Less than 20 hours
of survival horror
Tons of post-game content
Great audio and visual style
Can get repetitive
not explained well
here for scoring
Book of Memories is a dungeon crawling
spin-off of the long running survival horror
franchise. Typically these types of spin-offs will
simply copy freely from Diablo and simply
apply the franchise's style to that formula, but
thankfully Book of Memories instead takes
a different route. Pulling elements of roguelikes
along with hack and slash combat, Book of
Memories manages to maintain the survival
element of survival horror games. This, however,
also leads to some repetition and story issues.
Book of Memories starts
with a simple premise. The player character is
given a mysterious book on his/her birthday which
contains peoples' memories. The character soon
finds he/she can rewrite their life using the book
which then translates to traversing through
several dungeon levels to complete the feat. This
turns out to be the only direct storytelling in
the entire game. For the remainder the player will
discover notes talking about the person whose
memories are being changed and an occasional audio
clip from a TV that includes a snippet of the
person in question talking or people talking about
them. It's an interesting way to tell a story that
turns out to work well for the most part. However,
even with a satisfying ending to the story there
just never seems to be enough notes to find to
give things the proper depth.
Thankfully there is plenty of
depth to the gameplay. Players create a character,
choosing one of various high school themed
classes, and then jump right into dungeon
crawling. The classes don't change much other than
bonuses to various attributes. The main campaign
has the player going through various dungeon
levels, searching for five to eight puzzle pieces
that will allow them to advance to the next level.
Dungeons are randomly generated and set up in a
similar fashion to roguelikes with a number of
rooms connected via hallways; the hallways are
free of monsters while the rooms are not. The two
main types of rooms are regular monster-filled
rooms and puzzle piece rooms. Puzzle piece rooms
require killing a number of monsters often with
extra conditions, but the challenges can be
activated at the player's leisure making these
nice safe rooms. Other than that there is one shop
room per level and some random treasure rooms.
are just the bees knees.
Combat is a simple
hack and slash affair with some notable twists,
including various types of guns and dual wielding.
Be it ranged or close range weapons, they all have
limited numbers of uses. Weapons slowly lose
durability and ranged weapons have limited ammo.
Ammo and repair kits are available, but unless one
has a plentiful amount of money, careful use of
ammo and repair kits is required, giving the game
a feel similar to classic survival horror titles.
At the same time, once the player expands his/her
backpack space it becomes easy to stash powerful
weapons that are in a damaged state so players are
never really at risk of losing rare weapons. The
player can only carry a small number of weapons at
a time even with the backpack upgraded to the max.
With no other items to collect other than health
packs, ammo and repair kits, and some stat
boosting artifacts, loot is not an element of the
game. Still, the combat is weighty and fun, and
ammo and durability management captures the spirit
of survival horror games. Instead of just bashing
through every group of monsters, players need to
carefully make use of resources.
The monsters are aggressive
with a variety of different attacks and defenses.
They come in three different types: blood, light,
and steel. Killing enemies of either blood or
light and retrieving their memories moves a karma
meter one way or the other. As the meter gets
closer to full in either direction, new abilities
are unlocked. Blood powers are more attack-based
while light powers tend more towards healing and
protection. In addition to these power unlocks,
the story will change depending on where the karma
meter is. It's an interesting system that adds an
extra dimension to combat, and early on the player
will even get an ability that allows them to
switch the alignment of nearby monsters. The only
major issue with the system is that it is never
adequately explained. As for boss
encounters, there is one every three levels
and they provide some of the game's most
impressive and interesting foes. They aren't easy,
but they also don't overly tax players, thus
preventing frustration from kicking in.
by evil zombie nurses.
On the visual front
Book of Memories has a nice clean look to
it which makes good use of the Vita's power.
Environments are interesting, lighting looks
great, and the art design is consistent and
fantastic. The game runs at a steady clip with no
slowdown, with the only issue being long initial
load times when entering a level. The music is
equally well done, doing a great job setting the
tone for each of the different zones and never
detracting from the gameplay. There are some
tracks that aren't precisely memorable but the
design of the music seems intended to be more
environmental anyway. Sound effects in the game
are equally fantastic, providing the necessary
impact for weapons and monster attacks.
At the end of the day Silent
Hill: Book of Memories manages to provide a
change of pace to the dungeon crawling genre which
has become somewhat stale. Multiplayer along with
hundreds of bonus levels with new story content
and other goodies to find provide nearly endless
replayability beyond the main campaign. Fans of Silent
Hill and those new to the series alike will
find something to enjoy about this game. If not
for a light story and a repetitive feeling at
times, this game could easily have challenged the
likes of the main Silent Hill series.
Here's hoping we see more dungeon crawlers that do
more than just copy and paste Diablo.