Silent Hill: Book of Memories Review
- Posted November 2nd, 2012 at 12:55 EDT by Michael Harradence
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Silent Hill: Book of Memories is an interesting take on a classic franchise let down by some noticeable flaws.
- Impressive bestiary of iconic Silent Hill monsters
- Strangely addictive with some interesting gameplay mechanics
- Excels in co-op mode
- Bland, repetitive combat
- Lots of backtracking
- The cheap traps dotted throughout each zone
The Survival Horror genre has been rapidly declining since the mid-2000s. Changing tastes among consumers and pressure from corporate bigwigs alike has forced the likes of Capcom and Konami to slowly transition away from the methodical, cerebral-based antics of old and instead go down a more mainstream, action-oriented route more aligned with Hollywood blockbusters than a George A. Romero romp. This is best exemplified in Survival Horror’s tent pole franchises such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill, though in the case of the latter it still has one decomposing foot (just about) in the horror space.
However, Book of Memories, the PlayStation Vita-exclusive from WayForward Technologies, marks an emphatic escape from what we have come to expect from the venerable psychological horror series. To put it succinctly, Book of Memories is a dungeon crawler with a distinct Silent Hill flavour, combining the aesthetics and aural staples of Konami’s series with a modern, hack-‘n-slash twist sprinkled with a healthy dose of puzzling for good measure. In short, it’s an interesting, albeit flawed combination.
Story-wise, the game focuses on the eponymous Book of Memories; a mysterious tome that contains the reader’s entire history up to that point. More importantly, the reader can change history by literally rewriting the pages. So, no mysterious letter’s from a dead wife, no missing daughters, but it’s enough of an excuse to step into a portal to the alternate realities that occupy Silent Hill. Book of Memories features a basic character creation process, letting you select your gender and tinker with some things such as headgear, clothes, hair – all the usual things you’d expect.
The game itself is set up into ‘Zones’ that range in appearance. You’ll visit spooky forests, gloomy dungeons, hellish underground complexes and many more in your adventure. As mentioned, Book of Memories is essentially a dungeon crawler, so you’ll spend much of your time roaming through corridors, exploring rooms and accumulating loot. The overall objective in each Zone is simple: solve the end puzzle by collecting a determined number of riddle pieces and clues, and occasionally battle a boss beyond. However, this is easier said than done. Puzzle pieces are carefully guarded by the numerous monsters that inhabit dungeon rooms, which is something Book of Memories does extremely well. The game is chock full of Silent Hill’s iconic beasts, from Nurses, Split Heads, Air Screamers, Butchers and yes, even the mighty Pyramid Head himself.
While some rooms featuring roaming foes, a lot of the time you’ll be required to trigger spawning enemies by smashing a blue, glowing orb. Defeating the result bad guys will reward you with a puzzle piece. That’s not all either, as the game also produces an optional side quest in each Zone, given to you at the start of the level by the mysterious Valtiel. These vary from anything between escorting a dog through the zone unharmed to defeating a specific enemy, or group of enemies in a certain order. The reward is actually worth the effort too, coming in the shape of some meaty weaponry and other useful tools. Unfortunately, for a game where combat is paramount to your success, Book of Memories’ combat is disappointingly generic.
Essentially, the game requires you to mindlessly hammer away at the attack button, hacking away at foes until they go down. Your character can wield a weapon in each hand, though the bigger tools require both hands to wield. There’s little strategic value to the combat, and while you can dodge using the circle button and the analogue stick, it’s so capacious in nature that you can’t rely on it to save your bacon when it counts (though proves handy when it does). Yet despite the repetitive nature of combat, it still remains satisfying when you successfully dispatch a gaggle of ghouls, although to keep your health in ship shape, you’ll have to employ the old ‘hit-and-run’ tactic.
Beyond combat, the game will shower you in basic RPG mechanics. Fighting foes will eventually boost your level, letting you increase rudimentary attributes, while equipping special items also increases your stats. Meanwhile, Memory Residue (the game’s currency) can be spent in shops dotted around zones to stock up on weapons and items such as medical kits. Easily the most ... (continued on next page) ----
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