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Siren: Blood Curse Review

September 29, 2008

Siren: Blood Curse is a survival horror, download-only title available exclusively on the Playstation Network. The game differs in that it is downloadable in Episodes rather than as a whole game. There are 12 Episodes in total and can be bought individually or as a package for a slight discount.

Story

A village has a terrible curse unfold on it, turning it’s population into Shibito, or “zombies”. A group of people stumble upon the town and are trying to both figure out what is going on and escape.

The story of Siren is told by playing as multiple characters and piecing the story together through their encounters. I really enjoy the way this is done and really sets up the story well. Each episode basically consists of having you play as two different characters. I like how this gives you a different perspective on what is happening throughout the game.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Siren has you control the character from a third-person perspective. There are multiple objects you can pick up to use as weapons ranging from pipes, to knives, to guns. The controls work fairly well but aren’t without their problems. The biggest problem I have with them is that the camera controls is waaaaaaaay too sensitive. This would be fine if there were a sensitivity setting but there isn’t. This basically makes the camera adjustment near useless.

The game does have a very neat use of the Sixaxis in that it is used to reload your weapon and is also used to brace doors. This is great useage but also can be unresponsive. Unfortunately I found myself simply pressing Triangle to reload my weapon as the Sixaxis didn’t work well in a jam.

Some characters also get to use a “sight-jack” ability which allows you to look through the eyes of the Shibito. This is useful for seeing if Shibito are on the other side of a door, or ensuring a companion is still safe. Sight-jacking allows you to actually split the screen so that you can monitor a shibito or companion while you go about your missions.

The game itself is a bit too linear for my liking in the missions. It’s basically “do this, go here, do this” rinse and repeat. There is some room for exploration to find new weapons or hidden items but the level design is pretty linear.

The atmosphere is where Siren really shines. I was literally on edge for most of the game. The Shibito are creepy enough and there’s some very disturbing creatures in the game. One of the more disturbing moments was when I called an elevator and when the door opened, a Shibito nurse pushing a blob of brains in a wheelchair was what I was greeted with. There is also a level in which you’re in a house with very narrow hallways and doors all over the place. This was one creepy level as you would be walking and hear something behind you, only to turn and see a shibito running at you with a sharp object. Again, this is a game you truly need to play in the dark.

Extras/Online

Siren has a multitude of hidden items you can find throughout the game. If you open up your collection log you can read each of these items to gain a little more knowledge about the characters and the story.

There is no online mode to siren, nor are there any trophies. However, let me note here about the download process of the game:

Since the game is sold by episode, there are 12 episodes to download. Even if you purchase the full game like I did, you still download each episode individually. This is good and bad at the same time.

Good, because you can start playing an episode while another is downloading.
Bad, because each episode is approx. 1 gb meaning it takes forever to download and consumes a ton of hard drive space.

Overall though, I feel the way the game was sold was good in that it captures the feel and pace of the game accurately.

Graphics/Audio

The graphics in Siren are fairly good. The art style is very dark, gritty, and grainy and adds to the raw feel of the game. I actually like this choice of visual style as it adds to the scare factor. The animations in the game are surprisingly good. Parts reminded me of Uncharted where a character will have to climb up onto a roof of a building. All of this looked fluid and was animated well.

The audio features decent voice acting. There are moments when it sounds like a greatly acted tv show, and there’s moments where it sounds like the original Resident Evil *shudders*. The atmospheric music and sounds are top notch however and only add to the scare factor of the game. The weapons make appropriate noises throughout the game (pipes making dull thuds against shibito skulls and knives making very disturbing slicing sounds). Again, the sound is done very well and helps create the scary atmosphere of the game.

Conclusion:

I had trouble figuring out what to give this game. Siren is easily one of the best survival horror games I’ve ever played in that it has a good story and kept me on edge every time I played it. It gets everything right in the aspect of creating tension and both a disturbing and scary atmosphere. In that regard it is easily worth checking out. However, a clumsy camera and the very linear game structure hold this game back from being a must-have.

If you’re a survival horror fan I really suggest checking this game out, whereas if you are not a survival horror fan, there isn’t a whole lot you’re going to like here.

Great

Great

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