Clock Tower is the first entry in the Clock Tower series of Survival Horror video games. The plot features Jennifer Simpson, a teenager living in the fictional Granite Orphanage in Romsdalen, Norway. She and her friends (also orphans), Laura, Ann, and Lotte, are adopted by a wealthy recluse named Mr. Barrows, who lives in a mansion known as the Clock Tower, named after its most predominant feature.
The game immediately begins with Ms. Mary, an employee of Mr. Barrows, leading the four girls up towards the Barrows Mansion. She leaves them in the main foyer to go her employer that his new adoptive daughters have arrived and takes an oddly long time of it. After the girls begin to worry, Jennifer offers to go see what's taking them. However, no sooner does she leave the main foyer does one of the girls scream. Jennifer returns to find the room dark and abandoned. She begins explore the mansion in search of her friends, but soon finds herself hunted by a deformed, murderous little boy who wields a huge pair of scissors. The boy is Bobby Barrows, aka The Scissorman, who will be Jennifer's main stalker and tormentor for the rest of the game.
The game is well-known for its effective jump scares; every time you enter a room, there is a random chance you are either assaulted by Bobby or are faced with some environmental hazard. Sometimes, however, these events do not trigger straight away, or they might even not happen at all, which serves to very effectively build up the tension.
This game has examples of:
- Action Commands: The Panic button. If an enemy catches up to you, the button has to be pressed rapidly to escape death.
- Androcles' Lion: If Jennifer frees a crow she encounters while wandering the manor, then one of the better endings will involve a whole murder of them coming to her rescue.
- Anyone Can Die: Duh. In the S Ending, Jennifer can escape with either Laura or Anne, depending on her actions; Lotte, unfortunately, can't be saved. However, the canon ending is that only Jennifer survives.
- Ax-Crazy: A whole family of 'em!
- Bittersweet Ending: Every ending where Jennifer lives through the ordeal.
- Chekhov's Gun: See Androcles' Lion above.
- Creepy Child: Bobby the Scissorman, and Dan, his brother. Not that their mother was any better.
- Downer Ending: The two endings where Jennifer reaches the top and dies, and the two where she takes the car back to the orphanage.
- Feathered Fiend: The parrot in the cage you come across. Stay away from it if know what's good for you.I'll kill you! IKILLYOU! IKEELYOU!!
- Implacable Man: Bobby stalks Jennifer through the mansion and randomly appears every now and then to attempt to murder her. He cannot be defeated until near the end of the game; until then he can only be hindered at best.
- Interface Screw: When Jennifer's panic meter is blue, she's normal and can probably take a hit from most traps (not counting instant kill ones, or any member of the Burroughs family). As her panic meter changes color (from blue to yellow to orange to red), she becomes weaker. Once it's red, not only is she likely to die instantly from the different traps in the mansion, she also starts tripping when she runs. If Bobby is near when this happens...
- The Many Deaths of You: Oh, too many to list.
- Multiple Endings: Depending on whether or not you make Jennifer figure out the malicious intent of Mary, discover Laura or Anne dead, among others, you'll get one of 8 endings.
- Point of No Return: Once you enter the cave, you need to use perfume and a robe to pass a guard dog. The perfume wears off after you're past him, and there's only one bottle — your ending is set and you can only advance.
- Random Event: A core part of the gameplay and what serves to make the game so nerve-racking.
- Recurring Boss: After a certain point Bobby has a chance of randomly appearing in every room, and he can be quite hard to get away from again.
- Sanity Meter: We have a panic meter, in the form of Jennifer's portrait. It didn't do much except make her more likely to be killed by traps, cause her to trip more often, and flash when you should be mashing the panic button.
- Schmuck Bait: Playing the piano will most likely attract unwanted attention from you-know-who.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The player can have Jennifer escape the Barrows Mansion almost immediately by using the car in the garage. Jennifer will at first hesitate to drive away, being worried about her friends who are still in the house, but the player can prompt to her to just leave there and then. Needless to say, the endings that result from this aren't the happiest ones: In the first, Bobby is in the backseat. In the second (which happens after a friend is found horribly dead)... Bobby kills Jennifer a few days later.
- There is a third outcome to this scenario: Should Jennifer head for the car through the courtyard before Anne's death triggers and then leave the mansion with it, the credits will roll and no epilogue appears like in the previous two car endings implying that without ever coming face-to-face with Bobby, she managed to escape and left her friends behind to die. The game marks this as Ending D, though it far differs from the actual Ending D.
- Violation of Common Sense: In order to save one of the other girls and get the best ending, you have to ignore someone in danger. Specifically, when you hear a scream from outside in a hallway early in the game, looking out the window will show the girl falling from the second floor to her death. Do not look out the window, and she will inexplicably be unhurt.
- Weapon of Choice: Bobby's scissors.