Clock Tower 3 is a PlayStation 2 survival horror game and the fourth installment in the Clock Tower series. It was developed by Capcom Production Studio 3 and Sunsoft, and published by Capcom on December 12, 2002 in Japan, on March 18, 2003 in North America and on June 25, 2003 in Europe.
The story revolves around a girl named Alyssa Hamilton who seems to "time travel" to the past by entering realms. In these realms, she is hunted by psychopathic and sadistic serial killers. Along the way, she discovers dark truths about her familial history, and brings peace to tormented victims beyond the grave. The game is set in 2003 in London, England. During the game, Alyssa will explore a mansion, ruined city, concert hall, underground factory and sewers, cemetery, abandoned hospital, and a castle with a clock tower.
The plot is a side story loosely connected to the history of the Barrows/Burroughs family from Clock Tower: The First Fear and Clock Tower, through the perspective of the Hamilton family, and there are no references to Jennifer Simpson, Helen Maxwell, the incidents in Norway, etc. Because of nature of the self-contained story, Clock Tower 3 is a stand-alone installment and one does not need to play previous games in the series in order to comprehend Clock Tower 3.
Gameplay involves exploring and finding clues, while avoiding the serial killers who are stalking Alyssa, like a deadly game of hide-and-seek.
Alyssa Hamilton is a 14-year-old girl living at a boarding school. One day she receives a letter from her mother, Nancy, telling her to hide until after her 15th birthday. Alyssa defies her mother's wishes and returns to their home, which is a boarding house. Her mother is not there and the only person in the house is a shady man called The Dark Gentleman. He offers Alyssa cryptic warnings and clues as to her mother's fate. Alyssa is frightened, but is still determined to find out what happened to her mother. After finding a letter from her mother and a vial of holy water, her search leads her into her mother's room. After seeing what seems to be an illustration of the dark gentleman in a book, a piano begins to play wildly. Terrified, Alyssa dashes from the room and is transported back in time, to London, circa World War II, 1942, which Germany's Luftwaffe is bombing.
Alyssa begins to explore the ruins of the city. Her search leads her to a tailor shop, where she witnesses the gruesome murder of a young girl, May Norton. The crime is perpetrated by a mysterious man wielding a sledgehammer; he notices Alyssa, and begins an obsessed search for her. As Alyssa evades him, she runs into other angry ghosts; by returning particular items to each spirit, she is able to placate them and lay them to rest. She explores a concert hall, only to find May's ghost weeping while practicing the piano. Sledgehammer appears and May disappears, forcing Alyssa to survive his pursuit in the concert hall.
Eventually, Alyssa pieces together the mystery: May Norton, a 12-year-old piano-playing prodigy, was brutally murdered on Christmas Eve by a madman with a sledgehammer. While still exploring the tailor shop, Alyssa sees memories from the past; May's father, William, told her that he is going to war. May gave him a pocket watch as a reminder of his wife and May. While in battle, William was hit by an explosion and lands on a row of barb wire, dying instantly. Alyssa decides to free May's spirit which is trapped on earth by giving her the pocket watch.
On her way back to the concert hall, she is confronted by the killer. Her vial of holy water becomes a longbow, and she destroys the villain in a shower of golden light. Alyssa gives the pocket watch to May's spirit, and Alyssa decides to reveal the truth of William's death. May cries, but Alyssa tries to comfort her. Alyssa tells May to keep practicing the piano as it would make her father happy. May proceeds to play the piano once more. After a short while, William's spirit comes back to May. The two thank Alyssa before ascending into the afterlife. At that moment, Alyssa faints. She wakes up in her bedroom, lying on the bed, believing it was a dream.
Alyssa's childhood friend, Dennis Owen, knocks on the window while hanging on to the windowsill. An annoyed Alyssa helps him up, wondering why he would try to enter her residence through a window. Dennis reveals he contacted Nancy who told him to give Alyssa the key to her grandfather's room if Nancy was not back in time. The two decide to search the house for clues.
While searching through her grandfather's room, she learns about a surprising secret in her family. The girls in her lineage are known as "Rooders", young women with the supernatural ability to communicate with the dead. She also learns of a ferocious dark power-called an "Entity", which can infect certain humans and drive them to acts of crazed murder. The agony and despair of the souls of the murderer's victims feeds their dark power, and grants the villain - now known as a "Subordinate" - immortality. The Rooders are fated to find and free those tortured souls, breaking the Subordinate's magic and allowing them to be destroyed. These powers peak at the age of fifteen, and wane afterward; therefore, the women in Alyssa's family marry young and quickly bear a daughter. Alyssa realizes that she is a Rooder, and that Sledgehammer was a Subordinate, feeding off of young May's soul.
While exploring the house, Alyssa finds a weird occult-like room hidden in her mother's room. Using a sigil called a Portal Square, she moves back in time again to 1963. She enters a house with an elderly woman, Dorothy Rand, and her son, Albert Rand. While approaching Dorothy, she realizes both of them are blind and their ghosts seem to be endlessly searching for each other. Alyssa encounters a memory where the man and his mother are murdered viciously by a killer with sulfuric acid. During the struggle, the shawl that Albert made for Dorothy drops into a sewer. Files reveal that the murderer, known as the Corroder, claimed to be a distant relative of the Rands - it is unknown if this is true. Alyssa finds the shawl and destroys Corroder, freeing the Rands. Also in this area, Alyssa briefly seems to see her mother who disappears.
Upon returning home, Alyssa begins to wonder why her mother wanted her to stay away. Soon, she realizes that the mysterious "Dark Gentleman" hopes to gain immortality by becoming an Entity himself, using the Ritual of Engagement. This dark ritual requires the "heart of a Rooder". When the Clock Tower begins to form on top of the Burroughs Castle, Alyssa is sent to the top of the tower to confront the Dark Gentlemen. He throws her down the tower to "Hell", which resembles an underground factory. Regaining consciousness, she confronts another Subordinate, the Chopper.
After temporarily escaping from him, Alyssa somehow finds a route leading to what appears to be her house but from the time she was a baby. Alyssa views a memory from her infancy of her mother promising to give her an ancestral clover necklace when she is older. Hearing a scream from the stair balcony, Alyssa runs to find her father Philip struggling against her grandfather, Dick. Her father is thrown off the balcony onto an axe head, splitting his head in half. Alyssa denies that her grandfather truly meant to kill her father and engages into a battle with the Chopper, but fails to kill him and, after being engulfed by a strange black pool, is sent to a graveyard.
Once there, she meets the spirits of other Rooders who lost battles against the Subordinates. Alyssa discovers backstory on the Chopper which revealed he was born with a deformity which made women reject and even bully him, causing him to kill women. Alyssa fights the Chopper again and, with the help from the Rooder spirits, is able to vanquish him. The Rooder spirits thank Alyssa. Alyssa sees her mother, although she fades like a ghost which Alyssa does not see. Nancy is abducted by the Dark Gentleman and they disappear. Alyssa is warped in time once more to the home of the mysterious Darcy Burroughs, the titular Clock Tower.
Obsessed with the secrets of the Entities and Subordinates, Burroughs hires the homicidal twins, Scissorman Ralph and Scissorwoman Jemima, to murder for him. Burroughs plotted to become an Entity himself; however, his daughter Annabel died on the eve of her fifteenth birthday, ruining his plan and driving him insane, leading him to kill his wife Natalya. He died crushed in the Clock Tower's gears, swearing revenge. Alyssa reunites with Dennis and they find themselves transported to a strange forest. They wind up on the city streets; Dennis sees his sister Linda in a hospital, however, Linda transforms into Jemima and the twins abduct Dennis. Alyssa sets out to save him.
After evading the twins, Alyssa finds a Portal Square to the castle, where she sees her grandfather in a strange trance. Eventually, with the help of Dennis, Alyssa overcomes the twins. Alyssa discovers that the villain behind her mother's disappearance is her own grandfather, who lived with the pair since Alyssa was a child, and performed extensive research on the Rooder powers. However, he was descended from Burroughs, and was eventually driven insane by the connections between his and his ancestor's situations, and allowed Burroughs' evil spirit to fuse with him. The Dark Gentleman tells Alyssa that if she wants to save her mother, she must come to the top of the clock tower.
On the top of the clock tower, Alyssa finds her grandfather Dick who offers Alyssa to become one with him. Alyssa declines, causing him to transform into Burroughs. Burroughs destroys Alyssa's mother, who was somehow transformed into a statue, and plots to fulfill Dick's plan with Alyssa's heart. Burroughs telepathically straps Alyssa onto an altar. Dennis rescues Alyssa, allowing her to fight Burroughs, although he ends up being shoved off by clock tower by Burroughs. Nancy's spirit also transfers what is left of her own Rooder power into Alyssa, granting her the strength to destroy her grandfather and Burroughs.
After Alyssa defeats him by piercing him and pushing him off the clock tower, she immediately reunites with her revived mother. The tower then collapses and the evil spell of the Subordinates is permanently lifted. Alyssa awakens in a field of clovers. Clutching her clover pendant, she runs over to hug Dennis nearby. Smiling, she says, "Mum, we did it! We did it, Mum!"
Whenever Alyssa comes across a spirit, which are victims of the serial killers, it should have a corpse near it. These ghosts remain on Earth because they are missing a Sentimental Item. Sentimental Items can vary, from Teddy Bears to Engagement Rings and whenever Alyssa returns the item to the spirit, it will be healed and move on, leaving behind an item or important piece of info.
The only weapon Alyssa is armed with is Holy Water from her Sacred Bottle, which is of limited use and can remove blue crests on doors, stun enemies and activate holy portals. The only way to refill the holy water vial is to find a Lions Fountain, or a jar of it. This is the most invaluable piece of equipment Alyssa will get her hands on with the exception of the Sacred Bow. When pressing Triangle, Alyssa will throw a dose in an arch ahead of her. It will stun enemies reaching contact with the splash.
Stalkers and panic
Clock Tower 3 has a fear mechanic called Panic, which differs from how it was used in past games. If Alyssa feels scared or nervous or sees something frightening and disturbing, especially when a stalker is chasing her, the Panic Meter at the top left of the screen will increase. The presence/attack of an enemy and lunar moths contribute to Alyssa's Panic Meter. The controller will also vibrate to Alyssa's heartbeat, and Alyssa will begin to stumble and trip on the floor.
When the Panic Meter is full, Alyssa will scream and enter panic mode. For a few seconds, Alyssa's vision blurs and she stumbles around frantically while flailing her arms, though the player can still partially control her movement. As a fight-or-flight response, she is likely to freeze in her tracks as well, shaking and breathing uncontrollably, and the player can wiggle the analog sticks to unfreeze her. The player must flee from the stalker long enough or use Lavender Water to get her out of panic mode. Alyssa also cannot use Holy Water while in panic. The player may also use an Invisibility Band to temporarily escape the stalker.
If Alyssa is attacked even once while she's still in her panic mode, she will die instantly and the game will end. However, if the player has Sigil Stones in their inventory, they will give Alyssa an extra chance. When a Sigil Stone is used, a purple glow can be seen around Alyssa.
Hiding and stealth
While Alyssa is running away from a serial killer, she may find a hiding spot indicated by a swirling sigil. If Alyssa can manage to reach one of these spots before an enemy can get their hands on her, then she can stay in these spots until the killer has left the area. However, being in a hiding spot does not mean that Alyssa is safe. Sometimes killers can still find her because if the killer is snooping around the immediate area of the hiding spot then the Panic Meter will still increase and if it fills up then Alyssa will scream and reveal her hiding spot, alerting any enemies nearby.
Some hiding places are unmarked; for example, Alyssa can crouch and hide behind lamp posts or tables - anything that is obscured from the stalker's perspective and part of their blind spot. There are also some hiding spots known as Evade Points which can only be used once.
There is a small element of stealth integrated. Interacting with some items causes big bangs or loud noise. These noises may alert the stalker, and they may come after Alyssa. Some are very obvious, like cans on the floor, while some are traps set by the killer. Alyssa's footsteps attract noise, so in some situations, it is better to crawl or slowly walk away rather than run.
Once the Sentimental Item belonging to the greater Spirits whose misery is powering the level's killer is found, Alyssa gains the power to face off against the killer in battle, using a divine Sacred Bow and arrows.
Pressing triangle will make Alyssa shoot an arrow. The longer the player holds the button to charge, the more powerful an effect the arrow will have on the killer. Using fully charged arrows, Alyssa can pin them to the ground with golden chains of light. After three chains are placed, Alyssa will launch a final arrow high into the air, which will then turn into a massive Rooder attack. This does a lot of damage, and may kill the enemy. Some of these attacks may not defeat powerful enemies, and the sequence may need to be performed more than once.
Alyssa may find special arrows throughout her journey which are very helpful in boss battles, although it is recommended to save as many as possible for later bosses if the player can, especially the final one. Green Repellant Arrows do damage and knock the enemy back, giving Alyssa some time to run back a bit and charge a golden arrow up. Red Binding Arrows are equivalent to the charged up golden arrows, and have the same effect. They bind the enemy with one golden chain. To use these arrows, press the R1 button.
After finishing the game, the player is presented with a mysterious "Rooder Points" score, which seems to have no effect on anything and simply exists for comparison and bragging rights. Using items decreases the amount of points. For every Invisibility Band/Sigil Stone/Lavender Water/Arrow used, 10,000 points are subtracted from the final score. It is also theorized that the number of spirits saved and amount of times Alyssa panics affects it but this is uncertain.
After the player has completed Clock Tower 3, there are a number of new options:
- There is a new option on the Title Screen called Theater Mode. The player can view every cutscene and also production art. To access the art gallery, press R1 when in the cinema viewer.
- A Wardrobe Key will be in the inventory to unlock the wardrobe in Alyssa's room and allow her to wear costumes. In the North American version, the costumes consist of blue cowgirl outfit, the Rooder toga, a set of roman armor, a black and rather revealing club type outfit, and Alyssa's standard school uniform.
- Clear Mode is a more difficult version of the game where enemies have more powerful weapons and Alyssa's panic goes to full when surprised.
- Main article: Clock Tower 3 Original Soundtrack
Clock Tower 3 Original Soundtrack was released January 22, 2003 in Japan and contains music from Clock Tower 3. The soundtrack was composed by Cozy Kubo, Norihito Kudo and Reiji Matsumoto.
The game also features the piano composition "Fantaisie-Impromptu" by Frédéric Chopin.
Clock Tower 3 received mixed but generally positive reviews. It was praised for its good graphics at the time and unique haunting soundtrack, as well as many of the game's horror elements and atmosphere.
Clock Tower 3 is the first Clock Tower game with actually decent detailed graphics, and as a result, some of the game's more "graphic content" was upsetting and disturbing for some players -- although the game is not particularly overly gorey. Some of the game's disturbing scenes include a child being mauled to death with a hammer, two victims screaming in horror as they are being dumped in a container of sulfuric acid and being sprayed with sulfuric acid, and Alyssa's father being axed in the head.
Some reviewers noted the game has a wild storyline and characters, and felt that the game has a wonky horror tone. For example, there's a scene where Alyssa shoves Sledgehammer outside May's room and he falls on the floor too easily (if the player stays by him, he doesn't stand up and continue to chase her), a scene where Alyssa and Dennis crawl across her room, perhaps the entirety of Dennis Owen in general, an optional scene where Corroder is knocked out by a bathroom door, the designs of Corroder and the Scissor Twins, etc. Some complained that the villains felt "cartoonish" and overused quotes ("Alyssa!" "Ahh, hot hot hot!" "Nice trick!" "Snippity snap!" "Slice and dice!") There are also the scenes of Alyssa's bow transforming, and fans have dubbed her a "magical girl" akin to Sailor Moon. The first magic bow fight often catches players off-guard, leading to an oddly jarring tone, especially since it occurs soon after a tragic scene of a girl losing her father in World War II.
Some reviewers found the gameplay to be too difficult, feeling that Alyssa can die too easily. The game lacks any sort of easy mode, only "Normal" and "Clear Mode" (which is essentially "hard").
Clock Tower 3 is the first Clock Tower game to not feature multiple endings, thus the game is much more linear than previous installments which, in turn, affects the game's replay value. Asides from a harder mode, the game's only unlockables include costumes and a theater mode/art gallery.
The game draws more inspiration from "fantasy" elements such as time traveling, Rooders and Entities. Although it can be argued that previous Clock Tower games were supernatural, they are heavily present in Clock Tower 3. While previous protagonists had to use their wits in order to evade stalkers, Alyssa can sprinkle holy water, turn invisible, and use Sigil Stones as "extra lives". She can also use a magical bow and arrows during boss battles, which can be seen as "unrealistic" in a slasher-type game where the protagonist is a usually a disempowered ordinary human who is always vulnerable to danger.
Hifumi Kono commented, "I was not involved in Clock Tower 3 at all. So whether it is good or bad, I shouldn't judge. However, it is true that there are differences in it and what I have pictured for Clock Tower. Besides I think what makes Clock Tower special is that the main character is just an ordinary girl with no special powers to fight. Also, I admit that the newly assigned Burrows family set in 3 is different than that which I had envisioned."
He also commented, "I was asked to help with Clock Tower 3, but I had to turn it down since I was already busy with Steel Battalion's production."
There is currently no word of an HD remaster of Clock Tower 3 from Capcom, however, Capcom stated that they are planning more HD remasters.
The only way to play Clock Tower 3 in HD is to use a PlayStation 2 emulator (PCSX2) and a widescreen patch. However, there are minor visual glitches:
- When Alyssa screams when she enters panic mode, the screen will be white for two seconds, instead of becoming inverted. This can be fixed in software mode (F9), but then the game is no longer in HD.
- FMVs are slightly darker than they should be, giving them a "washed out" look -- this is also fixed in software mode.
- Some shadows may be glitched or missing in 3D11. They can be enabled in 3D9.
- According to Hifumi Kono, he was developing his own concept for Clock Tower 3 before Human Entertainment folded and the copyright was bought by Sunsoft.
- This is the first game in the series to feature direct control over the protagonist's movement, followed by Haunting Ground.
- In the beginning of the game, Alyssa finds a statue cry blood. This may be a reference to Clock Tower, as a statue may also cry blood.
- The piano music, Fantaisie-Impromptu, also plays on the piano in Ashley Tate's room in Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within, which is likely what inspired it to appear in Clock Tower 3.