Years ago, a series called Clock Tower appeared in Japan. In these Hifumi Kono games, players would follow a young woman as she dealt with some sort of homicidal maniac, attempted to manage various resources, found key items, and perhaps even discovered what was going on. While Creeping Terror, a Nintendo 3DS and PC game from Sushi Typhoon Games and Aksys, has nothing to do with Clock Tower, it often feels like it tries to pay tribute to the thriller that came before it.
Creeping Terror follows a group of teenagers. Arisa has been asked by her friend Emily and Emily’s brother, Bob, to help them with a video for Bob’s YouTube channel. A guy she has a crush on, Ken, decides to come along. The four head to a mansion in a forest that allegedly houses some sort of monster. As they go in to record Bob’s video, the worst happens. Arisa falls through the floor into some sort of cave. She now has to manage her health and cell phone battery while recovering journal entries that explain what is going on, avoiding hazards, finding necessary items, and avoiding some monster with a shovel who is out to get all of them.
Aside from Creeping Terror and Clock Tower sharing a genre, there are more things the two have in common. To start, it’s the protagonist. Arisa is a largely clueless young woman who has no idea what she has gotten herself involved in. Players have to manage two valuable stats for her. One is her health, which can plunge if she does something like trip, walk into bats, or encounter the monster I like to refer to as Shovel Man. The other is her phone’s battery power, as she needs to have a light on to discover and avoid some hazards or acquire some items. Unlike the Clock Tower heroines, terror isn’t an issue. Even when unsettling things happen, Arisa will be totally fine. However, like these heroines, all she can do when faced with Shovel Man is run and hide or maybe use a rock to temporarily distract him so she can get away.
The mysterious antagonist is another commonality. Clock Tower’s earliest installments had Scissor Man. (Later entries, like Clock Tower 3, offered an array of psychopaths.) Creeping Terror has Shovel Man. This maniac is determined to kill Arisa and her friends. But, he is like Scissor Man in that it is possible to hide from him, allow him to pass by, and then go about your way to advance the story until he appears again. There is something about knowing someone is around and could appear anywhere. That he is a supernatural force perhaps beyond your understanding and definitely beyond your strength. It adds to the game’s atmosphere.
However, there is a rather big difference. With Clock Tower, I always felt like my avatars were in immediate danger. Every encounter felt absolutely horrifying. It felt like the game got more challenging as you went along. Creeping Terror, on the other hand, feels rather easy. I had no problem finding chargers for the cell phone, which meant I could leave the phone’s flashlight on the whole time. And even if I had the light off, it was still rather easy to see around the darkened areas. I could easily see when I would need to turn it on to avoid things like rocks. As for Arisa’s health, it is incredibly easy to find food to help restore it. And if Arisa finds herself caught by unnatural enemies, players can button mash A to get away. The situation doesn’t feel as dire or terrifying in Creeping Terror.
Creeping Terror is a game for people who like the idea of knowing they are being hunted and chased, but also want to know that they probably aren’t in any real danger. It has the same sort of concept as the Clock Tower games. You are a young woman facing a possibly unstoppable horror and need to do your best to figure out what is going on and hide when necessary. Your foe is a terrifying being with an a memorable, yet rather ordinary, household item. While it is not difficult to find batteries for the heroine’s phone or keep her health up, the atmosphere is still there.
Creeping Terror is available for the Nintendo 3DS and PC. A Nintendo Switch port is in development.