Silent Hill: Book of Memories Hands-On Preview -- Is That a Pyramid Head in Your Pocket?By Stephen Johnson - Posted Jan 05, 2012
Silent Hill: Book of Memories, the little brother to the upcoming “full” Silent Hill title Silent Hill: Downpour. Wisely, the first Silent Hill game for the PlayStation Vita doesn’t try to create a fully 3D spookhouse like other Silent Hill games. Playing a horror title on a handheld while you’re waiting for the bus or killing time on a flight will probably never provide the kinds of chills and horror that a full console experience will. Still, the trappings of horror are in place--scary rooms, limited resources, and a dark feel abound.
The game doesn’t head straight for the psychological jugular though. Judging from my brief playtime with it, it’s a much lighter-hearted game than the console Silent Hill titles. Instead of the slow horror the series is known for, Book of Memories opts for an action approach, providing up to four players with a scary environment in which to battle bad guys and collect treasure with an almost Diablo-feel.
In the game, you receive the titular book, and all your memories are trapped inside; everything that has ever happened to you in one handy volume! Kind of like a diary… but scary. Speaking of memories, fans of the series will be happy to see old favorite monsters from classic Silent Hill games returning to try to kick your ass.
You play as one of four customizable characters, each representing a high school stereotype. You descend, either with friends or alone, into an overhead view, where you travel from randomly generated room to randomly generated room, avoiding traps, fighting monsters, and finding treasure. The game contains some light RPG and gear-customization elements as well.
I was assured by Konami that Book of Shadows is not an unrelated game with the “Silent Hill” title slapped on. It was built from the bottom up to be a Vita title, and as a tech demo for the upcoming device, it definitely succeeds. In short, Book of Memories looks good. It’s a little more cartoony than “standard” Silent Hill titles, but it’s still detailed and bright enough to be immersive.
Even more importantly, it plays well, too. The controls are responsive and the combat provides interesting variations based on weapons used and character skills. The game uses the Vita’s touch screen for more mundane tasks like inventory management, freeing up the control pads and buttons for use in killing monsters (i.e. something you’ll be doing a lot of).
I didn’t really get enough time to play Book of Memories to really gauge how it will be as a full-fledged game, and the co-op in this early build wasn’t working when we tried it out, but it definitely will be something fans of Silent Hill will want to check out, if only to see how the Silent Hill structure translates in a more action-centric setting.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories is scheduled for release during the “launch window” of the PlayStation Vita, meaning sometime soon after February 22.