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Our Premature Evaluation of Silent Hill Book of Memories

For the first time in the series’ history, Silent Hill is diving pyramid head first into the world of multiplayer gaming with the PS Vita exclusive Book of Memories. This is a serious gamble since this multiplayer isn’t just tacked on, it’s actually a main focus of the game. This means if the multiplayer sucks, then the main selling point is gone. It was originally planned to release near Downpour and the HD Collection in March, but Konami pulled it from the schedule at the very last second to the end of May. This could be a good thing because at the very least it’s getting some extra time for added spit and polish. Read on to find out what TJ and I think of this ambitious game’s chances of success.

The Visuals

Adam: Visually, Book of Memories is a pretty decent looking game. If you were to show me a screenshot before the game was announced I would’ve said, “Hey, which Silent Hill is that?” Then if you had followed up the first screenshot with another showing the co-op, I would’ve immediately burned you at the stake for your blasphemous Photoshoppery. Overall, it looks to be taking advantage of the Vita’s powerful graphics capabilities, so that’s promising.

TJ: I always keep in mind when making judgments on handheld games that they’re handheld games. They can’t put up the same graphics as the bigger brother systems, but a lot of them can still look damn good. It’s funny that you said “ It looks to be taking advantage of the Vita’s powerful graphics capabilities.”. Because a preview I just read from IGN said the game wasn’t using the full power of the Vita. So from that I must draw my own conclusion. It looks good, but for a game who’s camera is set fairly far away from the actual battles and events on the screen, we don’t truly know how good the graphics could have been. I would have been happier seeing a “normal” style Silent Hill game on the Vita, but I’m also excited to see how Book of Memories turns out.

Adam: I can’t say for sure how far it’s pushing the Vita’s capabilities as I haven’t played the game myself, but from what I’ve seen it’s a not an ugly game. A couple extra months of development could mean it’ll look even better.

The Gameplay

Adam: This is one of the many, many things I’m worried about. Like, if I were to make a list at the tippy top would be the multiplayer, followed closely by the studio Konami chose to develop it (you gave it to the Bloodrayne: Betrayal developer? Seriously, Konami?), and right after that would be the gameplay. As a whole, Silent Hill has never really excelled in this department, so it’s only natural to worry, but it’s when you add to the Vita’s unique controls where I really start to worry. I don’t mind a little clunkiness in my survival horror games, it comes with the territory, but I’m still not convinced they’ll be able to use the Vita’s controls in interesting ways. Book of Memories also features a top-down isometric view (where the camera is high above your character), light RPG elements, and degradable weapons–similar to Downpour and Origins.

TJ: I think I’m actually way less worried about this than I should be. Games like this in my opinion almost can’t fail when it comes to gameplay. It’s such a basic style, the top down shooter. A lot of chaos and running around, still fairly simple because the gameplay needs to work well with fighting hordes and hordes of monsters. I love the idea of breakable weapons and RPG elements. It really changes it up from the classic top down shooter. Shooting the same laser beam at enemies for hours and hours. I love that you’ll have to scour for weapons, and I’m hoping for some major choice and diversity between them.

The Multiplayer

Adam: Oh yes, the multiplayer. On one side, Book of Memories was built from the ground up to support four player co-op, but on the other, fuck multiplayer. Really, why defile one of the last remaining survival horror franchises with a feature that doesn’t mesh with it? It’s natural for Resident Evil because by now that series is another installment away from becoming Gears of War With Zombies.

TJ: I like this Evaluation because we are hot and cold, left and right, lady and man, right and wrong, penis and balls….ahem…. I think multiplayer fits as well as a penis and a vagina. Pardon the anatomy analogies, but seriously this is the type of game that should be played with friends. This feature does mesh because this isn’t a traditional Silent Hill. Top down shooters should always be multiplayer.

Adam: I suppose my main issue is they aren’t just fiddling with the Silent Hill formula here, they’re completely changing everything I love about the series. To me, it feels like this was a game that started off as a brand new action horror IP before an exec decided it’d sell better if it had Silent Hill attached to the title (this wouldn’t be the first time this has happened). If they want to change everything fans love about the series, because that’s exactly what they’re doing with Book of Memories, then why not make this a brand new game? It isn’t scary, the puzzles are gone, the gameplay is more action driven, I could go on and on. This isn’t Silent Hill, so there’s no point in throwing in a few familiar faces to pretend like it is.

TJ: I guess we should just be happy this is pretty much the first time this has happened. I mean, look at Resident Evil. For at least the past 10 years we’ve had watered down, shitty iterations of the series shoved down our throats. Mobile versions, Wii versions, remakes, rehashes, the list goes on. Let’s just hope if Book of Memories flops, they realize their mistakes and leave them in the past.

The Story

Adam: This could very well be the only part of this game I’m not too worried about. It’s non-canonical, like pretty much every other game in the series, and brings with it a mostly new cast of characters that you create. Some familiar faces from past games, including a few from the series’ massive roster of enemies will make an appearance as well.

TJ: I’m not expecting anything out of the story really. Again, going back to the top down shooter style, there aren’t many of those types of games that have an engaging story. If anything I’ll be happy to see some dialogue, or be scared by the game at all, but I’m not expecting much.

Adam: I always go into my Silent Hills expecting an interesting story, because that’s one of the things that’s remained consistent over the course of the series. Just because it’s a top down shooter doesn’t give them an excuse to give us a crappy story. I’m hoping for something along the lines of the PS3 exclusive Dead Nation, because this looks pretty similar to it in that it’s a top-down four-player co-op horror game (hyphen extravaganza!), and Dead Nation managed to have an engaging story, though the characters were largely forgettable. Hopefully Book of Memories will excel in both departments.

TJ: That would be great, but I’m still skeptical.

Final Thoughts

Adam: I’m expecting this to be a total failure that won’t please very many fans of the series. It might be worth checking out if you desperately need something to play on your Vita, but otherwise this is almost definitely going to end up being one of the worst games in the Silent Hill franchise. To me, this feels like it should’ve been an experiment best released for $10 on PSN or Xbox Live, rather than a full release on a new handheld that’s still trying to prove itself. On the bright side, it’ll bring with it a new Dan Licht soundtrack.

TJ: Book Of Memories is so far from a Silent Hill game it shouldn’t even have Silent Hill in the title. I’m more expecting the game just to be a fun romp through Silent Hill, with some sweet locations, familiar enemies, and good fun with a friend. I’m not expecting a life altering story like Silent Hill 2 delivered, but I still think the game will be fun to play through.

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