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Creeping Terror (3DS) artwork

Creeping Terror (3DS) review

"It's PG-13 Clock Tower."

Creeping Terror (3DS) image

A good horror story gives its audience a reason to be afraid. Some of them kick off with a brutal death scene. Others offer a twisted glimpse into the antagonist's backstory. Segments like these build villains up as legitimate threats, outlining precisely why you should be terrified of them. Occasionally, though, such tales devote the early phases of the plot to introducing the main characters, setting up a simple premise and turning everything on its head. That's Creeping Terror's strategy, and it works out wonderfully at first.

The game introduces you to a quartet of teens who decide to explore a rundown mansion for thrills. Local rumors speak of paranormal phenomena and visitors turning up missing, and our heroes can't pass the opportunity to grab a camera and catch some spooky footage. Unfortunately, their curiosity causes one of their friends, a girl named Arisa, to fall through the floor and plummet into an abandoned mine. Relying on only her smartphone's limited light and finite batteries, you must guide her through the side-scrolling, Clock Tower-esque maze that comprises the mines.

You wander the pitch black corridors for a while, unable to see past the minuscule globe emitted by your phone. You wonder what could be lurking in the shadows, nervous that any moment a hand or tentacle will snare you and carry you off into the cold oblivion beyond the dark. The game's soundtrack turns creepy and ambient, loaded with groans and ghostly tunes. To take your mind of the tension, you busy yourself with exploring and filling your dinky inventory with stones, candy bars and spare batteries, and occasionally scaring off colonies of bats that block your path.

However, it isn't long before you trigger a cutscene and meet Creeping Terror's main antagonist.

You: A petite high school student carrying a cell phone and a rock or two.

Him: A hulking man-beast that's easily near the seven foot mark, armed with a shovel and murderous intent.

Your pants: A dark circle forming on them.

Creeping Terror initially gives you an excellent reason to be horrified. You're a normal citizen up against a skyscraper of a man who's only questionably human. You could throw a stone at him, but that will only stifle him for a short period. He'll eventually recover and continue his pursuit until you're dead at his feet. Your only option is to flee and locate a hiding place. Sadly, it's tough to recall where one lies, especially when you've got a mashup of Andre the Giant and Jason Voorhees on your heels.

Creeping Terror (3DS) image

To make matters worse, you have a finite amount of stamina when a creature chases you. It decreases while you run, forcing you to periodically slow down to catch your breath. Meanwhile, your foe could fall upon you during that time and shave off some of your hit points. Should that occur, your maximum stamina will drop as well, rendering escape even more difficult.

Eventually, you locate a mattress or a mine cart under which to duck. The monster approaches, doesn't notice you and runs away. You're safe and free to explore for the time being. So you crawl out and examine a few rooms. The music remains evenly paced, with no build up as you advance through the tunnels. And then, without warning or fanfare, the monster appears again and stomps after you. You scream and throw your 3DS.

Creeping Terror's entire campaign chugs along in this fashion. You search for an event item or attempt to trigger the next story scene, an enemy hounds you, you hide, you resume the quest. In addition to the aforementioned titan, you also run afoul of a robed cultist clutching a candelabra and an emaciated doberman who sees you as a steak clad in a school uniform. For a while, the game remains adequately spooky and thrilling.

A good horror story works to maintain its fear factor. Any worthwhile narrative utilizes more than grotesque villains and creepy, old houses to keep the ball rolling. Genre standouts preserve tension and provide fresh scares and unnerving material. They also don't paint their antagonists as pushovers, or else the whole experience collapses. Sadly, Creeping Terror falls victim to this phenomenon.

After you've learned the ropes, the game becomes significantly easier. You eventually discover that you can reuse the same hiding places indefinitely, which partly robs Creeping Terror of its punch. Soon, adversaries shift from threatening to merely annoying. Whenever you encounter one, you sigh and pad back to the closest crawlspace or safe house. Your opponents never figure out why you constantly disappear in the same room, and that deprives them of their scare factor. It casts them in such a moronic light that they aren't even somewhat frightening anymore.

Creeping Terror (3DS) image

Before long, you figure out that you can temporarily stymie each enemy by running towards them and initiating a brief QTE. You lose some of your health in the process, but you also end up stunning the maniac long enough for you to slip past him and onward to safety. What kind of horror title features a meaty monstrosity who can be pushed around by a character who's all of one hundred pounds?

Thanks to the aforementioned safe houses, I consumed few restorative items during my playthrough. Any time my hit points or cell phone's battery power were even moderately low, I returned to one to replenish them. Creeping Terror also allowed me to save any time I wasn't running away from foes, so I save scummed to further mitigate losses. Tight inventory management helps bolster a game's horror elements. Titles like this are at their scariest when you're worried that you might not have enough rations or ammo to complete the campaign. However, Creeping Terror overloaded me with resources and methods to preserve them easily, so I had no reason to be afraid.

Creeping Terror loses steam before it's halfway done. That's a shame when you consider the game has four different endings. If you're like me, you won't bother with the other three because the game is tedious and tame. It showcases strong content in its early phases, but its scare factor peters out when you realize the villains are wimps. Any truly frightening piece maintains its momentum, usually by continuing to find new and inventive ways to scare the socks off its audience. When a game fails to accomplish that, you're left with a mediocre experience at best. That sums up Creeping Terror perfectly.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (November 12, 2017)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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