Siren: Blood Curse PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Release Date: Out Now
The PlayStation 2 had its fair share of survival-horror titles that could scare the pants off you but the first two Siren games (called Forbidden Siren and Forbidden Siren 2) were among the most scary of them all. Like the Silent Hill games the fear factor came from the anticipation of being attacked. At times in these games the tension can be unbearable and it takes real guts to play these games with the lights turned off. You could say it's the kind of game where it's preferable to wear your brown trousers. Anyway the lights are staying on for me and the brown trousers are on, so let's look at the first Siren game to appear on the PlayStation 3.
Siren: Blood Curse is set in the Japanese village of Hanuda. It's claimed that in the mid-1970's the village simply vanished. It has widely been held to be an urban myth for years that human sacrifices and other dark goings on occurred on the island, so an American TV crew decide to visit to debunk the myth. Things get off to one hell of a start however as the TV crew witness what appears to be a demonic ritual and a murder by a cloaked man. The cloaked man then tries to kill another person only for someone to try and stop him. That someone happens to be Howard Wright, a high school student who just happened to be visiting the island on the same day as the film crew.
Like the previous Forbidden Siren games Blood Curse plays out over a series of chapters and over the course of the game you'll control a variety of different characters. Essentially you'll follow each of the character's quest for survival and you'll move from one scenario with one character to another scenario with another character. This keeps the different threads of the storyline ticking over nicely and the suspense high as you jump from one perilous situation to another. The game's story is set over two days but there's quite a lot to do as you move from one time slot to another with a different character. The game includes seven different playable characters and the game does feel genuinely different when played from each one's perspective.
One of the unique features of the Forbidden Siren series, which makes a return in Blood Curse, is the ability to Sight Jack your enemies. In essence this is an ability to look at things from your enemies perspective. You can look through their eyes and learn what enemies are present in your current location. You can switch between different enemy perspectives to give you a more complete picture of your surroundings. This is one of those features that doesn't seem that exciting when you're reading about it but it's something you'll really appreciate when playing the game and it does really add to the tension, especially when you happen to spot where your character is hiding and you hope that the enemy, whose vision you are currently hijacking, doesn't realise where your character is hidden.
Who are these enemies you'll be running away from then? The Shibito aren't your typical dim-witted zombie style characters that you usually find in survival-horror games. They won't make a fuss of finishing your character off and they are pretty difficult to avoid, although it's imperative that you do avoid them for the most part. Most of the time a confrontation is the last thing you want. You can stun them (some weapons are more effective than others in this regard) which buys you time to get away but eventually they'll get back to their feet and come after you. Being stealthy and avoiding detection is definitely the best course of action and that's exactly why the aforementioned sight jacking feature is so valuable. Whilst the game is difficult however the developers have put checkpoints in each mission so you won't have to completely redo a mission should your character come to an untimely demise.
Visually Blood Curse won't win any awards but the graphics are good enough. The graphics in the early part of the game don't feel like they've improved much at all from the PlayStation 2 Forbidden Siren games. The setting is extraordinarily dark and it's difficult to appreciate the quality of the visuals when visibility is so poor. Things improve as the game wears on and as you find yourself in environments that are not quite so dark it's easier to appreciate that the graphics are better than you may of thought at first. The draw distance never has to be anything spectacular as you're either faced with darkness or fog and your viewing distance is never that great which only adds to the intimidating atmosphere of course.
Blood Curse is subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. You'll be able to follow all of the storyline and conversations in the game without any problems. All objectives are shown in text and you're notified when an objective has been completed and when a new objective has been issued. Tutorial messages are shown in text too. Of course deaf gamers will have a slight disadvantage in that the enemies are usually heard before they are seen. I have to be honest and say that at the time of writing I don't have access to a DualShock 3 controller (inexcusable I know and I apologise) so I can't comment on whether the force feedback helps to alert you to an enemy presence. As soon as I do have access to one I'll update the review.
You can purchase the game in a couple of ways. You can either buy it the traditional way, and we've found the game from online stores for around £18, or you can choose to download from the PlayStation Store for £19.99 for the entire game or as four separate instalments (which is something I wouldn't advise as it's more expensive and the first couple of chapters aren't as engaging as the later ones which are about as good as anything in the genre) with each instalment being £6.99. Regardless of your preferred method of purchase it's a game well worthy of your attention if this is a genre you're interested in and fans of the Forbidden Siren games will regard this as a worthy sequel.