Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review #350: Siren - Blood Curse

 Not your every day Zombies.
 After Konami disbanded Team Silent, a few of its members regrouped and created the Siren horror series. Blood Curse is the third installment, and doubles as a remake of the first game. Not having played either of the previous games, I tackled this game as a stand-alone experience, and... there's a lot to say about it.

 The story is gonna be hit or miss with most people. The problem isn't with the story itself, but rather in the way it's told. Y'see, the game loves to take keep you in the dark, and it features a six character ensemble cast, and each character is the focus of every individual 'Mission', so the focus shifts around constantly, and characters mysteriously find themselves in different situations at a second's notice. You probably won't be able to make heads-or-tails of the gist of it up until chapter 10(Out of 12!!), when you are finally given a single hint about what the hell is going on. To add insult to injury, a ton of very, very important details are hidden away in the form of optional collectibles.  From what I could gather, the first game had even more main characters, so some of the new characters actually fill multiple roles, plus, while the original game was released on PS2 as a stand-alone disc, this game was released in different episodes, which probably explains why the narrative moves so dizzingly fast. Basically, the story is hard to follow, and even then, it's not very interesting. All you need to know is that a few characters find themselves in front of a sacrificial ritual, next thing they know they've all split apart and these zombie-like humanoids called Shibito are out for their blood.
 The game's sort of a Horror-stealth game. The game has about 26 different missions throughout 12 different chapters. Most chapters have 2 missions each, with a few having 3 instead, and each mission has almost nothing to do with each other... although every single environment is reused at least once, which is kinda cheap, but at least the enemy placement changes. A lot of the horror and tension come from the fact that when unarmed, you are basically helpless and must try to sneak by unnoticed, sometimes, you'll even have to escort another CPU through Shibito-infested areas. This is why the three chapters in which you play as the defenseless Bella are some of the best in the game, as getting caught is basically a game-over. But the other characters can find weapons, and, to be honest, as soon as you find a weapon any and all tension goes out the window, since combat favors the player and you can make short work out of 90% of the enemies. While Shibito cannot die, you can knock them out, and it takes a while for them to get up, honestly, as soon as I found a weapon I stopped sneaking around and just whacked my way through the game.

 To aid you in avoiding Shibito, or preferably finding a weapon, every character has the ability to 'Sightjack' the Shibito, basically, you can look through their eyes. Minus a few select instances, I never had to rely to much on it. Interestingly, the game can be played in both first person and third person viewpoints, and both work fairly well. What doesn't work so well are the annoying and unnecessary motion controls for getting up or shoving Shibito away from you.
 There's two difficulty settings, Normal and Easy, and Normal is just fine. As someone who isn't very proficient in stealth I had to retry a few bits, but as soon as I got a hold of a weapon, any weapon, it became smooth sailing. The game always points you in the right direction by giving you Objectives and marking most of them on your map, so it's very hard not to know what to do in order to progress.

 Visually the game is very dated, but the Shibito are incredibly creepy and there's some scary moments to be found in the game. I felt like a few areas were a bit too dark making it hard to know where I was going which could get a bit bothersome at times. I wasn't a fan of the Episodic nature either, I think that the game's story suffered a lot due to it and having to endure pseudo-recaps of the last moments I just watched when starting a new episode quickly grew irksome. And you can't skip them, since you'll miss out on some new bits at the end!
 Siren - Blood curse is far from the quality I expected out of ex-Silent Hill devs, and while there was a lot I didn't like, the game's fundamentals are sound and it delivers some honest-to-goodness scares without relying on jumpscares, which is always appreciated. As far as horror is concerned you could do much better, but this is still a nice change of pace from most gun-ho Survival Horror games like Resident Evil.
 7.0 out of 10

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