Preview: Silent Hill: Book of Memories

Change is coming to Silent Hill. The long-running survival horror franchise is about to go on the road with its first portable-exclusive entry, marking the debut of several exciting features. One is character creation — instead of being forced into a set role, you’ll be able to craft your own character. If you’ve ever dreamed of being creeped out in a game as a wacky schoolgirl with X-ray specs, a hipster, or a goth chick in a gown, this is the game for you. Another other big change is a focus on multiplayer. Gone are the days of solo-only play as you’ll now be able to team with up to three people for some co-op play. The perspective has shifted from behind-the back to a 3/4 overhead isometric view, and the gameplay itself is now that of a dungeon crawler instead of a survival-horror game.

Item management is incredibly important, and you’ll need to keep a sharp eye on things like your health and how many more hits you can use a particular weapon for. Those who aren’t mindful will find themselves without a weapon at a key point and be left without a way to defend themselves. That’s where multi-player is going to come in handy because if you’re down on your luck, and you’ve got some solid backup, you at least have a chance to survive a situation where you’re outgunned — whether it’s due to facing too many enemies, or just one giant boss. Beyond just saving your life, allies can help you solve puzzles – saving you from having to go on GameFAQs at the drop of a hat to look up a solution.

The Vita’s touch screen plays a part in some puzzles, allowing you to shift around on-screen stuff as needed to in order to come to the correct solution for some puzzles. Since it’s a dungeon-crawler, you’ll be able to earn XP for every monster you kill, and assign those points wherever you’d like. You’re also able to put your character into makeshift classes with stats that are higher in one area than another. This comes in handy for a well-rounded party since like a traditional RPG, you can have a power character, a healer, or someone who’s more of an all-around character with skills that are good but not great in any single area. Just because it’s switched genres doesn’t mean that the game won’t be scary as the series’ scare rooms¬† and the emphasis on shadows and flashlight-aided navigation are still here.

Book of Memories is a bold departure for the series, and one that looks quite promising. The ability to create your own character should expand the audience for the game; making it a dungeon-crawler can do that as well since there are certainly fans of that genre who wouldn’t otherwise¬†play a survival-horror game. Conversely, this can also serve as a fine gateway game for those who aren’t regular fans of dungeon-crawlers. There’s a lot to look forward to here, and in just a few short weeks, we’ll find out if the end result is able to live up to the potential shown by the concept. The first-ever multi-player Silent Hill experience hits on October 16th.