Silent Hill: Book of Memories – Review
Memoirs hardly worth remembering.
Michael Plant is chief editor and writer of gaming ezine and blog GamesCatalyst.com, as well as editor of 'The Independent'’s games review printed in the Saturday supplement 'Information'. Established in February 2011, Games Catalyst endeavours to bring its unique brand of fact and satire to the videogaming community and, in tandem with 'The Independent', hopefully turn a few non-believers on to gaming while we’re at it.
Monday 29 October 2012
Mainstream survival horror has been in a slump for most of this console generation. There have been some gems amongst the quagmire, bright spots like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but the output of the two big hitters of the genre – Resident Evil and Silent Hill – has been average at best. And so we’re left with experimentations that don’t quite work, Resident Evil 6 courting the action crowd, and now Silent Hill going after the dungeon crawler brigade with Book of Memories.
The game abandons the eerie unease that permeates the best entries in the series within a matter of minutes, throwing you into a cavalcade of dungeons that could have been ripped from the pages of any embarrassing horror novel. There’s dripping blood, gothic symbols and burnt cabins full of industrial boilers and hidden spikes traps that burst out of the floor with no warning.
You play a student, built at the start of the game from one of four archetypes – goth, rocker, bookworm, or jock. After receiving the titular book from a moon eyed postman, you realise that writing in it lets you change the past, the present, and maybe even the future. Each new scribble leads you into a hellish random dungeon to face your fears and mash buttons until your fingers are sore.
The denizens of these dungeons aren’t friendly, and you’ll need to pick up weapons to fight them off. These range from planks of wood to shotguns, lengths of pipe to giant swords imbued with mystical spells. You can dual wield smaller weapons, controlling different hands with different buttons.
Every weapon in the game degrades though, losing power until it’s smashed apart and you need to use your bare hands to battle the twisted nurses, blobs of flesh and giant cleaver hurling butchers that you encounter on your travels. You can fix your equipped weapons with repair kits, but these become rarer the further into the game you go.
A shop, staffed by the odd postman who brought you the book in the first place, can always be found somewhere in the level, letting you top up your health packs, buy new weapons, or stock up on stat boosting amulets and other trinkets.
Book of Memories is best described as a slog. The combat is sluggish and unintuitive, the backdrops to your battles repetitive, and the creatures you have to smash into gory chunks uninspired. There’s plenty of backtracking through empty rooms, and the karma metre that lets you unleash powerful moves after creating enough devastation feels like a shallow afterthought.
The game is loathe to explain some of its finer details to you as well, and while a co-operative mode adds a little more fun to proceedings – battling ghoulish beasts with a friend is always more fun – it does little to answer the problems of the single player mode.
There are nods here and there to the rest of the Silent Hill canon, and there’s a perverse enjoyment to be found in pushing your way through the narrative to try and find out what happens in the end, but ultimately this is a game that you won’t want to remember.
By Harry Slater
Format: PS Vita
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Life & Style blogs
What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
iPhone 6s photos leak shows new phone will be thicker than iPhone 6, could make cases defunct
Women really are more attracted to men who make them laugh, study finds
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 1 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 4 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
- 5 Bryan Cranston speaks candidly about wealth
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The IT Support Engineer is needed to ass...
£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity to join a p...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...