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
(continued from previous page) ...Easily the most significant aspect in Book of Memories’ basic gameplay however is the Karma system. Enemies come in two types, namely Blood and Light, which when defeated drop pools of blood aligned to either of these forces. Collecting this will boost your Karma Meter to either the Blood or Light side, allowing you to unleash special powers when unlocked. There’s three for each side in total: Light focuses on healing your character, while blood is the more violent approach and damages foes.
This injects a much-needed tactical edge to the proceedings, letting you alter your preferred playing style. I found myself low on health a lot the time, and therefore tended to side with Light to gain the extra HP. It’s a nice touch, and keeps you thinking about how you approach the game. And, while combat is lacking in terms of execution, there is at least an element of strategy in the sense certain foes are susceptible to specific weapons or alignments (for example, Air Screams are weak against firearms), which does give you food for thought when approaching certain battles.
Of course, you don’t have to tackle all this alone. Team up in the game’s multiplayer and you can take some of the strain off by having your pals battle foes at your side, and it feels satisfying cooperating with other players. I didn't experience any major lag at all, and joining games was easy enough; you can also host private/public games too, though it'll overwrite your current single-player progress. Sending commands to other players on-screen is pretty fiddly though. Likewise, having to use the touchscreen to pick up items becomes cumbersome after a while, although overall the controls are responsive and mirror previous Silent Hill titles, with the shoulder buttons used to aim your firearm, square/triangle for using melee weapons, and X being your workhorse ‘action’ command. A touchscreen-based inventory system ensures you can easily heal yourself, repair weapons or select a new weapon with ease by tapping the icons on the bottom right of the screen.
Book of Memories’ biggest flaw aside from the generic combat is the copious amounts of backtracking you’ll have to do. The maps are surprisingly vast, and you’ll end up hauling ass from one end of the zone to the other as you hunt for missing keys to unlock new areas, or just to save your progress in in the single-zone save room. There’s no checkpoint system to speak of, so if you end up brown bread you’ll start from wherever you saved last – and if that was some time ago, then be prepared to repeat everything again. Lastly, the game boasts some decidedly cheap traps that you'll only discover when they're draining you of health; there's no way of spotting them until you fall into their grasp, making it a pain when you're exploring or combating enemies. On the plus side, there's dozens of zones so you'll be busy for a while.
Visually the game is one of the prettier titles on Sony’s new handheld, and environments are suitably spooky, oozing those quintessential Silent Hill traits – rust, blood, burning fires, everything is here as you’d expect. Sound-wise the voice cast is nothing to write home about, though the music packs an atmospheric punch, and the sounds that emanate from the monsters have been updated with a fresh, ghoulish twist.
Overall, Silent Hill: Book of Memories is an admirable take on a classic franchise, which for the most part provides an entertaining dungeon crawling romp let down by some glaring issues. Combat is underwhelming and the basic grind can become repetitive, while the amount of backtracking further compounds these issues. However, if you can stick at it, you’ll find that Book of Memories is still frighteningly addictive, and with friends can provide a nice distraction.
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