Is it worth you money? Read my review below.
Originally published on SquareGo
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Since the first Silent Hill game in 1999, the series has stayed the course, never slipping too far from the minds of the gamer populace and always keeping the fans eager for more. Of course, no game concept can exist and stay relevant without evolving and Silent Hill is no different.
The series has changed and mutated as it continued, although has arguably never improved beyond the sheer genius of Silent Hill 2. Instead in more recent years iteration have tried different means of re-invigorating the concept. Be it Homecoming‘s action-oriented homage to series inspiration Jacob’s Ladder, the paranoia-driven psycho-analysing nature of Shattered Memories, or the more successful Downpour‘s melding of the traditional psycho-play with an influx of more sandbox styled play and side-quests, they haven’t been afraid to experiment. Naturally some concepts have fared better than others, but the single running thread has always been the town of Silent Hill and it’s trademark body-horror and dark shadows. Which begs the question, what on earth were they thinking when someone came up with the idea of making the entry addition for Sony’s PS Vita, Silent Hill: Book of Memories, an isometric Rogue-like dungeon battler?
Unlike previous SH games, Book of Memories takes the novel step of letting the player choose their character,although to fit the constraints of the limited narrative, that just means you have to choose the sex and a few aesthetic aspects of the character model. In any event, the character is in their late teens, and can be ascribed to one of a set of cliche’d American High School demographics, Jocks, Goths or Preppy type, which has little actual effect on the final game.
Your chosen hero was delivered the Book of Memories by a strange mailman (although familiar enough to anyone who played Downpour). The book contains the events of their own lives, and for no apparent reason, our plucky teen decided to alter some of the details before going to sleep one night, and has awoken in Silent Hill.
Therein lies the most fundamental problem with Book of Memories. It isn’t Silent Hill and people who come to this expecting a handheld story of some poor wretch struggling along the path to perdition will be sorely disappointed. Instead of the usual story driven wanderings through real places and hellishly abstracted worlds of rusted-iron and wheels of fire, this game is a labyrinthine medley of challenge rooms separated with maze-like corridors, which can be explored either alone or as part of a team. Yes, there is a very healthy multiplayer mode in Book of Memories, which serves to further defuse any tension in the scenario other than that of the constant onslaught of monsters.
It’s quite simply a dungeon crawler that happens to be filled with the denizens and general aesthetic of the classic Konami series. At times it even feels as if it was a mod of some better rogue-like made by feverish fans who wished to pit their mettle against contorted Nurses, giant bats and the occasional Pyramid Head. If that were the case, it would probably be far better received. If you approach the game from the poit of view that is is simply a trap-evading hack and slash game, then you’ll have a lot more fun, and probably begin to see that there is actually a lot here to enjoy.
It’s not a bad game by any stretch, with hours of dungeon to explore as you work through the story arc, and then the chance to try again and grind some more with a new avatar. If you’re looking for a classic Silent Hill experience, look elsewhere.