Platform: PlayStation Vita
ESRB: M for Mature
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Released: October 16th, 2012
Silent Hill: Book of Memories is at its a core a relatively simple dungeon crawler with the added flavor of the Silent hill atmosphere, including many of its themes and tropes, being what its environments, items, and story are modeled around. While this may sound like a criticism, especially because it strays so far from the beaten path of the series, I actually consider it to be a strength of this game. Dungeon crawlers in general tend to be a genre which are hindered by repetitiveness and predictability, and by introducing the creatively designed monsters and themes of Silent Hill it feels as though new life has been breathed in the genre. This game, however, is by no means a horror game in my eyes, though its creatures are satisfyingly varied and horrific.
Book of Memories uses the age old system of feeding back story and framing the plot for the player using notes and memories that play on television sets, and weapons with durability which break apart, and a limited inventory system (which can be upgraded). It isn’t enough to make this genre feel terrifying by any stretch of the imagination. Additionally, many staple monsters of the games are cheapened by their use as common enemies, with nurses appearing in and subsequently being cut down in nearly every room, and even pyramid himself being treated as a minor boss that can be dealt with with relative ease. A trap system keep rooms interesting as you may incorporate them into your strategy, but some traps tend to be game breaking, such as healing traps which invalidate any use of health packs considering you can always return to that room, and death traps that put you and your enemies down to 1 hp for 10 seconds which result in many undeserved deaths or overly easy kills.
One aspect that bothered me more than that though was the understated nature of the rpg elements, with leveling been relatively slow, and only receiving two basic stat points for level, I didn’t get the sense that I was deeply specializing my character, and special skills may as well be nonexistent. The major difference you do create in your character, beyond its appearance which is meant to help you grow attached to them, is a charm you pick at the very beginning of the game, which is mildly aggravating due to the fact that you have no idea what the charm you choose will do, and even after you pick it its hard to tell, I wound up looking them up online before making my choice. There is also supposed to be a difference among the individual classes, which read more like high school stereotypes, though I never figured out what it was beyond their voice, I wound up not playing the nerd simply because I couldn’t stand is nasally whine.
Though the Silent Hill atmosphere does a lot too help, as does the fact that each zone is randomized upon entering, I still find myself growing bored of the repetitiveness at times, and the most painful part of it is how even though there is a save point located in each puzzle, if you save there and turn off the game, when you start from your save point all of the rooms have refilled with the monsters you have been methodically clearing out, something that can be extremely discouraging when you try to jump back into game play. At the end of each zone is either a puzzle or a major boss depending on which zone you are completing, and while the bosses are satisfying its disappointing how repetitive the puzzles are, being that they are merely a matter of putting a set of gradated or color coordinated set pieces in the correct order, which is hinted at in the puzzle hint located on each level, but if you don’t happen to have it or can’t figure it out there is no penalty for randomly or methodically placing them until you get the answer.
The weapon system is suitability varied by combining fast and slow, one and two handed, and element specialized weapons to provide a fairly deep pool to choose from, and tool kits help you hold onto the ones you like, which the slow but rewarding weapon specialty leveling system tries to encourage you to do. The game also utilizes a system of light and dark, where you kill light and blood creatures and they move a bar in the upper right, as well as picking up light blood from blood creatures or blood blood from light creatures to help yourself favor one end of the spectrum or the other, this system is how you change the story to either have a light, dark, or neutral outcome, but you also use this as a form of currency for using special skills that use the touch screen on the back, but using these skills takes away some of your light or blood quantity, so I found myself avoiding them.
The story itself is pretty interesting as it is framed around changing your past, one person in your life at a time, all of which is recorded in the book of memories which was delivered to you by the mysterious post man at the beginning of the game. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoyed playing through the dungeons and finding new weapons, monsters, and artifacts, and seeing the story slowly unfold, but it wasn’t something I ever got lost in or sucked up and unreasonable amount of time because I was so engrossed.
- Smooth familiar gameplay
- Interesting creatures and environments
- Silent hill atmosphere provides fresh take on dungeon crawling
- Not a legitimately horrifying game, despite it being Silent Hill
- Difficult to specialize your character with little to no information about what contributes
7 out of 10
Article from Gamersyndrome.com