Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Developer: WayForward Technologies
North American Release Date: October 16th, 2012
European Release Date: November 2nd, 2012
Officially the first Silent Hill game to grace the Vita. This time around, the series has taken a major change in gameplay. Book of Memories is a Dungeon Crawler RPG, and for the first time in the series, added 4 player co-op. Many fans have considered the game to be blasphemy to the series. So has Silent Hill taken its final turn for the worse, or has this been a revival for the series?
As most dungeon crawlers you will see nowadays, BoM has its camera in the overhead perspective instead of a third person view. This is perhaps the most drastic change you will see from the other games in the series. You will see that it is very similar to Diablo, or the Dungeon Hunter series’. You will play most of the game from this perspective, with the exception of a few rooms you will be entering.
Combat in the game can be quite repetitive, and you will notice this right away when playing. Once you get further in the game though, you will find that there is much more to it than just simple hack-n-slash. There is this Karma system in the game where you will pick up either Red Blood Splatter, or Light/white Blood Splatter (would have made more sense if they called it ashes). Once picking either up, a bar in the top right of the screen will fill in either directions of the one for Red, or the one for Light. Once these bars have progressed far enough, you can use spell abilities to either heal you and your teammates, or take down enemies. The Light side has three healing spells, while the Red side has three damaging spells. This was a neat feature that definitely shifted the tide of the game at times, and made it more apparent for you to pick up the right blood type while avoiding the other.
Taking down a big boss while duel wielding SMG's couldn't be better... "Die Bitch!!!"
There are quite a bit of weapons in the game as well. Ranging from Pyramid Head’s Knife, to Bogey Man’s hammer, the game covered most types of weapons, even machine guns and flamethrowers. Like it was with many SH games, the weapons broke down, so you usually were never able to hold onto a weapon for a very long time. Later on in the game, you found repair tools to repair weapons, but you usually didn’t want to use them until you actually got something good. I enjoyed using many of the weapons and experimenting on what to use on each creature as I progressed.
The game also featured a shop that you could find within each Zone. These shops you could buy anything with MR(Memory Residue) that you found or collected from selling items. The shop offered many weapons, your basic items, artifacts, power ups/spells you could buy, and even customization items so you could fit your character how you would like. The shop had everything that you really wanted in the game.
With the game being a Dungeon Crawler it is an RPG as well, although, the RPG elements in the game are quite basic. There is a leveling system where you can select the stats you choose to improve upon once growing a level, customization to your character, leveling the weapons used, and that is just about it. It’s more of a lazy RPG than anything else.
The story of the game starts out with you getting this book for your birthday from who you find later to be the shop keeper in the game. Once you open the book you find all your whole life’s story within it. Then you wonder what would happen if you changed the things written in it, hence the reason you end up in Silent Hill, or is it Silent Hill? I do not know because the story was that difficult to follow.
You only saw 2 cut-scenes throughout the entirety of the game, and that was at the beginning and the end. The story unfolds by you either finding Notes scattered throughout the levels, or by Broadcasts which came through TV’s you found. At times this really made no sense at all. You had no idea what was going on most of the time due to the fact that you found random notes and heard random broadcasts as well. Once you went through much of the game and found many notes you had a little bit of an idea of what was going on.
When playing alone, in some Zones there was a “Forsaken Room”. In these rooms, you have to act a certain way, or pull something off to get a Bad, Good, or Neutral ending to it. These forced you to experiment around so you could get different results and learn what happened in these rooms. These rooms were the only time in the game where the camera faced more down, giving a different perspective of the experience.
In a way, the forsaken rooms were a puzzle on their own... "So I kill the child for the Good ending, right!?!"
The levels in the games were called Zones, and there were three Zones per element, Fire, Wood, Light, Water, Earth, Blood and Steel, in that order. After completing three Zones you had to fight the “Guardian” of that Zone’s element. These were quite fun to just see the different bosses and to play against them, as well as learning the strategy to defeat them.
Like most SH games, BoM has puzzles that came after each Zone. In each Zone you collected dolls or some other unusual object that varied by size or color. Once you collected all the objects needed, you went to the end of the Zone and had to figure out what order you needed to put them in. This was quite repetitive to do because it was always “put them in this order” type of puzzles.
One thing I certainly did enjoy was that at the beginning of each Zone you were greeted by Valtiel, who always seemed like a monster you were going to fight, the messenger of God. Valtiel gives you a second mission to accomplish while in the Zone, and if completed, he rewarded you with a special item at the end of the Zone. I always strived to complete these side missions, as the rewards were always good.
As much as many hate the fact that it is in the game, it does make the experience that much better. Being able to play with people was quite the delight, as it added much more replayabilty to the whole experience. Whenever I was stuck, I could have jumped online to get help from people. Whenever I wanted to level up more, I could have easily joined another person’s game who was much further ahead in the game with tougher enemies.
Working with people to get some loot is one of the many thrills when playing BoM online.
When I was playing, it seemed as though there was no courtesy for all players. With the game being a Dungeon Crawler, and there being loot at every corner, no one was willing to share or take turns. Even though this is not the games fault but the communities instead, it would have been practical for them to make it so you could divide up the loot, similar to Dungeon Hunter. I ended up losing much of the stuff I deserved, due to greedy people, even when I was trying to share.
One thing I was really frustrated with was that keys that opened up new paths were only able to be picked up by one person. Meaning, if a guy didn’t want to open a door at the right time, he didn’t have to. He could have made the whole team wait for him while he is busy at the shop or doing God knows what in the real world.
The games sound is top-notch. The quality and sound effects were just as good as all the other SH games, if not better. Certain weapons sounded just as they needed to, the music fit every atmosphere I walked into, the moans and groans of the creatures were right on when I hit them. It was nearly perfect. Also, just to mention I loved the song in the menu, as I sometimes listened to it for couple minutes doing nothing else. Later on I downloaded it, and listened to most of the soundtrack on Youtube.
The graphics on the other hand were nothing special, though they really were not that bad most of the time. When in the menu you see a close up of you character and their room, seeing the graphics looks like an old PS2 game. In game though, and seeing the game from the top view, it definitely doesn’t look all that bad. It actually looks just like how you would expect it to really. Going in between the rooms in each zone you saw the background of every area, and these certainly looked like how you would expect a dungeon crawler to. No where near the best but definitely not bad.
It really is nice to see a game that runs just as smooth online, as it does offline.
Multiplayer wise, there was one thing that made my experience to my liking and another that made me hate it.
First, what I loved about it was that 95% of the time I experienced no lag, what-so-ever. It ran just as smoothly as it did online as it did offline, no matter how many people joined. This was one of the most shocking things for me to see a game like this to have hardly any lag. Also, I don’t think I had people disconnect that were already in game without them purposely quitting. They usually told us or held still while we waited for them, and then they left.
A serious problem that I hated with the mp technically was that it was so hard to get into a game. Not only was it hard to just find someone playing, due to the little community, but it was difficult just to get in a room with them as well. There were times that I just gave up trying, due to the fact that I didn’t want to deal with a pop up screen telling me “unable to connect” anymore.
The trophies in BoM are somewhat similar to Downpour’s in that you must obtain all the endings in the game. You also have to collect all notes, weapons, broadcasts, and artifacts in the game as well, which shouldn’t be too difficult. There is also a rank up all the way to level 50 trophy, which will take some serious time to do. That’s not that hardest part about the trophy list though. The hardest most difficult trophy to earn is play all the way up to Zone 100. The first 21 Zones are the basic story Zones, and all after that is just repeat of zones, just they’re much, and I mean much harder as you get even further. I only saw a couple people online who had played up to Zone 50. I tried playing with them this one time, but my level 20 player could not handle, it was so difficult. I do not know what I am going to do when I get that high. It seems that 4 player co-op is a must.
You will not play BoM and think it is the best SH in the series, nor will you see it as the revitalization the series needed. No, but you will find some fun elements with some receptiveness here and there. BoM may not be the perfect Silent Hill game or the greatest game on the Vita, but it is still fun and worth at least a try. I would even say it is one of the better Dungeon Crawlers that has come out recently, as it is... different.
Very repetitive, but strangely addicting. Enough here to keep to you playing for a while.
A throwaway story that is only there is you choose to look for it. It can be fun, could have been so much better.
It may not be welcomed by fans, but it still makes the game that much better by having it. It’s completely optional too, so no reason to dismiss it.
Great in the sound department, lacking graphically and very mixed with the online features.