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Good but not Silent Hill
on 15 November 2012
I'm as big a fan of Silent Hill as you can get really - I've played all of the games countless times and love everything about the stories they tell and the world they pull you into - so I was intrigued (and a little worried) by the concept of a dungeon crawler/RPG?Hack-n-slash spin-off of my favourite games series. As more news came in over the following months I must admit that my heart sank quite a bit as this genre of game is not normally my type of thing, but then I played the demo and absolutely loved it, so at this point I actually pre-ordered the game. Over 2 weeks on from when the full game arrived - I've been playing this for an hour here and there pretty much daily and I must say that I am really enjoying it.
The style is nothing like the traditional Silent Hill games - it is a dungeon crawler where you must complete objectives to retrieve pieces of the puzzle in order to finish the zone you are in. These objectives generally consist of defeating a number of classic enemies in the current room that you are in or not losing a certain amount of health while fighting them. There's levelling up of your customisable (and, unfortunately, very clichéd) character, their weapons and abilities. There's magic, shops to buy new weapons and items from (featuring Howard from SH Downpour) and boss fights. There is also the option to play multiplayer with 3 other players online, which will help a lot in later zones but, in personal experience, there are a lot of item grabbers online who don't play fair, which is no fun for anyone.
Visually it is excellent with rich and detailed environments based on different elements (fire, water, wood etc) to add variety to the level design. The music from Daniel Licht (composer of TV show Dexter and the previous Silent Hill game, Downpour) is absolutely amazing and I really think he fits the mood of the gameplay perfectly (I've since downloaded the soundtrack as I liked it so much). The story is limited but not too bad, told mainly through TV broadcasts and notes littered through the zones rather than cut scenes, which for this type of game I found ok.
It's not a perfect game though. As I mentioned before, online it is difficult to find fair players who don't horde all of the weapons and items, which makes it very hard at times. Only having 1 save room per zone means a lot of back-tracking and deters you from risk taking, which you'd more than likely attempt to beat a room of enemies if it was checkpoint based instead. The gameplay, although fun, does get repetitive after a while, so this game will be one you'll find yourself dropping in and out of rather than playing solidly until you finish it. Probably the biggest flaw in the game is that it is not scary. At all. Imagine a Silent Hill game that doesn't freak you out and play on your mind for ages afterwards...you can't? I couldn't either until I played Book Of Memories, which is a shame as I think this is probably the thing that lets this game down the most.
As an RPG, dungeon crawler Silent Hill Book of Memories is great fun and perfectly designed for bite-sized gaming on your PS Vita. No it isn't a traditional Silent Hill game, which I'm sure will make some fans annoyed, but it is definitely an enjoyable game and it is their loss if they don't try it just because it's different.