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PlayStation Vita  header logo

Silent Hill: Book of Memories

For: PS Vita

Some things are best forgotten

Product: Silent Hill: Book of Memories | Developer: WayForward | Publisher: Konami | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Action, Adventure | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Silent Hill: Book of Memories PS Vita, thumbnail 1
Of the many great things about the Silent Hill series down the years, possibly the last thing you'd be inclined to wax lyrical about is the game's clunky combat.

And yet Konami, in its infinite wisdom, has elected to turn out a top-down PS Vita exclusive that focuses entirely on the combat element of this celebrated survival-horror

Things hardly get off to a stellar start when Silent Hill: Book Of Memories presents you the choice of dressing your (otherwise generic) male or female character in goth, preppy, rocker, jock, or bookworm attire. It'd be amusing if it wasn't so depressingly indicative of how little WayForward Technologies cares about the series.

Please Mr Postman

From there, the game conjures up a passable impersonation of a classic Silent Hill scenario, but fluffs its lines in record time. A mysterious postman delivers you a book, with every memory you've ever had in it - but, rather than run screaming from your apartment, you utter the magic words, "what happens if I re-write it?"

I'll tell you what happens: you find yourself hopelessly trapped in the nightmarish sub-reality of the dullest hack 'n' slash game published on a major handheld gaming platform in recent memory.

Each of the game's levels (or "zones") plays out roughly the same way. You wander through a series of interconnected rooms on a mission to destroy any shambling nasties that happen to get in your way.

As a result of the game's designers giving the tiniest of nods to the Silent Hill lineage, you'll encounter the kind of writhing faceless nurses and two-headed dogs that once proved so chilling, but now serve as little more than hapless melee fodder.

Riddle me this

En route, you'll also have to patiently scour each room for keys, weapons, health packs, ammo, and money, though the central purpose is to collect a handful of puzzle pieces.

Once you have those, a rather limp puzzle box tasks you with placing them in the correct order to unlock the subsequent section.

But, to actually get your hands on these pieces, unsurprisingly, you are forced to smash blue Challenge Orbs to trigger combat face-offs. You know the kind - you're trapped in a room, and have to finish off a gaggle of enemies before they'll eventually surrender the goods.

It wouldn't be so bad if the game featured any kind of serviceable melee system, but for the most part it's pathetically basic. You either opt for the quicker but less powerful attack with the Square button, or the chargeable heavy attack.

You can also unleash a move that knocks back your foe temporarily (essential for clusters of heavily armoured Needlers), or just pull out a firearm and unleash a few rounds when things get a bit overwhelming.

Admittedly, these encounters get progressively more stressful as the story unfolds, and a modicum of strategy is required before you wade in. You might, for example, save up one of your collectible double damage specials for when you really need it, or save up your bullets.

Planned obsolescence

Keeping your weapons intact is another element that you have to pay attention to. The more you use them, the more wear and tear they incur, so you have to ensure that you have Tool Kits in stock to repair them. This becomes essential if you want to keep rare, powerful weapons from breaking for good.

While these ideas probably sounded good on paper, the reality is that the further you progress, the harder it gets, and the more annoying the whole sorry affair becomes.

For instance, when you die (which will be more frequent as you progress), it takes an interminable amount of time to get back into the action. And if you haven't reached a save point, then you'll be unceremoniously dumped back to the start of the zone.

If such major annoyances don't trouble you, then you might even be receptive to the game's RPG-esque levelling-up system, but we're talking OCD levels of dedication before you start to really see the benefit of them. Given that your enemies get increasingly harder to defeat throughout the game, all you're doing is levelling-up at the same speed as they are.


And it's much the same story with the game's Karma system. Essentially, when you kill something, it drops a white or red puddle on the floor - collecting one or the other affects your alignment. The problem is that most of the time you wind up collecting both by mistake while you're flailing around, and your alignment stays roughly mid-level as a result. Great.

Offering multiplayer gameplay (either ad hoc or over the internet) may have given the game a welcome co-operative element if the core gameplay was strong. But, all it does is throw up other problems, such as who gets the resources. You can bark requests at your fellow players via the D-pad, but the chances are they'll need them themselves. Hey ho.

If you were being generous, it might be possible to give WayForward a sliver of credit for trying something new, but when the net result is this bad, it's hard not to ponder what the point of this release is.

Silent Hill: Book Of Memories is neither an adequate action-RPG, nor a survival-horror title in even the vaguest sense. But, there's minor cause for celebration for Silent Hill fans: at least things can only get better from here.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Reviewer photo
Kristan Reed | 24 October 2012
At best, it's a bland, repetitive Silent Hill-skinned dungeon-crawling grind. At worst, it's a vacuous vandalism of a treasured horror brand
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