Sunday, September 30, 2018

A few thoughts on Creeping Terror (3DS) now that I've played and finished it

When Sushi Typhoon Games unveiled Creeping Terror in late 2016, I was stoked. A 3DS title inspired by the classic survival-horror game, Clock Tower? Sign me up!

Unfortunately, Creeping Terror didn't hit the North American 3DS eShop until Halloween day last year. For me, that was at least 24 hours too late. I wanted to play it in the lead-up to the holiday, not afterward.

So, I passed on it--with the intention of returning to it in advance of this All Hallows' Eve.

Of course, I completely forgot about Creeping Terror shortly after its release. Thankfully, an acquaintance reminded me of it a couple of weeks ago via an Instagram post.

In rapid succession, I bought, downloaded, and started playing the game. And after a little more than five hours (spread over seven or so days), I finished it, too.

What's my opinion of Creeping Terror given that experience? Here are a few thoughts:

If you've been looking for a "new" Clock Tower, you've got one in Creeping Terror--Clock Tower creator Hifumi Kono had nothing to do with Creeping Terror, but it can sure seem like he did when you're playing it. Not only does this 3DS title and Kono's Super Famicom standout have the same vibe, but the two games share a number of other traits as well. For starters, they look a lot a like--despite the fact that Clock Tower's claustrophobic world is crafted using sprites while Creeping Terror's is made up of polygons. Their gameplay is remarkably similar, too, though the 3DS title's is quite a bit more user-friendly. (Clock Tower is a old-school point-and-click affair, while in Creeping Terror you move the main character with the system's circle pad and interact with your surroundings with its face buttons.) All in all, Creeping Terror feels like a modern Clock Tower in most respects, which is just what I was hoping for when I bought it.

Unfortunately, Creeping Terror's protagonist is just as slow as her Clock Tower counterpart--The developers who brought Creeping Terror to life made a lot of improvements to the Clock Tower "mold" while doing so. That's not to say what they produced is the absolute best side-scrolling survival-horror game to see the light of day. For that to be true, its main character wouldn't move like she lacks leg muscles. The run button helps, but only a bit. (And even it becomes almost useless when an enemy starts chasing you.) Oh, well, it adds to the tension--even if artificially.

Every character besides the protagonist is an idiot--That's par for the course in slasher films, right?  And it's probably par for the course in slasher games, too. (I say probably because I've experienced far fewer of the latter than the former.) Still, Creeping Terror's cast seems especially dumb. They're constantly suggesting you split up or otherwise unnecessarily put yourselves in danger. I'm sure some of this is tied to keeping the gameplay focused on the protagonist, but I'm also sure it could've been handled in a far more elegant fashion.

Creeping Terror doesn't feature much music, but what it does feature is more than fitting--First of all, I've got to say I like that playing this game is a predominantly silent experience. Most of the time, all you hear are ambient noises, like creaking floors or dripping water. (Or the Mario-fireball-esque "ploink" that sounds whenever you turn on or off your phone's flashlight app.) Actual music only enters the picture right as one of Creeping Terror's antagonists are about to arrive on the scene. Believe me when I say the tune's not only fitting, but mighty effective in getting your attention (and in getting you to haul ass to safety).

The localization is disappointingly stilted--No offense to the person or people who handled Creeping Terror's localization. I know this work is tough. That said, the English text in the North American release of the game is pretty stiff. It almost feels like a "first pass"--like with a little massaging, it could've come across as a lot more natural. Don't worry, it's not so bad it'll make you drop the game; it's mostly just awkward.

How many items does a stranded school girl really need?--Creeping Terror's protagonist only has enough room in her jacket--or wherever she stuffs all the things she finds lying about the game's environment--for six items. That doesn't sound like much, but don't worry; it's plenty. After all, you seemingly come across a candy bar (eat it and you restore a bit of stamina--important when you're running from an enemy) or a portable phone charger in every other room. If your playthrough is anything like mine, it won't take you long before you barely even notice their existence. Which is a shame, as it keeps Creeping Terror from being a thoroughly terrifying engagement.

If you like making use of your system's 3D abilities, crank up its depth slider while playing Creeping Terror--I rarely play 3DS titles in 3D. Doing so usually either brings on a migraine, or makes me feel like I'm about to get one. That said, I made an exception for Creeping Terror after giving that aspect a try. Not only did it help immerse me into the game, but it also helped me see the on-screen action. (Most of Creeping Terror's set pieces are eye-strainingly dark. Switching to 3D mode makes them a little less so.)

See also: 'five things that made it really easy for me to put more than 60 hours into The Alliance Alive' and 'five reasons I've fallen head over heels in love with Sushi Striker'

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