Silent Hill: Downpour wasn’t a misstep for the series; it just wasn’t handled as well as it could have been. The new Silent Hill: Book Of Memories, on the other hand, is a poorly handled misstep. It is a game that makes no sense in the context of the franchise and, aside from that, it just isn’t very much fun to play.
A top-down dungeon-crawler isn’t the likeliest of suggestions when brainstorming the next chapter in a long-running survival horror series, but that’s what we’re met with in Book Of Memories. Playing through a couple of dozen zones in the main campaign, the formula remains disconcertingly similar throughout: find puzzle pieces, find the exit, solve a puzzle, move on to the next level.
In each zone you can access other, special rooms – shops, areas providing more back story and so on – but it’s not the sort of experience where you’ll find yourself trying your best to try to open each room and explore every nook and cranny, even if it doesn’t take that long to finish any given level.
This is because it’s just not much fun. Combat is base-level nonsense and there’s a lot of it, with players able to wield a variety of weapons, one-handed, two-handed, dual-wielding and projectile variations all popping up. But all it boils down to is using the half-functioning lock-on system, which will lock to a new enemy when the last target is killed, but not actually bring up any of their information on screen, requiring a second press of the button while hammering square and triangle until everything around you is dead. Some enemies, like the butcher, might need a bit of blocking thrown in for good measure, but the ability to dodge and counter is rendered almost pointless by the fact that you can spam your way through 90 per cent of encounters.
But hey, at least there are puzzles, right? Puzzles that are nearly identical on every zone, rendering them boring, not fun and utterly pointless. Place statues, vases or other in order. That’s it. It’s not the worst game ever, of course. With more people playing, it’s sure to be a bit of fun, however long that lasts, and those who stick with it will see a massive supply of randomly generated levels once the main story is completed, potentially keeping you going for a long time.
But it’s not a horror experience. There are attempts to slap on some kind of Silent Hill-esque story to everything, but it’s utterly worthless. Silent Hill: Book Of Memories is a shallow dungeon-crawler, with even the likes of Dungeon Hunter: Alliance providing more fun. It is, in short, a failure; not the sort of thing we want from Silent Hill, nor the sort of thing we want for the Vita.