Silent Hill: Book of Memories Hands-on Preview

 

After trying Silent Hill: Downpour and interviewing series producer Tomm Hulett, I had a chance to sit down with Silent Hill: Book of Memories, a game for Sony’s hotly anticipated Vita handheld.

Book of Memories is touted as a multiplayer title, which seems an odd fit for the franchise, whose horror often hinges on isolation. There was no multiplayer on offer at the preview event, however — just the chance to hold the Vita and try out one of the game’s randomly generated levels. Holding the Vita is like holding a very overgrown smartphone; the buttons, despite being very small, are easy to reach and manipulate. Other controls in Book of Memories are relegated to the touchscreen — you can tap it at any time to bring up your inventory, consult the map, or to pick up a weapon.

This is a nifty feature, and control schemes that mix traditional buttons and touchscreen controls clearly have lots of potential. The whole thing is undermined, however, by the incredibly small scale of the visuals. The on-screen image looks hi-res and sharp, but Book of Memories is played from an isometric perspective. That means that the player character is barely more than a centimeter tall, as you can see in the screenshot above. The weapons and items scattered around are proportionately smaller, making them absolutely tiny — in practice, they’re easy to overlook.

Gameplay in the demo consisted of wandering from room to room and killing things. Most areas had an object that you activate to spawn enemies (crawling, fleshy abominations, in true Silent Hill style), which would then cough up a reward once all of them were dead. Combat was simple, but satisfying enough, and the environment furnished a number of submachine guns that made quick work of the oncoming monsters.

Presumably the finished version will have more traditional Silent Hill puzzles, as well as RPG elements that will enable you to customize your created character. In the time alotted, I couldn’t figure out how to progress beyond the area I started in, a succession of creepy rooms improbably connected by a network of catwalks that looked like fire escapes. Still, the environments looked great and captured that “Rust Belt Gothic” look that the series has made so famous.

The UI definitely has slots in the upper-right for collaborators or party members, but for now we can only speculate about the cooperative multiplayer aspects of the game. As soon as more information becomes available, look for it here on GameFront!

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