So we all remember the fear and terror of the first Clock Tower game on the Super Famicom. Drawing many inspirations from a number of different horror films, such as the Argento classic 'Phenomena', the game Clock Tower was a very original idea. A point and click adventure game where the danger was constantly chasing after the protagonist in the form of a disfigured, scissor wielding madman. With no means of real defense or protection, the player was left to poke and search around for places to hide until the danger passes while trying to solve the mysteries of the game. This was the prototype of survival horror in a nutshell. Skip ahead a couple of years and we get an oddly named continuation of the story on PS1 called Clock Tower, and it's a nice addition to the series...but that's where things fall apart. Following that PS1 title there was a psuedo sequel released that was panned and ignored by most (because it was absolutely awful in every way), and finally followed up in 2003 by Clock Tower 3 which moved even further away from the setup of the original game by the inclusion of Bach, a reusable weapon to defend the protagonist, and finally an anime 'magic girl' ability to finish off the stalkers. Yeah, the series had pretty much reached it's end; going from a great start to survival horror to ending in a puddle of bile. Which brings us to what could be the spiritual successor to the series; Haunting Ground.
Made in 2005 by Capcom on the PS2, Haunting Ground was an attempt by Capcom to get the Clock Tower franchise back on track by getting back to the basics of what made Clock Tower work. A foreboding setting, a damsel in distress, and frightening creatures to menace our poor protagonist. It had plenty of interesting mechanics from the Clock Tower series while also including enough new mechanics to keep things fresh and different. That's not to say the game was not without it's problems; by this time on consoles Resident Evil 4 had just come out drawing pretty much any horror video game attention towards that and with it's strong emphasis leaving out the survival portion of 'survival horror' in lieu of going for more action, the defenseless nature of a helpless girl just did not draw people in. But personally, I think the game is still fun and tense to play (though there are portions of the fanservice and almost guro nature of the game that makes me incredibly uncomfortable), and I feel like it's worth showing off a good LP of the game for those that never got the chance to enjoy the game on your own. It's also funny to bring up that the director of the game, Kazuhiro Tsuchiya, later went on to be a producer for the screaming anime game classic 'Asura's Wrath' and that the scenario writer, Noboru Sugimura, wrote a number of horrible turds like 'Dino Crisis 3' and 'Resident Evil: Dead Aim'.
Now what's the plot of the story you might be asking; well, we play a mildly amnesiac girl who finds herself locked up in a mysterious castle in 'Not Italy' and needs to escape from a bizarre cadre of monsters in an attempt to stay alive. As to why she's there, or who these people are, or plenty of other questions...well we will be finding out soon enough. But that does bring up another very important series of points:
Do not spoil the plot of the game! Do not talk about any mechanics or enemies we haven't run into yet or any scares or possible deaths until we get to it in game!
Fiona is our intelligent, but somewhat helpless, protagonist who finds herself missing her memory while locked away in a rather morbid basement while a hulking man nearby proceeds to cook his dinner in a terrifying manner. After freeing herself and absconding to the surface, she finds herself in a strangely deserted castle where she begins to meet more and more strange individuals who seem to all have ulterior motives. What will become our of poor heroine as she attempts to outwit the danger coming from around every corner? We'll just have to wait and see.
Hewie is a mysterious pooch who accompanies Fiona in her journey through the castle. With the ability to protect Fiona, warn her of traps, find invisible items, and unlock doors, Hewie can indeed be a valuable asset to have. But like any good relationship with an animal, it has to be nurtured and allowed to grow using the in-game commands otherwise Hewie might ignore his new master or even worse, become aggressive towards Fiona and choose to attack her in the same way he would attack a stalker. But we'll make sure to treat him right, as he's about the only friendly face we're going to be seeing in the game.
Daniella is the mysterious maid that appears to Fiona once she first reaches the guest room. With her frigid and stiff demeanor, we start off unsure of what Daniella's intentions might be but she definitely seems under the control of some outside force which means that we'll need to keep a watchful eye on her if she shows up again. Also her name is never revealed directly in-game and is only ever stated in the game manual, so in case you were wondering if you missed it in-game...you didn't.
Debilitas is our first stalker of the game (stalkers are the bosses of the game who will be chasing around Fiona throughout the course of the game). Hulking, brutish, and a bit slow in the intelligence department; Debilitas does an amazing job of teaching the player how they should be playing the game...constantly running, constantly hiding instead of fighting, and being wary of the erratic behavior that the stalkers will exhibit. While initially he seems to merely posture towards Fiona, it doesn't take much for Debilitas to unleash his tremendous strength and lash out at Fiona (whom he sees as some replacement for his broken doll).
Riccardo is probably the most normal person we're introduced to at the start of the game, which isn't really a hard competition to win. Proclaiming himself the caretaker of the castle, he immediately informs Fiona of information she had lost during her amnesiac state and tells her that the castle is under her ownership. Sadly, the revealed information is too much for Fiona to handle and she passes out before Riccardo reveals anymore information. Will he see fit to continue to be helpful? What power does he have over Debilita? What does he want from Fiona? We'll find out soon enough as the story continues.
Fiona looks concerned as envisioned by Skogul
Cheese Bread shows us what the secret ingredient is...it's love
SystemLogoff made a pretty good mix of Daniella's voice and chase music
Skogul amazes us with what will sadly never be
Cheese Bread loves some Sailor Moon and so do I
Skogul shows us the many emotions of Daniella
Skogul and yokaiy show us that things get a little sketchy later
perochialjoe shows a beautiful rendition of the sweet love between two villains