Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Silent Hill: Book of Memories Demo, You Say?
So, I have actually been waiting with something resembling morbid curiosity for the last few months as word of Silent Hill: Book of Memories started to track out there and impressions started popping up, mostly from people who hadn't experienced the game in any fashion beyond looking at things for it. My interest in it is basically that it is a game for the Vita, as I'm not much of a fan of roguelikes, and I've always experienced Silent Hill on the outside, shall we say. In layman's terms, I mean that I am a giant chicken baby and have never played a Silent Hill game proper beyond enough time to play Silent Hill 1, get scared by the giant moth thing that very well may have simply been a giant moth at the very start of the game and presumably I shut off my PS2 (since, yeah, BC) and cried in the corner like a small child. Also I played like half of Origins on PSP and just got bored with it. So I am only a Silent Hill fan in the sense that most people are football fans - not once have they ever really picked up a football, nor have they really 'experienced' the game, nor the team sensibility, but they have something of a vested interest in it anyway. (Yes, I just mentioned Silent Hill and Football in the same breath. That just happened.)
Impressions have been a wide bag between people who are Silent Hill 'purists' shitting all over the game because it is clearly not a Silent Hill game, to people expressing interest because it's certainly not a combination you would -expect- to hear, to people just saying "Huh, I guess that looks pretty good" or similarly, "Huh, that doesn't look very good". Basically what I'm saying is that there is no real consensus out there yet for how we are all 'meant' to feel about the game as it often happens so I'm free to really just say what I think without wondering if I'm bucking the trend, going with the flow or what have you. Not that I -care- one way or another about that sort of thing, but it is something that does get brought up every now and again, so it is a thought that crosses my mind every now and then. It's just a liberating sort of feeling being out there with a game that is still kind of up in the air so far as "it could work" goes since the real proof for this kind of thing is strictly in the playing of it.
I am all at once impressed, intrigued and confused by Silent Hill: Book of Memories after playing around with the demo for a good half hour, I believe it was. As a game, it's fairly accomplished - a roguelike dungeon crawler that presents you with a certain artistic direction and at least a semblance of a reason as to why you're actually crawling through said dungeon. As something to do with Silent Hill, and again I am no means an expert here, it's....not so great. It's one of those setups where the game is there and it feels like they just sort of attached a name to it instead of trying to establish it as a new IP. I'm a dude in a place bashing the Hellhounds and Nurses to death with 2x4's and lead pipes, but it's less like Silent Hill 1/2's: Aaaaahhhh what the fuck is happening aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh run away, kill it I dunno haaaaaaalp, and more like Silent Hill Homecoming/Origins': Alright who's next? The guy about to leap out from over there? Okay, gonna smash ya. It's all the paint with none of the aesthetic, is the point I think I'm trying to get across here, but I suppose that's not necessarily a bad thing.
That it's somewhat loosely attached to Silent Hill doesn't detract from the game itself, and it's kind of an interesting theory behind it from what little bit I've been exposed to with the demo. At the start of it, we're introduced very.....very slightly to a main character, perhaps -the- main character, who has a book delivered to him on his birthday from Silent Hill which apparently sends up no red flags other than that he doesn't know anybody from Silent Hill. The Postman just sort of chuckles and states "Oh, I don't know. People get around these days...." before leaving. Inside the book, our demo hero discovers that it chronicles his entire life to that point, his memories on every page of the book up to and including the meeting with the post man and the delivery of the book. Being a stunning paragon of common sense, he decides to write something in this book of his memories because that never goes poorly, and then goes to sleep. He 'awakes' in the Nightmare that is the Silent Hill dungeon layout of Book of Memories and the game sort of just goes from there.
Something that I believe is a first for the series as a whole is that it features a merchant who is, in fact our friendly post man who has a shop on possibly every floor of the dungeon that just requires a little finding. The currency is memory remnants which is something that I'm not even going to bother trying to wrap my mind around and for an amount, he will sell you obvious things like weapons to carry, first-aid kits, upgrades to your backpack and the like and you can also bring him things to sell - basically what was mentioned already. What's a little finnicky for me personally is the fact that the weapons in the game are finite - you can find a few in just about every other room, but that's because they have a durability meter indicated by what color the weapon is - green is good, red means it's going to break. As such, I'm not quite sure where the compulsion is to buy a weapon from the Postman when it is going to break and money is not something that just everything drops like in your average dungeon-crawler. Though I'm not about to get upset that I can grab some weapons scattered around the floor and make them into money for little to no reason.
What I -can- say about the game is that I'm pretty much going to keep playing the demo for a time - see if it actually saves progress like I think it does in the books scattered around the floors, or if I have to start anew each time. Neither would hamper my interest so much as it's only a demo and I want to experience it a few times over before I'm fully equipped to deliver anything resembling a verdict on it. Still, I think one of the main purposes of a demo is to present a game that you might be interested in playing and Wayforward has certainly crafted something here that I am interested in playing, albeit for free and as a demo. Whether I will put money down for it is up in the air as, if I do, it will certainly be down the line a bit unless I catch a windfall, and my desire to do so will hinge on repeated playthroughs of the demo to get used to the roguelike thing all over again. My main beef is the random dungeons since it rarely feels like there's anything 'crafted' to them - it's just interchangeable rooms and hallways randomly pieced together and I'm not really for that. Still, like I said, I'm planning on playing BoM some more, and that's probably some high praise right there.