The Silent Hill series has gone
through peaks and troughs throughout its existence. It has had
a great deal of difficulty in returning to its former glory, as
has much of the survival horror genre in general. Book of
Memories takes the series in a new direction with the game play
and moving away from the traditional psychological horror that
Silent Hill is known for.
The story is focused on a player
defined character finding a book containing all of his/her
memories in great detail. The character then decides to see
what would happen if they changed some things in that book. The
world then goes into typical Silent Hill territory where
creepiness and weirdness ensues. Fans of the series may enjoy
the story, keeping in mind that it is a spin-off and not a
strict following of the Silent Hill universe.
The game play has gone through the
biggest shift the series has seen since its inception. Book of
Memories ditches the usual third person perspective in favour of
an isometric overhead camera with hack ‘n’ slash combat. There
is little suspense with fighting creatures with this new take.
Some rooms even require that you defeat all the enemies before
you can move on. The game play is fairly fluid and works, but
fans of the series will likely be disappointed with this shift
in focus. This shift will not appeal to the hardcore Silent
Hill fans, but for those who enjoy the universe and hack ‘n’
slash adventures this change may be seen as a positive. Silent
Hill is not exactly renowned for its controls.
Book of Memories is also the first
in the series to feature RPG elements. These were fairly
limited and did not really offer much to the whole experience.
You can also equip artefacts to boost certain attributes. There
are a number of collectibles through the various levels. In
order to pass each level a certain number of puzzle pieces must
be collected. Book of Memories is essentially a dungeon
crawler that is featured in the Silent Hill universe.
The combat has changed
dramatically, moving away the everyman character type where the
character is not a seasoned action hero. There feels as though
the enemies pose very little threat in Book of Memories, being
able to defeat rooms full on even the first level. Two weapons
can also be equipped, or a single two handed weapon. There is
also plenty of ammo around, another major change and altering
the weight of when the guns are actually used. The rooms that
are behind closed doors are blacked out, this does bring back
some of the surprise of what is through that next door. But
there is very little atmosphere in the levels as a whole, this
is what is missing most from Book of Memories.
The graphics are simple, with
simple models of all the characters. A bit more could of been
done n this respect. The animations are smooth and everything
runs at a steady frame rate. The levels look good, the
backgrounds attempt to create atmosphere and the style has been
taken from previous Silent Hill games, but there is just
something missing. The style does suit the shift in focus
towards a dungeon crawler though. The areas are highly
detailed, but I would have liked to have seen more with the
characters. I did really like that the torch was needed to look
around most of the rooms, this was a bit of a throwback to
The sound effects are well done,
this has always been one of the strengths of the Silent Hill
series and here is no different. The voce acting is generally
well done, with occasional hiccups, but overall was effective.
Book of Memories will disappoint
those purists who are not happy with the changes made to the
series. For those looking for a dungeon crawler RPG based in
the Silent Hill universe this is absolutely ideal. The story
will likely be enjoyable for those who like the Silent Hill
universe and are willing to give this a try may be pleasantly
surprised. Book of Memories is a spin-off title and is fairly
successful in the process, it takes a shift in mindset to enjoy
for fans but there is a great deal here for those willing to
make this change.