|System: PS Vita|
|Dev: WayForward Technologies|
|Release: March 27, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 544p||Blood and Gore, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Adam Dodd
Since our first trip to Silent Hill back in 1999, the series has become recognized for its trademark fog, atmospheric music, grotesque enemies, and psychological horror. These have since become staples of the series, and every game so far has been a solitary experience. With Book of Memories, some new elements have been introduced into the mix, including a top-down isometric view and cooperative multiplayer. That alone is enough to make even the most hardened of Silent Hill fans weep, but add series producer Tomm Hulett's comment that Book of Memories will focus on "cooperative multiplayer action rather than traditional psychological horror," and it might be enough to make several fans cross this one off their lists. But before you write this off as a bizarre experiment, there are a few things that make Book of Memories worth checking out.
Book of Memories is the first game in the franchise to let you take on the terrifying enemies with your friends. Adding a multiplayer mode to a horror game isn't anything new; in fact, as the popularity of multiplayer has grown in recent years, several series have come with some sort of multiplayer option. Dead Space 2 introduced a Left 4 Dead-style versus mode, Resident Evil 5 included 2-player co-op (and a versus mode), and Dead Rising 2 also added co-op. The results have been mixed, but where Book of Memories stands apart is that it's been built from the ground up to support co-op.
This makes the idea a little more promising, since it hasn't just been tacked on so "multiplayer" could be added to the back of the box to sell a few more copies. For fans of the franchise, though, a multiplayer-centric Silent Hill is still a tough pill to swallow. Not only is Book of Memories a cooperative game for a brand new handheld, but it's also looks and plays very differently from previous games in the series because of its top-down view. If there's one thing you should know from the beginning, it's that this is a decidedly different take on horror.
Many of the survival horror elements have been replaced by action and levels designed to be played with multiple people. There will be much less focus on puzzles, exploration, atmosphere, and ambiance. These things have been replaced by some light RPG elements, which have you creating your own character that will evolve as the story progresses.
Also coming out next month is Silent Hill: Downpour, an installment in the main series—though it shares no connections in its story or characters to previous games—and a new feature in that game is breakable weapons. This means the weapons you use wear down the more you use them and eventually break, adding an element of strategy to the mix since you'll always have to be aware of your weapon's condition. Book of Memories also includes this feature, and since there's limited guns and ammunition, should your weapon break, you might have to rely on your team to cover you while you search for a replacement.
Story-wise, Book of Memories continues the trend of having no real connection to early games in the series. There will be a completely new and original story, with many new characters, but some familiar creatures will be returning here. Visually, the game is also taking a step away from what fans are used to. The trademark resort town shrouded in fog has been swapped for a series of broken down and dilapidated environments that almost make the game look post-apocalyptic.
Book of Memories shares some aesthetic similarities to other Silent Hill games, but overall, the game isn't what fans have come to expect from a handheld Silent Hill. It follows 2007's Origins as the second Silent Hill to come to handhelds—unless you include Escape for iOS devices—but it is the first to have you high above the action, and with some friends to back you up. The addition of multiplayer will undoubtedly remove many of the potential scares, and keeping you disconnected from everything by keeping the camera high above the action only further removes any chances of this being a scary game. With that said, a multiplayer Silent Hill could be intriguing enough for most fans to sign on to this new adventure, even if it's very different from what we expect from the series.
Date: February 20, 2012