Scratches

Platform

zScore

67%

Scratches

Developer:Nucleosys Genre:Adventure Release Date: Download Games Free Now!

About The Game

An adventure horror game developed by Agustin Cordes. Set in and around a solitary Victorian mansion concealing a terrible secret, a long since forgotten story from the past emerges to haunt the present. A careful combination of inventory-based and deductive-style puzzles, integrated with a riveting storyline, non-linear gameplay, intricately detailed graphics, and an entrancing soundtrack, immerse you in a haunting Gothic atmosphere.

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Scratches

Scratches Review

By Jimmy Goldstein |

There have been books, movies, and psychologists before that tried to prove one central point: there is nothing to fear from the dark, because there is nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light. If you're not scared of it when you can see it and know what it is, why then should you be scared of it even if you can't see it?

There's a large hole in that logic though… What if whatever is making that noise in the dark simply wasn't there in the light? What if it was laying, hiding, unseen, and only decided to make its presence known when you couldn't see? Do you shrug it off and investigate later, or do you risk trying to find the source of those noises?

Scratches, an adventure game developed by Nucleosys and published by Got Game Entertainment, decides to tackle that very question head-on. The result, ironically, is just what those psychologists were trying to tell us: once you turn on the lights and get down to it, the results tend to be a bit uninteresting.

Obviously it's a complete injustice to give away much of a story in an adventure game, but we'll speak briefly about the setup. You take the role of Michael Arthate, a novelist specializing in horror and mystery. After writing a decent debut novel and getting more than your fair share of attention and profits, you decide to buy an old and abandoned Victorian house in some backwoods village of England. Inside, you hope to find inspiration for the ending of your latest book, one which you trust will launch you into authors' stardom.

Arriving at the mansion, you're surprised to see that the house is in pretty rotten condition. Still, it has an odd allure, and being awfully curious, you begin to poke around and search the house. After leafing through some journals and other materials around the many rooms of the house, you start to realize that some very bizarre events had taken place to the previous owners.

And that's all we'll say about the story's specifics. Adventure games live and die by their narrative. As far as suspense and terror goes, we're happy to report that there's definitely something creepy about your environment. Although we'll elaborate more on the tangible things in a moment, know that the story alone will be enough to keep you on edge for the duration of the game.

Probably the biggest, greatest feature of the story is the absolutely delicious pacing. This isn't an award-winning piece of narrative -- it gets just a tiny bit predictable in places -- but from beginning to end it's a well-written story with essentially two (and only two) strange twists. One of the creepiest things about the narrative is how much it resides in the past rather than the present.

It's a good thing the presentation and story are strong because Scratches is your typical adventure game as far as gameplay is concerned. Click, click, find an item, click, click, figure out how to use that item, click, click. Even saving the game doesn't involve naming your save slot, so you'll never have to touch the keyboard. Although the box may say "non-linear gameplay," the truth is that you have to click certain things at a time. It's only non-linear in the sense that, if you need to click ten things to advance to the next part of the story, you can click those ten things in any order you wish.

The gameplay fully revolves around the story and in trying to determine how all the items you find in-game relate to it. Can item X combine with item Y to make item Z? And then, where does item Z go? In this room, or the first room? Maybe a room you haven't seen yet?

Not all adventure games are created equal, and the problem with most of the bad ones is that the items are illogical, and/or not enough hints are given. Scratches is terrific about this: there is not a single red herring inventory item, and 99% of the puzzles are logic-based more than "click a bunch of times and see what actually works"-based. There's only one puzzle toward the end that reeks a little of pixel-hunting, and even then it's not too bad.

That said, finding inventory items can be a little of a chore. Most items are rather obvious, but some things that seem helpful are not items while some things that seem pointless are necessary. Perhaps slightly for the worse, all items in the game are necessary to complete it (hence no red herrings), but that means some are easy to miss. Also, some items are clearly visible from the beginning, but you won't know they're necessary until late in the game. This leads to a lot of backtracking, which can be annoying.

In fact, perhaps the game's greatest gameplay weakness is, ironically, its setting. You'll never leave the grounds of the mansion, so you'll see the same rooms dozens of times until you're done, especially if you get stuck. There are a few buildings outside the house itself that you'll visit, but you'll only need to visit them each one or two times.

Scratches Game Walkthrough

This walkthrough is for the extra chapter after Scratches: Director's Cut 
called Scratches:  The Last Visit.  It's not nearly as long as the previous 
game, and takes place umpteen years after the original Scratches.  The 
chapter is almost teasingly short, but it ties up any loose ends you may 
have felt after finishing Scratches.  There are a lot of spoilers in this 
little guide and at the end I attempt to tie up the loose ends for you in 
case you missed a few things.  In other words, if you don't want the whole 
thing spoiled for you, then I suggest you stop reading now.

Right now.

You can stop now.

I'm going to really start laying the whole thing out for you so avert your 
eyes from this text unless you absolutely really need to know what's 
happening.

Still here?

Okay, take a deep breath and let's get started.

You play a reporter who has been assigned the task of investigating 
Blackwood Manor before it is demolished in two weeks.  While the obvious 
solution would be to interview Michael Arthate, it turns out that he shuns 
the press and any attempt to interview him has failed.  Your only option is 
to go to Blackwood Manor yourself and have a look around.

Go down the right path to the garage.  You won't be able to go inside, but 
on the ground is a can.  Pick it up.

The paths that would lead to the greenhouse and chapel have been flooded.  
You can use the can to try to empty out the pathway, but that'd be useless.  
Best to keep a can of water instead.

The outside of the house appears to have some articles from the church 
strewn in the yard next to an open hole.  Investigating the hole reveals 
something moving underneath.

Inside the house the place has been looted and stripped.  Graffiti is 
scrawled on the walls, but most of it is illegible.  Going down the secret 
passage in the fireplace takes you to the dungeon room discovered at the end 
of the last game.  The door that saved Michael has been torn from its hinges 
and rests on the opposite wall.  Investigating the large hole in the wall 
reveals an object, but any attempt to reach it results in being attacked by 
an "angry cat" in the wall.

The dining room has been sorely misused.  The door to the front office is 
stuck.  Going into the hallway you find that the door leading to the kitchen 
has had its doorknob removed.  You can't use the stairs here so go back to 
the front of the house and use these stairs.

The spare guestroom that Michael used during his brief stay has been looted 
as well.  The only thing left is his suitcase with a few shirts.  Leave here 
and go to the gallery.  Nothing remains.  The secret storeroom's door has 
been removed, but there is no sign of the mask.  The master bedroom across 
the hallway has been stripped of everything.  The only thing of interest is 
a bottle of thalidomide.  This drug was prescribed to pregnant ladies back 
in the fifties and sixties for morning sickness, but was found to have 
disastrous effects on the fetuses.

The bathroom down the hall is too dark to investigate due to our silly 
reporter forgetting a flashlight.  After you leave this room you can attempt 
to go up the stairs to the attic, but nothing doing.

Go back outside to that hole.  Pour the water down the hole and listen to 
what happens.  Do not forget to refill your can before you go back into the 
house.  Go back down the secret passage to the dungeon and get the object.  
A doorknob.

Go into the kitchen now and down into the basement.  It's still creepy.  
Find the cleaning fluid on the floor next to the drain cover and the rag on 
top of the furnace.

Go back up to the bathroom.  Use the rag with cleaning fluid and water from 
the can to wipe away the mud from the windows and illuminate the room.  Now 
you can investigate the bathtub.  Guess what delightful souvenir you find 
there?

Well there's nothing left here.  You turn to leave.  Familiar music calls 
you back to the bathroom.  That creepy African music that seems to be 
provoked by the mask.  You draw back the curtain to the bathtub. . .

You run from the bathroom with something following you.  Its bald head is 
malformed with a stretched out maw and jug ears.  Rags hang from its gaunt 
body.  In the brief seconds you can stand to look at it before horror 
overtakes you you can tell that it is clothed and vaguely human.  It chases 
you down the hallway.  You turn to watch its progress and fall backwards 
over the balcony.

Landing on your back you look straight up to see the thing leap over the 
side of the rail and land in front of you just as the front door opens.  A 
mysterious old man calls the thing, "Robin," and says something about 
wanting to see him again.  The two embrace just as you make your escape.

TYING THE WHOLE STORY TOGETHER - MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!!!



From what I can tell, James Blackwood stole this horrible mask from the 
Dhalmaar, a lost African tribe, because he was drawn to it.  It wasn't until 
later and after much research that he began to understand the Dhalmaar's 
bizarre and vicious customs.  The Dhalmaar were under the control of a 
horrible and vicious god. They found a way to imprison it into the mask and 
kept him there by offering him sacrifices of themselves.  The Dhalmaar 
destroyed neighboring villages utterly and completely to prevent anyone from 
finding the mask and releasing the god and the evil that had been kept at 
bay for generations.  The Dhalmaar were so intent on keeping the god a 
secret wholly unto themselves that they inbred and kept their numbers small.   
They only sacrificed themselves.

Blackwood witnessed one such sacrifice and thought it horribly barbaric, but 
still stole the mask.  He brought it back with him to Blackwood Manor, but 
could feel the evil emanating from it.  He shut it up in a storeroom and 
boarded and blocked the doorway leading to it hoping to forget about it.

His wife, Catherine Blackwood, got pregnant and was prescribed thalidomide, 
presumably for morning sickness.  Because nobody knew the disastrous side 
effects at the time, when she gave birth to a deformed and demented child, 
James Blackwood blamed it on the evil spirit that was now cursing his 
family.  

Robin, the child, had a nursery on the second floor with toys and a crib, 
but didn't live there for very long, apparently, as this is the only 
furniture you find in the room.  His friend, Dr. Christopher Milton, 
declared the child dead within a few days of birth and no one in the town of 
Rothbury was any wiser.

Robin was probably showing violent tendencies as he approached toddler age.  
At what point he was put into the dungeon, I couldn't be sure, but it was 
definitely after he attacked his mother and ripped out her throat.  James 
Blackwood's reputation was nearly ruined when the maid of the house, Eva 
Martiani, accused him of burying the body of Catherine Blackwood.  She took 
a picture of Blackwood digging a hole with what appeared to be a body next 
to him.  She told the police that she saw a wound on Catherine Blackwood's 
neck that looked like it had been torn.

Despite Milton's efforts, the town buzzed with gossip and rumors.  It took 
the combined efforts of Blackwood and Milton to keep the police at bay so 
they could not even conduct a proper investigation on the grounds or even 
recover Catherine's body. In any event, before Blackwood could be brought to 
justice, he died at the age of 56 of a heart attack.

Blackwood's death was faked by Milton.  Milton stayed in the house for years 
afterwards, presumably taking care of Robin.  His diary alludes to him 
losing track of time and being haunted constantly by the sounds of African 
drums and scratching.  He disappeared one day and no one knows what happened 
to him, although because of the body you find in the crypt it's most 
probable that James Blackwood interred his friend in his own family's crypt 
under his name.

I can only speculate what happened after the documented events.

James found a way to reverse the curse, but was stopped by his wife's death 
before he could complete the ritual.  After he disappeared and Milton died, 
the house appeared abandoned for all intents and purposes.  Jerry's 
unscrupulous business practices obtained the house under the pretense of it 
being abandoned, but very much illegally, it turns out, as within three days 
of Michael moving in, the police are ready to vacate him by force.

Robin sustains his life in the dungeon with leaking pipes providing water 
and the rat skeletons proof of food.  Years after Michael discovers him and 
locks him back up, he has managed to scratch a small hole to the surface, 
but does not attempt to escape through it.  He chooses to stay in his lair 
even after vandals have torn the door to his prison off of its hinges.  He 
has managed to silence a few of them, it seems, as outside of his little 
hole there are articles belonging to the chapel that look as though they 
were dropped in quite a hurry, but nobody has reported anyone or anything at 
Blackwood Manor.

Robin does escape to the upper level of the house where it seems the mask 
calls him to the bathroom.  Once he sees the reporter, he gives chase until 
he falls upon him on the ground floor and is stopped by his father, James 
Blackwood.  James says something about needing to see his son one last time, 
probably because the house is being demolished in two weeks, but that's all 
the dialogue you catch before escaping.

I would gladly welcome any further insight into the plot synopsis as I may 
have gotten the dates of events a little muddled or missed an important 
document.  Please e-mail me at vixenwench@comcast.net and have something 
pertinent to the game in the subject line.

 
                    

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