Publisher: Got Game Entertainment
Developer: Nucleosys Digital Studio
N Amer - 05/23/2007
Scratches: Director's Cut Review
Scratches is an adventure game that was released last year. It received mostly good reviews, and has now been re-released as Scratches: Director’s Cut with updated graphics, a new sound-track, a new alternate ending and a new chapter. I haven’t played the original game, so won’t be able to compare this new edition against the old. This review is solely of the revised game. The review of the original game can be read here.
Scratches begins as any typical adventure game, but has less of an introduction than most. The story set-up is minimal, but a lot of the story is explained during the game itself. You are a horror writer named Michael, who has decided to stay in an old house in England, which has been uninhabited for many years. As is the way with horror stories, there is a very good reason for this.
Gameplay begins with Michael parked outside the old house in the dark. Pretty much all of the game is played in the dark, which makes it bit difficult to see all the things in each scene. I would advise turning up the brightness settings on your monitor, or you may miss something important. This is a traditional point-n-click adventure game with inventory-based puzzles. No sliders, no mazes, and no mechanical puzzles. Nope, just click on everything in each location and if it’s needed later, Michael will keep it in his inventory. The good news is that there aren’t any useless inventory objects to obfuscate; the bad news is that sometimes serious backtracking will have to take place if any necessary items are missed. The only answer is to click on everything.
The plot is presented in a series of writings and photographs, combined with other methods such as the use of narrative comments on items and spooky sounds and music. Unlike some adventure games, the story is well-paced and dramatic, and is presented in such a manner as to always be just the right amount of information to keep the player’s attention. From the beginning, the story grabs interest by an intriguing tale of a mysterious and barbaric tribe in Africa, as detailed in an old journal. This tribe apparently was an obscure group of people that only appeared publically every so many years, and even locals didn’t know much about them, other than they were best avoided. An eyewitness account of this tribe’s activities from the journal writer is creepy in the extreme.
According to the game box, Scratches has received a sound and graphics face lift. I can’t answer as to what it looked and sounded like before, but the current edition is good on both fronts. The music and sound effects are incorporated exceptionally well and definitely deliver on the scare factor. The sound effects complement the story, and are accurate. The musical score is great, and also fits the game’s theme perfectly.
Movement is accomplished by clicking the mouse icon, which is a hand. This movement can be free-panning, or can be partially fixed with a panning movement accomplished by moving the mouse to the edges of the screen. I prefer the fixed movement, as having the screen move around constantly causes me to experience slight motion-sickness. Each scene is static. The interface is extremely simple and only requires right-clicking the mouse to bring up the inventory items. Hitting the Esc key brings up the main menu.
As stated before, the story and general atmosphere of the game is better than many adventure games of recent days. The puzzles are mostly logical and complement the plot points, and also serve to keep interest high. It’s a pretty scary game, especially when played in the dark at night. The additional chapter at the end takes place a few years after the initial game events, and is interesting, albeit short. It’s tough to say whether players who have already played the game should get this new edition or not. The price is right at $20, so if someone really loved the game, I guess the alternative ending and new chapter would add enough benefit to make a new purchase worthwhile. For new players, the game is indeed worthy of its hire.
Review Scoring Details for Scratches: Director's Cut
This is an enjoyable and spooky adventure game. However, it suffers a little from a lack of variety in the puzzles and the confinement to a few set locations in the house and grounds. Different types of puzzles and more locations would improve the experience.
Everything looks just as it should in this old, decrepit and dirty house. Dark and depressing.
The music does a great job of adding to the general horror and thrill of the story. It’s also good in that the scenes can be dull at times, and the music helps keep interest during the necessary back-tracking.
The gameplay isn’t very hard, and thankfully doesn’t have any sliding puzzles.
Not much new here, but the presentation is good.
For those who like thrilling adventure games, this is just the ticket. It’s better than a lot of the lame adventure games that have been released lately, and will deliver on the scare department. The puzzles are interesting, although they could be more varied. It’s a matter of opinion whether adding the new chapter makes a second purchase desirable, but that is up to the player to decide. For those who haven’t played Scratches yet, this game is a sure bet at the price.