Developer WayForward has taken the Silent Hill series in a new direction. Instead of developing a third-person puzzle game that replicates the previous games released on Sony’s console systems, they have created a isometric action-RPG that retains the puzzle elements that we’re all familiar with.
The game immediately begins with a cinema that sets the tone for the entire story. After answering the doorbell to your apartment, you are delivered a package from Silent Hill by an eccentric-looking individual dressed as a mailman. Before leaving, the strange mailman, despite being a stranger, wishes you a ,’Happy Birthday’.
The package contains a book that has your life memories illustrated on its pages (i.e. from birth to present day; it even shows the package being delivered to you). You become curious about the book’s purpose and wonder if rewriting its pages would have any effect on your life. You quickly fall asleep on your bed after making some changes to the book.
You wake from a deep slumber to find yourself in a hellish environment. Large catwalks lead to rooms inhabited by nightmarish monsters that lurk in the dark. A demonic being by the name of Valtiel appears; he is the caretaker of the realm you entered and the emissary of its master. His job is to give you objectives to complete and reward you with weapons and other items when you return to him. The quests vary between killing creatures to escaping the levels. Valtiel will appear once you have completed your task(s).
Silent Hill: Book of Memories uses the same ‘find the key to unlock the door’ formula that is so common in today’s games. When you’re not beating monsters to death with a steal pipe or shooting them full of holes, you’re searching through equipment and storage containers to unlock doors that lead to areas that contain important puzzle pieces. While keys are your main item of interest, there are other items that are important to your survival in Silent Hill.
Memory residue is needed to change the pages in the Book of Memories and to purchase items. Resembling bags that contain gold coins and jewelry, they can be found in just about every cabinet and tool chest. Toolkits resembling wrenches are used to repair weapon durability. These kits become increasingly difficult to find in later levels and only three can be carried at one time.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories relies on a leveling system much like Diabllo III and Torchlight II. When your character levels, you are rewarded attribute points to increase your character’s STR, DEX, VIT, AGI, MND and INT. Special items called artifacts can be equipped to improve your stats, but they’re difficult to find. There are as many as 41 artifacts to collect.
Gameplay uses a combination of touch screen and physical controls. Where the touch screen is concerned, you can tap on items to pick them up. It can also be used to reload your firearms, use medkits, repair weapons, and skip through dialog. The physical controls respond very well. Character movement is controlled by the left analog stick and your attacks (along with opening doors) are assigned to the PS Vita’s face buttons. The left shoulder button targets enemies.
Combat is your standard action-RPG variety with a few twists. For starters, you can dual-wield melee weapons, firearms, or a mixture of the two. Since you can control your character’s arms independently with the Square and Triangle buttons, this leads to a unique experience while confronting your adversaries. You can choose to stab with a melee weapon while conserving ammo long enough to deal the final blow.
Most of the creatures seem to exhibit unpredictable AI. They will sometimes run into corners, stick to objects, or stand still for no apparent reason. Some gamers may find this a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a minor occurrence that rarely affects gameplay.
Every zone has a final puzzle that must be completed before you can move on to the next area. To acquire the pieces needed to complete a puzzle, you must destroy challenge orbs that are located in certain rooms. These challenges reward you with a puzzle piece for killing a certain number of creatures. Once you have completed every challenge, you can finish the end level puzzle and move on to the next zone.
The game features co-op multiplayer with up to four players. Once an online session ends, players are free to continue their game in single-player mode. The PS Vita’s built-in mic is not used to communicate with other players. A selection of pre-recorded comments are available by using the built-in voice chat feature.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories is an entertaining game despite the minor AI flaw. The challenging gameplay and difficult puzzles are enough to keep Silent Hill fans busy for days. It may not be the Silent Hill game we were expecting, but it’s enough to keep gamers happy. Developer WayForwarded should be praised for a job well done.
Platform: PS Vita (Available on PSN)
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
ESRB: M (Mature)
|Silent Hill: Book of Memories' graphics look the part with dark, nightmarish environments and creepy demonic creatures.|
|There's a great soundtrack and plenty of eerie, edge-of-your-seat sound effects.|
|Intense combat, puzzles, and mission-based challenges offer a well-balanced experience .|
|Silent Hill: Book of Memories offers enough diversity for it to stand on its own.|