Silent Hill: Book Of Memories PS Vita review – A new perspective swaps horror for hacking
Silent Hill used to be the high watermark of videogame terror, spreading its influence wide enough that every oiled, jittery horror reminded fans of the gruelling Konami franchise. But despite having all the hallmarks of the series, Book Of Memories is an unhygienic relative, bearing a name it scarcely deserves.
Silent Hill Book Of Memories PS Vita review
Instead of using Vita’s power to give you a full third-person palm-nightmare, this is an unusual isometric affair. You clomp around boxy rooms, segmented with by corridors, searching for the puzzle pieces necessary to unlock the exit. It most resembles PSN bughunt Alien Breed Evolution and, unfortunately, Team17’s shooter packs more chills.
Here’s the problem: there’s more tension in an overwashed sock than there is in Book Of Memories. Yes, you’re fighting moany, bobbleheaded nurses, but there’s no rush of horror as they stutter down dark corridors towards you. Instead, you blindly hammer attacks until each room is empty. Buttering toast is a more tactical affair.
In terms of narrative, it’s more a mix of sub-stories than a cohesive, overarching tale. Your customisable character receives the titular book as a birthday present, which gives them the power to alter their life. One moment you’re flicking through the book, the next you’re trapped in a nightmarish world of fire, picking up notes about someone named Derek. The story unfolds like a suspicious tissue as you collect snippets of each tale, but there’s no sense of progression. Worlds are separated into themes, but the levels are largely identical. Same monsters, same environments, same tedious hunt for keys.
It’s interesting that this is the opposite of Shattered Memories, where fleeing was your only option. The heavy emphasis on combat – and, crucially, how easy combat is – means there’s nothing to be scared of. You can take on the wrath of the underworld with guns, mauls and swords, and the effect is that your character never feels as vulnerable or human as a Heather, James or Harry. While even a poor Silent Hill game – we’re looking at you, Downpour – can feel enjoyable in a B-movie way, this falls into an entirely different section. A section marked ‘asscakes’.
It’s disheartening stuff, especially when the core product shows a glimmer of promise. The combat feels out of place, but as an all-out scrap it still has a moderately compelling, repetitive thump. The presence of multiplayer dulls the boredom, but halves the scares.
Even without the disappointment of the squandered IP this would be a sub-par experience. Monsters bumble into you as you enter new rooms. Aiming, blocking and dodging are an awkward morass of confused digits. But it’s the repetition that grinds you down. Boss battles provide brief breaks in the monotony, but they’re just the seeping gizzard of consolation inside a disappointing, fleshy haystack.