An American TV crew has arrived in Japan to film an expose on the legend of the “vanished village.” Controlling seven different playable characters, the player must uncover the mystery behind the curse that grips the eerie village of Hanuda. Intense graphics, realistic character animation, and a gritty film-like graphical presentation add to the horror of Siren: Blood Curse.
No of Players: 1
Review – October 2008 by Graham Wright.
Siren: Blood Curse is a retelling of the previous Siren games on the PS2. The story is based around an American film crew who visit the village of Hanuda to investigate reports of human sacrifice and other supernatural phenomenon. It’s here that they are attacked by the Shibito, the inhabitants of the village who have been possessed by the Siren curse. The group becomes separated which splits the game up into chapters, each one focusing on different character’s stories and how they all connect to each other.
Part of the charm of the first two Siren games was the art style but the new, more realistic, graphics have been executed in a way which more than makes up for ditching the old. Light and dark come heavily into play in this iteration and adds even more tension to the game than before. The new graphical style is also complemented by the sight jack ability. Once the player has learned this skill early in the game, they are able to see through the eyes of the Shibito, giving important clues in unreachable areas or just to check there isn’t a nasty surprise waiting for them in the shadows. Unfortunately as a feature sight jacking is hit and miss, with it sometimes being quite hard to know what you are looking at. Regardless, use of the feature is vital for progressing through the game.
Atmospherically the game is one of the most intense experiences you can buy in the survival horror genre. There is nothing more terrifying than hearing the horrifying sound of a Shibito outside a door that you have to go through. Forget the Licker jumping through the window in Resident Evil 2; Siren makes everything else look like Barney the big purple Dinosaur. Speaking of sound, the game excels with its audio work and the soundtrack is possibly one of the most fitting heard in a survival horror game.
On the downside the controls can often be frustrating, with the lighting effects causing some problems for the player in figuring out what you can climb up or down. A number of times throughout the game players will become stuck in parts of the environment with the unfortunate result of their skull being chewed off by an irate Shibito. But these are issues which can be forgiven. If the game controlled in the traditional Gears of War style, it would remove a lot of the tension and this keeps the player on edge throughout.
The enemies are some of the most terrifying in any survival horror. Clearly influenced by successful Japanese horror movies such as Ringu and Ju-on: The Grudge, the Shibito are more frightening than the standard zombie enemy due to them being able to verbalise things at the player. These aren’t just mindless monsters – they’re clever and are deliberately out to hurt .
The game also needs to be credited for being a pioneer for the games industry by being downloadable. Although a disc version is planed, Siren is the perfect candidate to sit on your HDD with it being split into chapters. The video clips showing the next chapter can break up the gameplay and reduce the tension, but again these are a minor issue.
Siren Blood Curse is a must for people who like survival horror games. With the bigger names such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill straying away from the original formula, Siren stays true and breathes new life into a genre being left behind by many of the industries biggest names. Because of this it’s possible that Siren will now move from a niche title and get the credit it deserves.