Friday, March 5, 2010

Game Review: Scratches

 Desiring inspiration for his next book, recent author Michael Arthate buys a new three-house because, as we all know, every single writer is buried in money as soon as they’re published and they need something to spend it on. I’ll need to take a moment to seethe in jealousy before continuing.


Unfortunately for him, it’s a bit of a fixer-upper. The plumbing doesn’t work, the lights are broken, and there’s a weird scratching noise coming from the furnace. The house itself is in the middle of nowhere and the phone is at the mercy of storms-I mean, plot convenience. Oh, and did I mention there was a murder a few years ago?

Well, cliché-ridden plot aside, Scratches is actually a decent puzzle game. The puzzles range from average to challenging, with a great deal of clues and items provided at the very start. Of course, the one vital clue you need to progress the story is usually the hardest to find, requiring you to tear the house apart.

Michael has two phone buddies to help him with his problems. One is Jerry, who is useless and can’t be bothered to visit, and the other is Barbara his just a moment *seethe* secretary. (seriously, even Stephen King didn’t have this kind of money after his first book). I like Barbara. She may sound chipper, but I’m sure that whenever Michael asks her to sort through his fan mail she just rolls her eyes and goes back to her magazine. And Barbara is so useful, she actually mails one thing before disappearing from the plot entirely (no doubt spending the thousands Michael is throwing at her.)

Plot-wise, this game is pretty predictable. I’ll admit that this game is surprisingly suspenseful, especially after you realize that you’re not alone in the house. This game also earns strong points for design and music. Unfortunately, the actual scary moments in the game are few and far between, and are almost destroyed entirely by a serious graphics problem. During the ending of the game, the sound doesn’t match up with the actual action. At first I thought it was a problem on my computer, until I did some research and found it on more advanced ones. Speaking of the ending, there are actually two, depending on whether you bought the expansion or not. The first ending is satisfying. The second is that Michael is just crazy and the noise is being caused by rats. In retrospect, Michael should have probably called an exterminator first before trying Hindu purification rituals.

Final Grade: 2 ½ out of 5. Average. But hey, average is safe, right?

And yet again, we have a main character who doesn’t report any of this to the police.

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