Friday, April 15, 2016

Now Playing: Silent Hill - Book of Memories

 W... what the hell is this... this thing??
 Look, I'm the kind of guy that is open to change. I'm open to franchises trying new things, I'm open to introducing new characters, to reboot games with entirely different premises. I am. As long as the game is competent, as long as the game is fun.

 Silent Hill Book of Memories is a mess. Let's start with the first thing that pops up in your face when you start the game: You have to select a trinket from about 8. You're told nothing about what these things are or what the hell they do. I thought I was picking a savefile. But whatever, maybe it's done on purpose, pick something and let it have a hidden bonus to your character. Whatever. Then you go into the character creator, and you have to pick a class from the very, very descriptive names such as 'Preppy', 'Goth' or 'Rocker'. How the hell am I supposed to know that Rocker gives you a plus to strength and vitality, or that Jock has better strength and dexterity? You don't. Best design choice ever. Ever.

 And don't let me get started on the menus, they are a mess, cramping a ton of options and choices between a lot of tabs. And as per usual, very little of what is what is told to the player. Just what is the 'VOIT' option on the 'Options' menu? and why is it grayed out? will somebody tell me? Please? And menus are explored with the touchscreen. Genius. Touch controls on menus work great as an alternative, since sometimes, it's more convenient. Not here, where buttons are very, very small. Menus are a mess, plain and simple. And the touchscreen is used to pick up stuff from the environment, for whatever reason. I hate it. And since I'm at it, the graphics. The graphics are terrible, my character's neck had missing polygons that let you see the bed through them. On the opening cutscene. Seriously, Konami, seriously?

 And then we get down to the gameplay. It's a Diablo clone. I love Silent Hill and I love Diablo. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did it, and that game was a blast! And this game was developed by Wayforward, it can't be bad, right? Right? It's pretty bad. Something I really like when it comes to dungeon crawling RPGs is getting all this different weapons, with different modifiers and seeing them on the character models. Here you do get different weapons... slabs of wood, knives, mauls... but without modifiers. It's pretty mundane stuff, which makes sense in a Survival Horror game, but it's downright lame on a dungeon crawling game. And apparently weapon types get stronger the more you use them, not that it matters since weapons break after a while. And y'know, that's borrowed from the other Silent Hill games, where it makes sense for weapons to be discarded just like that. But on a dungeon crawling game? Seriously? I like getting bigger, better, shinier weapons, not having a ton of dull, repetitive weapons that are meant to be discarded and disposed off.  What makes Dungeon Crawing games so addictive is growing stronger, getting better weapons and armors. There aren't even armor pieces in this game, it seems. Like what the hell, TMNT on the 3DS felt like a Diablo-lite, well, this is like a Diablo-lite-lite. Seriously.

 I only cleared one Zone, but everything seems to imply that there're no skills or active/passive skills... seriously? Look, Silent Hill games did their own thing, and they did it right. And I understand why they decided to borrow things from those games for this one, as to not alienate players, or to remind them of previous games... but things like disposable weapons that are meant to be discarded doesn't mesh well with this game. They should've done what TMNT did and build the game around the genre and not around the franchise. This feels like a poorly put together game that isn't too sure of what it wants to be. It's a Dungeon Crawler at its core, but it's missing its best elements. It tries to be a horror game, but it just isn't scary, having the flashlight affect the enemy's aggressiveness makes no sense when the game is built around defeating enemies. Why even have the flashlight? I mean, seriously man, it's such a useless mechanic. And if certain parts of the game, later down the line, force me into avoiding certain enemies... then they're doing something wrong, because this genre is about mowing down enemies, not avoiding them. And the loading times, sweet Jesus, the loading times...

 I really don't understand what they were thinking when they came up with this game. Maybe Wayforward was making another game and Konami coerced them into slapping the Silent Hill name on top of it? Maybe Konami wanted to take Silent Hill into this new direction but Wayforward tried to compromise by shoehorning Silent Hill enemies that made no sense on this genre? I... really don't understand. Who is this game meant to please? People that love the survival horror genre? They won't be happy with this game. People that love Dungeon Crawlers like Diablo? This won't satisfy them, it's missing some of its best, most addictive features. People that like both Silent Hill and Dungeon Crawlers? Not only is that audience smaller than the other two, but both Silent Hill and Dungeon Crawler elements don't mix well together, so it won't make them happy either.

 Silent Hill Book of Memories, so far, is nothing less than a mess. Conflicting ideas and a horrible interface... I really can't see this game getting any better.

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