Siren: Blood Curse
The original Forbidden Siren was released on the Playstation 2 in 2003; however, Siren never truly achieved a mainstream fanbase in North America, but has achieved a cult status in the genre of Survival- Horror. Now, in 2008, Siren: Blood Curse brings new light to the franchise with new graphics, fantastic gameplay, and a story that will resonate in my mind for as long as I play games.
The story begins with an American documentary crew filming Hanuda Village, a Japanese village that supposedly disappeared in a landslide in the 1970s. The crew stumbles upon a terrifying ritual, and from there on the characters presented must endure a three-day nightmare that may never be resolved or survived. The game is played through the perspective of seven characters featuring the documentary crew, a child, a high school student, a doctor, and a mysterious woman who has forgotten who she is. As you progress through each character's situations, the story is told through fantastic script writing. The writing is very realistic and it reflects how normal people would react in a tense situatuion. The plot itself is the strongest thing that Siren: Blood Curse has to offer. In order to avoid spoilers, I will not reveal any information beyond what has been written, but the plot is one of the best- if not the best- story I have experienced in any game, movie, novel, or concept album. The plot keeps the player on edge for the entirity of the experience, and the ending rewards the player for their hardship. The complexity of the story is the greatest accet to Siren: Blood Curse, but it is also a flaw. The complexity of the story offers one of the most confusing and mentally frustrating endings of all time. A player who is not looking for a deep story will be puzzled and agrivated by the confusion that follows the ending. It takes a massive amount of focus throughout the course of the game to understand it in one run, which is a major turn-off to players who are not seeking a complex and confusing story, but for the player who expects a complex plot will enjoy the rewarding ending.
The graphical aspects of Siren: Blood Curse are impressive from a technical standpoint and an artistic standpoint. The environments are gritty, dark, and are basically what you would expect from a Survival-Horror game, but the artistic direction of those environments are what carries the environments beyond what is expected. The environment feels like you are in a Japanese town, which also donates to the immersion of the experience. The characters are detailed, but they are not the best character models we have ever seen on cosoles. The animations are very well done. Whether it is running, climbing, cutscene animations, or sneaking past an enemy every animation looks and feels real. From a technical standpoint and a graphical standpoint the game is a success.
Fantastic sound is often expected from Survival-Horror in order to create the tense atmosphere neccesary for a Survival-Horror game to be successful, and Siren: Bloodcurse rises to the challenge with a great soundtrack, sound engineering, and voice acting. The soundtrack contains the moody tracks that are required of the genre, but also contains many tracks that seem to donate to the environment of Hanuda, Japan. The many sound effects throughout the game are great additions to the atmospheric elements of the experience. The many sound effects are very crisp and defined, especially with Surround Sound support. The slicing sound of a garden hoe hitting enemy flesh, the echoing footsteps of your character through a long tunnel, or the quiet yet disturbing moans of an enemy are all rendered extremely well and donate to the tense mood of the game in every way. The hilight of the sound in Siren: Blood Curse is the voice acting. The characters are all very well portrayed by their actors, and the emotional development of the characters is made evident through the voice acting, which adds a cinematic element to the experience. The choice of having the Japanese-native characters speakflawed English to the American characters was a great choice which donates to the realism present in this game that is otherwise very much a fantasy. Siren: Blood Curse lives up to the expectations that have come with the Survival-Horror genre throughout the years, and delivers on using the sound to create a more cinematic experience.
The gameplay of Siren: Blood Curse is perhaps the most unique aspect of the game. Siren: Blood Curse is a Survival-Horror game in the truest fashon. Contrary to more action-based games like Resident Evil 4, the player feels human in this game. The Player is alone, surrounded by creatures called Shibito, with nothing but the items in the environment at his disposal. The humanity of your character is presented in the fact that your character dies very easily; it will not take more than three to four hits from an enemy to kill you. Your character's humanity is also presented in that you can not kill any Shibito throughout the game; you can bludgen the Shibito to a state of very temporary unconsciousness, but they will get up, which makes the gameplay more about stealth, hiding, and trying to avoid every enemy encounter you can. This all comes to fruition when you do encounter an enemy. Knowing that the best way to survive the encounter is to run and hide makes for an intense, heart-pounding experience. The even more unique element to Siren: Blood Curse is the Sight-Jacking system, which allows your character to use their mind's eye to follow an enemy's movements and patterns in order to pick the right moment to run from hiding and slip past the enemy. This system was present in the original Forbidden Siren, but it has been greatly improved on since then. That being said, the gameplay offers a great challenge and requires more thought than mindless running through levels.The opening level of the game is essentially a tutorial which explains all the aspects of enemy encounters, and it is a fun, enjoyable way for the player to learn the basics of the game without being removed from the experience. The one major flaw that Siren: Blood Curse has is present in the gameplay aspect of the title. During gameplay, the camera angles can become extremely disorienting and frustrating, especially when running from an enemy or using the Sight-Jacking system. The gameplay elements all work well, but the way the Camera reacts to the situations presentes to the player can lead to more than, a few too many game over screens.
Siren: Blood Curse will not receive the popularity that has been achieved by games such as Resident Evil 4, which is a shame because it delivers on all the aspects it needs to in order to be a fantastic Survival-Horror game and just a fantastic game in general. Although Siren: Blood Curse will probably fall under your radar, it can be a truly rewarding experience for a fan of Survival-Horror, and it does not deserve to be missed.