment released a game by the name of ObsCure, which was heavily influenced by 1990s horror films like The Faculty.  It introduced co-op horror in an effective way and made for a fun experience (which you can read my review of here, if you like).  Like any decent horror movie, it left the door open for the potential sequel, even if just a crack.  In 2008, ObsCure: The Aftermath hit the shelves for the Playstation 2, Wii, and Windows.  The next year, it hit the Playstation Portable, and in just the past few years, it arrived on Steam.

While ObsCure was a delightful horror romp with a few flaws here and there, did ObsCure: The Aftermath manage to capture the same magic that it’s progenitor created?  Let me save you the trouble:

No.  No it did not.

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