Siren Blood Curse

In the darkened room a whimpering, woeful, desperate voice began to emanate from the television. I pulled my knees up onto the sofa to form a protective ball and pressed the x button. The whimpering stopped, but the general situation did not improve. A news reel began to play showing an abandoned Japanese village, but oh my god, what is this, there seem to be people there! Focus in on the people through the dark wet trees and it seems that these people are some sort of cult, and in the middle of a ritual. Is that a poor defenceless little girl I can see in the blurry image? Yes it is, but what are they doing, what is that very large knife for, have they just…. yes they have…. and run.

This is not the first time we have seen this ‘abandoned’ village. The mountainous and remote Hanuda was visited previously in Forbidden Siren, the predecessor of Forbidden Siren 2. Siren Blood Curse comes as the third in the franchise and went on general release back in July. This new game brings us back to the same story as Forbidden Siren but from a different view point. New characters are used and there is a novel episodic style of delivery. This game is a jumble of cut scenes, film sequences and game play creating an interesting audio visual experience.

There are seven different characters to take control of during the game complemented with a rather pleasing selection of 50 different weapons. To add a little spice some characters cannot use weapons and must rely on their stealth, sneakiness or traps setting skills to get by. As with every game there has to be bad guys to bash and here they take the form of Shibito, living dead, to keep you on your toes. Weapon wielding characters can brutally attack the Shibito by bashing them until they are weak enough to carry out a finishing move or sneak up on an unsuspecting Shibito and unleash an instant finishing move on it. These moves are wonderfully gruesome, and feel like quite a reward when you first manage to beat a Shibito enough to perform one. However they are feisty little buggers and leave them unattended long enough and they generally get right back up and start nipping at your heals again, they also do not disappear if you leave and area and then return, making them a pleasantly persistent enemy.

Three of seven characters you are lucky enough to be allowed to play with….

When you are not beating things to death (or shooting them I suppose since there are some firearms to be picked up, but they don’t result in quite the same level of gore so who cares) there are different types of game play to experience. Some missions involve running around, killing stuff off and generally staying alive. The flip side to this is when you play a character who cannot carry weapons and you must use stealth. In these situations turning your light off, crouching and trying to use distracting objects in your environment serve you well. The third mission type you will encounter is the one where you have to mind numbingly toddle along either following some crappy AI figure or trying to keep one alive. They seem totally incompetent and get too far away rather easily and don’t change their crappy pre-programmed commands if you stand on the other side of them making them look like total loons. Oh and there are some fairly fun puzzles scattered throughout the game to keep you agile in the brains department.

The feel of the game is good. It is slightly let down by the clear need to have a HD TV to actually read the text that appears or see most of the scenery but even with my old telly it is clearly pretty nice. The scenery is dark and dirty, the buildings are pleasingly dilapidated, and the Shibito look kinda evil. It has certainly ticked the horror game box visually and I enjoyed watching the game unfold.

So here we have a Survival horror created in an episodic fashion, riddled with clips and cut scenes, a good range of characters and a nice array of weapons. The baddies are hard to get rid of and the environments are claustrophobic and dark. It has many good elements but what did I really think about it?

Lets start at the beginning so first off the first episode is shockingly bad. You start as I mentioned with a pretty good video of a cult murder taking place. The image is gritty and jerky and the people filming it sound quite realistically panicked. Then it cuts to two playable characters who are laughably blocky, move awfully and generally ruin the whole mood that has been set. I have no idea why this discrepancy occurs as during the rest of the game the characters look good, move well and women can be deciphered from men. The clip suddenly shifts and you are now watching a different character who you are set in control of with the command ‘escape from the police man’. You run, you feel like you don’t really know what’s going on, you push the ‘hide’ option when it appears on the screen, you hit the bad guy with a shovel and it is all over in a few minutes. Mission complete. Well that was rubbish. It lacks character development, scene setting, player involvement, or really any sort of motivation to play on. I guess it is trying to pull you into the action quickly, and it does teach you a few basics of the game, but it is confusing, and not an enjoyable start.

The next episode is also painfully quick but does begin to introduce the game a little better. You learn how to work with a rubbish AI character, you see just how persistent the Shibito can be and you get to use fire arms. Sight Jacking is also introduced here. This is a feature where you can send your character into a trance like state and use your minds eye to possess a close by mind, be it human or Shibito. This allows you to see such things as where other people are or when a Shibito is near one of your traps. If you have a big enough TV and a clever enough mind you will not accidently think this skill is called Jack Sighting like I did and it will be immediately apparent to you that this is a skill you can use throughout the game not merely a skill that the mysterious ‘Jack’ holds….

Fortunately in the third episode the game really got going for me. Here you will play as a child, unable to attack the Shibio like an adult can. Stealth now becomes important and finding ways to distract the Shibito is crucial. I found myself on the edge of my seat as my in game heart beat got louder making me aware of nearby presences, I began to die repeatedly at this point, and each time I restarted I would notice scary things in the darkness that I had not seen before. This game was now looking well worth the time and effort. Sadly the good stuff did not last. After tempting you with all this true horror gaming it hits you with an AI guiding mission.

For my tastes this game is simply too mixed. It appears to be trying to bridge the idea of survival horror as fast paced zombie beater and survival horror as a slow trek in the darkness with surprises around every corner. I am not convinced that these things mix, at least not is such sort snippets. Just as you are enjoying creeping about the next mission will force you back to some tediously chore, and just as you are enjoying those fabulous finishing moves it plunges you back into stealth mode. It creates and inconsistency that makes the game disjointed and combined with the short nature of each mission (taking under 15 minutes to complete) I find it hard to really settle into any one style of game play.







2 responses to “Siren Blood Curse”

  1. Martin avatar

    I really wanted to like this but found the controls clunky and quite vague. The best bit is to have the game in the console and leave it on the crossbar menu, the sounds that come out are terrifying.

  2. unrested avatar

    the control is really lacking when it comes to being able to have a full longitude/latitude viewing ability and for that I am a bit sore on this game. But seeing as how every survival horror is just becoming another FPS I thought it did a decent job with how innovative it was. Also I am unsure of the price of this game in the states but here in japan it was only 2100 yen which is like 20 dollars. For that price I felt I gotr what i paid for…an interactive horror movie.

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