Posted on June 7, 2012 AT 09:45am
When a series has been around for quite a while, sometimes it’s necessary to shake things up a bit. This can be especially true when a game makes the leap to a portable console. Silent Hill: Book of Memories is a perfect example of a spin-off that is looking to take advantage of the PlayStation Vita hardware and create a unique experience of the handheld.
The game starts you right off by letting you customize your character. Male and female characters are available and from there, you style your characters from archetypes such as goth or bookworm. You can mix and match as well, so if you want to have a goth face with bookworm hair, you’ve got the ability. There are also accessories, but not a ton of options to start off; as you earn the in-game currency however, you’re able to unlock lots of new goodies to jazz them up. Customizing my character, I didn’t get it looking quite like I wanted, but I was happy enough with him. I didn’t have too much trouble with the hair, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to find cargo pants in a character creator.
Once you’ve created your character, they immediately throw you into a cutscene where you get a package delivered to your apartment with a return address of Silent Hill. After reading the book a bit and then turning in for the night, you get immediately thrown into the action. The levels consist of several rooms connected by small hallways and an overhead view of you character. Some of the rooms just had a few enemies and some loot. In these areas, you can shine your flashlight around the room and the objects that can be looted will turn red. Looting can net you some great stuff like health and ammo packs, weapons and even keys to unlock nearby doors. You have to watch out though, because the flashlight can make some of the enemies more aggressive. I guess it makes sense, I would be pissed too if someone shined a flashlight in my face.
To deal with those angry foes, weapons can be dual-wielded and include anything from a knife to a handgun. You can also earn special weapons for completing special tasks in each zone. I earned a giant spiky mace, which made smacking around baddies a ton of fun in the next zone. After exploring a bit, you might come across one of the special rooms in these randomly generated levels. There is an item shop where you can purchase things like weapons or artifacts that can boost your abilities. Some areas have a glowing orb in the middle which will activate an enemy encounter. Once you’ve defeated them all, you’ll earn a puzzle piece which is required to exit the level. After you’ve collected all the puzzle pieces, you can activate the final puzzle and move on to the next zone. Often there are hints strewn about the area to help solve that final puzzle. After three zones have been completed, you’ll face a boss monster. Combine that with the fact that you can play with up to four people, online or local, and you’ve got yourself a party.
So, where is the Silent Hill in all of this? The enemies and environments are going to be where you’ll find the influence of the series. Monsters are lifted straight from the older Silent Hill games and the areas you explore fit right in with the universe the series is built upon. To be honest, if you’re coming into this experience expecting a traditional Silent Hill game, you’re likely to be a bit disappointed. If you take the game for what it is, a fun spin-off set in the same universe, then you’re likely to ease up a bit and really enjoy the game. The pace set by traveling from room to room was a bit different and had much more of an action feel, but all in all I really enjoyed my time with this Vita exclusive. Now I can’t wait to earn myself a pyramid head accessory when the game comes out this October.
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