Scratches Review

Posted by: Bruce Fielder

Scratches Review - 03/20/06 07:25 PM

My review of this atmospheric game won't be as in depth as Inferno's. He did an excellent job in giving details and subjective views of the game.

The main reason I'm putting in my two cents worth is because Scratches was the first new adventure/suspense game I've played in quite a while. I was disappointed in the newer games I played over the last few months and I began to collect and play the older "classic" adventure games: Amber, 7th Guest, Tex Murphy Overseer & Under a Killing Moon, Reah and JourneyMan Trilogy games just to name a few. When I saw Scratches' demo, I was immediately reminded of the level of fright I experienced when I played DarkFall and was really looking forward to playing it.

Overall, I'd give Scratches a solid "B" and maybe I can be convinced it is a "B+". I liked the fact that the story took place in one fairly confined setting: the house and the three outlying buildings. The atmosphere and setting is first rate in design, graphic looks and overall execution. The game played flawlessly on my HP laptop running XP Pro and having a 16MB video card - - playing glitch free is a major plus for the game in my opinion.

While I enjoyed it overall and I think it is a fine first effort by the game designer and programmer (I particularly liked the music in it), I think the game fell down somewhat in the fact that the sequences and the things you could do or not do depended on the "time of day or night" that was then occuring.

For instance, near the end of the game, you must use a shadow as a major clue. But, even though you know what must be done, you cannot accomplish the task until 4pm of the final day when the shadow is at it's most detailed. And before you can get the time to advance to 4pm, you must do two other steps involving the main character's car.

There were a few other instances where the time, represented on a grandfather clock, had to be observed but the sequence described above was the most irritating to me - - and to several other players judging by the posts in the Hints section. I believe that the game would've been more enjoyable if I could've accomplished what I knew needed to be done at the time I realized it versus having to "wait" until the game time was arrived at.

Still, the game was better than average but, in my opinion, not equal to Jonathan Boakes' DarkFall, The Journal, or DarkFall 1 as it's also called.
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Scratches Review - 03/20/06 07:46 PM

Bruce, thanks for your thoughts on this game. I have it, but have not played it yet--so will have to wait to see if I agree with you or with Inferno or fall somewhere in between. wave
Posted by: Becky

Re: Scratches Review - 03/22/06 05:21 AM

Bruce -- interesting comments! It's a good idea to compare the game to Dark Fall, which has (IMO) become a standard in the genre. thumbsup
Posted by: InlandAZ

Re: Scratches Review - 03/22/06 11:28 PM

I think the game fell down somewhat in the fact that the sequences and the things you could do or not do depended on the "time of day or night" that was then occuring.
I actually enjoy this in a game - take The Black Mirror for example, several objects were obviously intended to be used in the game - but no interaction was possible until you discovered what it was to be used for. Several of the objects (and their related puzzles) seemed to follow this same approach in Scratches. Reading specific news print for example, could only be accomplished when you knew what to look for.

Much like the Watchmaker, another time based game - the time of day does not change until specific tasks are completed (which was as simple as uncovering a new clue).

All in all I think it was a job well done. I hope we see more of them.
Posted by: Bruce Fielder

Re: Scratches Review - 03/23/06 10:48 AM

Thanks for the info re Watchmaker. I found that game for $2 at EB Games in the used games area and intend to play it next.
Posted by: Urabeth

Re: Scratches Review - 04/11/06 04:58 PM

I'm almost finished with the game and I can't wait for it to end. I think it's boring. There hasn't been one puzzle to solve yet and the game has crashed 3 times so far. I've done nothing but walk around in this old house and talk on the phone to a guy named Jerry. There is nothing scary or fun about this game. Sorry I bought it.
Posted by: starlight

Re: Scratches Review - 04/27/06 09:53 PM

I played the game and i think it was scary frown frown blush laugh
Posted by: Dineke

Re: Scratches Review - 05/15/06 01:31 PM

I enjoyed scratches.
A lot of walking around though, but thats allright. It was sure mysterious and yes, some scary effects, but the story was interesting.
While playing, i felt the embiance of Darkfall and Lights out. And those games i liked as well.
Posted by: patchman

Re: Scratches Review - 10/02/06 04:52 PM

Originally posted by Urabeth:
I'm almost finished with the game and I can't wait for it to end. I think it's boring. There hasn't been one puzzle to solve yet and the game has crashed 3 times so far. I've done nothing but walk around in this old house and talk on the phone to a guy named Jerry. There is nothing scary or fun about this game. Sorry I bought it.
I know this reply is a little late but here it goes....Urabeth i finished the game and found it very well done , ...But I can't understand how you say your "Almost finished" and have not come across not one puzzle. Let me assure you there are plenty of "Puzzles",... keys to found, oil for lamp to be located, secret room entrances, wall safe...are just a couple.The first day has several puzzzles.<span class="spoiler_containter"><span class="spoiler_wording">Click Here For A Spoiler</span><span class="spoiler_text">There is a key in the hallway but you can't get it until you have seen something that reveals it. there is a fuse box that has to be fixed. </span></span>The story is the real star, reading newpapers and personal notes that are very eerie. Music & ambience sounds are top notch. So keep at it, play it at night with sound turned up. I think you will get a chill down your spine...well at least i did....One more thing this site has a patch for the game which may help with the crashing. ..I hoped this helped, well somebody....Patchman
Posted by: Becky

Re: Scratches Review - 10/02/06 06:08 PM

Hello patchman and welcome to GameBoomers! thumbsup
Posted by: Becky

Re: Scratches Review - 10/08/06 08:19 AM

Congratulations Bruce Fielder -- I just noticed that 1000 people have read your review!
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Scratches Review - 10/08/06 08:45 AM

Outstanding bravo
Posted by: Mad

Re: Scratches Review - 10/09/06 11:07 PM

Hi smile

And another one has just read it !! thumbsup


Mad wave
Posted by: MsMercury

Re: Scratches Review - 10/10/06 07:51 AM

Nice review Bruce! Thanks bravo

I really enjoyed playing this game.

Mary wave
Posted by: Sierra Rat

Re: Scratches Review - 10/11/06 11:02 AM

To me this game was about as frightening as a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Have you ever read a book where you keep thinking, "this has got to get better," but is never does and the ending leaves you thinking, "huh, what was that all about?" That, in essence, is this game.

To be fair, some may enjoy this game and to give you perspective, games that I liked are: Black Mirror, Syberia I & II, and The Longest Journey; games I disliked are: Dark Fall and The Omega Stone.

One final word of warning, if you have a computer using a Pentium 4 with Hyper-Threading technology, you will need to install a patch from the Nucleosys website. Failure to do this will cause the game to lock-up when you least want it to. Install this patch BEFORE you play the game. There is a small warning in the description of the patch download that says, "please note that any current savegames are not supported." This means that if you install the patch after you have saved any of your game plays, you will lose all of them and have to start the game over (more tedium)!
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Scratches Review - 10/11/06 11:15 AM

Sierra, the one thing that can be depended on in gaming is what one gamer loves, another finds boring.

Your list of games that you like and dislike is a big help. I like all the games you do, but also like the ones you dislike. I loved Dark Fall.

I haven't yet played this one, but I'm really looking forward to it.

Thanks for the patch info. I'm pretty sure my computer will be one which will need patching.

Was there just not enough happening in the game to keep your interest? Or were you perhaps expecting a different sort of game?
Posted by: Sierra Rat

Re: Scratches Review - 10/13/06 06:51 PM

Looney4labs, I guess I was expecting a different kind of game, maybe more like Black Mirror. I think I need games with more inter-action with other people, rather than just objects in the house and a few phone calls. I hope you do enjoy the game, I know others have. Once you have played it, let me know your opinion.

Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Scratches Review - 10/13/06 07:42 PM

Thanks, Jack.

I always love to hear others opinions and the reasons why.

It will probably be awhile til I get to play it, but I will try to remember to come back and let you know what I thought about it.

Posted by: NJMysteryMan

Re: Scratches Review - 10/16/06 11:35 PM

Greetings All!

First off, nice review. I've been sitting on "Scratches" for a few months, now. We just got a new PC and the game runs smoothly. I've just finally, after a few days of realtime, gotten to my second day in the game. I'm really enjoying it. Yes, it is a bit slow and not much interaction, but I enjoy being able to take my time and explore the house as I want to. What's more, I find this game is like watching "The Blair Witch Project," as it seems you either love it or hate it. Like the movie, I notice how the game builds up suspense, without you even realizing it. Here I am, in the dark with my headphones on, exploring a dusty old house at my leisure. Sure there's been a past murder, and some strange unexplained things, but that's all in the past, right? As I moved through day one, I realized "wait a minute...I'm stuck in an old house, miles from anywhere, and still no power? I'm going to have to spend the night in the dark?" And after going to bed, only to be woken up at night, imagine my horror when I realized I'd have to go downstairs, to investigate, IN THE DARK! Not a lot has happened but you realize playing this game that you tend to scare yourself. Each time a door opens I always hold my breath, waiting to see what is going to be on the other side. At one point I took the headphones off because I was so afraid something was gonna get me. I'll let you all know how I feel when I finish the game...but this may take awhile. So far, enjoying the journey...and feeling a little uneasy! think
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Scratches Review - 10/17/06 08:34 AM

Thanks, NJMysteryman, sounds like you are having a blast.

Were you in the mood to be spooked when you started this game? I think my mood often has a lot to do with my feelings toward a game.
Posted by: NJMysteryMan

Re: Scratches Review - 10/17/06 12:44 PM

Hi Looney4labs:

Yeah, I'm always in the mood to be spooked. And it helps that I scare so easily, hehehe. But then when I'm in the middle of it, I ask myself, "why do I play these games?" I've got Barrow Hill sitting next to me, but I like to finish what I'm playing before I start up a new game. Of course, I always am a slow player, but then it just gives me more to look forward to when I'm done.

I love horror games and mystery novels. I loved And Then There Were None and am looking forward to Murder on the Orient Express. I also am a big fantasy RPG fan, so Keepsake is also on my list. But Haunted House games and Spooky ones in general always catch my eye first. With my new PC I want to go back and buy up all the games I missed, such as the Deleware St. John games that I didn't want to buy until I got this new system.

Also looking forward to the sequel to Last Half of Darkness (the first one kept me happy and jumping all the way to the end). Of course, I still need to complete Dark Fall 1 & 2 (I just found the brain work a little too much, scary but you need to think too). So I'll be nice and content, scaring myself silly in front of my PC for the next few months. Can an adventure gamer ask for anything more? happydance
Posted by: Reenie

Re: Scratches Review - 10/17/06 10:34 PM

I am playing "Scratches" now and must give it praise for its sound effects and the use of music to increase the mood. I am also playing the Sherlock "Mummy" game and its (mis)use of background music is laughable by comparison.

I don't mind a scare now and then, too! <span class="spoiler_containter"><span class="spoiler_wording">Click Here For A Spoiler</span><span class="spoiler_text"> Having to crawl through that vent in the basement was trippy, and I jumped clear out of my chair when I found the mask in the door behind the cupboard. </span></span> eek lol The graphic quality of the game is excellent.

Despite these moments of fright, I have to agree with those who feel that it drags a bit, though. Everything is such a pixel hunt! And you are constantly having to run up the stairs and down, try the phone, check the mail, etc., in case something else turns up. I know that it is probably realistic -- for a guy stuck in the house alone and having to work things out -- but it is not too much fun for the player.

I'm not exactly looking forward to the end, but don't think I'll be let down when it is over.

Some of my favorite games: Tex Murphy series, Black Dahlia, Gabriel Knight series, the Myst games, Longest Journey, Syberia, Grim Fandango, Outcast, Anachronox.
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Scratches Review - 10/18/06 12:36 PM

NJMystery, I liked all the games you listed. I love to be gently spooked, but hate to be grossed out. Have fun with those.

Reenie, Music can make such a difference in ambiance. It's always great when the music is just right. wave You'll have to let us know how the ending "felt".
Posted by: NJMysteryMan

Re: Scratches Review - 11/04/06 08:22 PM

Whew! I just finished Scratches a few moments ago. Now that I've caught my breath I think I can tell you all how I enjoyed the game.

Granted, most of the reviews are correct. The game does drag a bit and looking back, there's not much that actually happens. But I had fun, because in the long run, I scared myself. I think that alone makes this a good game. The atmosphere and story are top notch, however the walking around and having to complete tasks only at certain points of the game, made it a bit frustrating.

In the end, I had a great time with Scratches. The ending was creepy. The story was good and kept me going. It was a pleasant way to spend my days around Halloween.

I'm not sure exactly if I understood the ending, but I formed my own ideas and I guess that's a fun point as well, each person may have a different take on it. Now to load up another one...hmmm can my nerves handle Barrow Hill or should I try something lighter for a bit. Excuse me while I go turn the lights on. scared
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Scratches Review - 11/04/06 10:37 PM

Sounds like you enjoyed it! Now the question is "Are you in the mood to be scared again? Or do you want to laugh?"

Whichever you choose, have fun.
Posted by: NJMysteryMan

Re: Scratches Review - 11/10/06 12:05 AM

I took the cowards way out LOL. Actually I enjoyed Scratches a lot and would recommend it. With my new PC, I actually dug out some old games I never finished for various reasons. I'm working on Post Mortem right now and having a great time, I didn't realize how great this game was. Hopefully I'll dust off some more classics soon. I'll keep you all posted!
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Scratches Review - 11/11/06 09:54 AM

Isn't it fun to find something is way more fun than you remembered?
Posted by: Reenie

Re: Scratches Review - 11/12/06 01:43 PM

Bruce, thanks for the review! I was lukewarm on this game, too, and wondered how others felts. Actually, I was looking forward to a big scare, and was delighted to be startled a few times. There were some areas of the house that frightened me when I had to explore them. But it is not a "monster" game in the same sense as Alien vs. Predator, and folks should not expect to be terrified by it.

Like you, I was put off by the linearity of play. I would investigate something, could not execute it (later learned because of the time issue), and then dismiss it as a possible branch of exploration. It took me a while to realize that I had to go BACK to things that had not worked before, in order to do these things when "it was time." I got bored with checking the phone just to see if it was time for more info to come from that source, and I got bored with going outside and walking all around the place to see if "it was time" to get into the other buildings or pick up some mail. Way too much senseless wandering around.

There were some pretty obscure things/actions to figure out. For instance, scratching on a small patch of wallpaper with a knife -- there are LOTS of walls to scratch on, how are you supposed to know you need to scratch it and where? This is a game where I had to resort to a WT several times in order to get unstuck, something that kind of spoils a game for me. Makes me feel like I cheated.

I enjoyed "Scratches" overall, though. It was clever, different, complex, and well done -- and it did NOT rely on any of the old game chiches such as 1) Mummies, 2) Druids, 3) Nazis, 4) Atlantis, 5) Aliens, 6) Secret Agents, 7) Robots, etc...... Definitely worth the price, given some of the less-than-stellar Adventure games out these days.
Posted by: Redhed

Re: Scratches Review - 01/19/07 03:33 PM

I love reading the reviews of games that I have played.

I just started playing adventure games in the past six months and Scratches is a favorite so far.

There were two or three parts of that game that really gave me a scare!
Posted by: Tomer

Re: Scratches Review - 10/04/10 05:19 PM

Does anyone here agree that "the last visit" is totally unnecessary and just ruined possible branching of theories?