Average User Score: 7.6Dec 26, 2013The Forbidden Siren series has taken its rightful place as my favorite horror games of all time. They are refreshingly difficult and often exercise your mind instead of being a no-brainer shoot-em-up. Silent Hill used to have its spot as my favorite, but because of the treatment it has been getting in recent times, it has been growing more and more stale.
This review is on the first of the Siren series, one which I found particularly favorable, although not as good as Siren 2. Even if this is true, the game does shine in certain aspects. Once again, the Siren series can be pretty difficult, and the first of the series is no joke, and possibly the hardest in the series: There is no difficult settings whatsoever, there are a plethora of inconveniences concerning clunky maneuvering, and puzzles are very subtle.
Beating this game 100% REQUIRES a guide. I cannot stress this enough. Cast away all shame and embarrassment in this act. No one will look down on you for this. Siren is VERY subtle with its tasks and demands patience and exploration. The game is laid out in a very unique fashion in which you are given a timeline chart and choose missions of various characters. Most if not all these missions have a "secondary" phase. It's basically the same level, but enemies are scattered differently and you have to acquire different items and/or objectives. This chart you have access to is known as the Link Navigator, and is one of the most unique functions I've ever seen in a game aside from Sightjacking.
Sightjacking itself is very interesting and a very effective mechanic in this survival horror romp. What Sightjacking is is just that...jacking into someone's sight to gain an advantage in stealth. This function is your SAVIOR, and you will be using it very often. The game's length itself is carried out by how much you will be trying to analyze your situation and the positions of enemies. If you decide not to be stealthy and try to just rush through everything, you are in for a rude awakening. This game does not hold your hand; even the MAP does not show your relative position and can cause great confusion. Enemies are also very powerful, and can off you with just two to three consecutive hits.
Despite all these gameplay difficulties, this is where the strength of Siren begins to show. The game is IMMENSELY rewarding in just the completion of a level. You will feel STRONGER almost, being able to make progress of any degree. Completing a mission usually gives you a "Movie" which progresses the story and reveals some shocking new discoveries. The story of the game is very complex, and each and every character is memorable, despite the subpar voice acting, which isn't so daunting the more you play. There are a lot of different things to uncover, and that is mostly what kept me going.
Now a question that is usually asked when confronted with a horror title: "Is it scary?" Yes, Siren is scary, but not in the OOGA-BOOGA closet scare we are so unfortunately familiar with in this generation. Siren puts genuine fear in the player's heart. The many characters you play are usually fragile and sometimes weaponless. You even get to play as a little girl in a few stages, and those ones are particularly stressful. If you do get a character that is fortunate enough to have a firearm, the game is still hard, as it compensates by laying out gun-wielding foes everywhere and giving you a meager amount of ammunition.
In closing, the Siren series is a hugely overlooked gem that I regret not having played for years now. This is the true face of survival horror, and maybe even the closest we'll ever get to something genuinely frightening and tense. If I have interested you in this series, I would highly recommend playing the rest of the games as well. It is really difficult to get your hands on Siren 2 these days considering it's a DVD-9 PAL format, but it improves on the first game in every way and is far more superior. Still, Forbidden Siren has surely left its mark in proper survival horror. Only those that are very patient, appreciate real horror, and have not been pampered constantly by more casual games will find great satisfaction in this excellent horror title.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.7Dec 5, 2013I've heard many good things about Okami and how its aesthetic, visual quality and rewarding gameplay defined it as its own, standing out from other games like a flower in a dead field. I've decided to purchase Okami HD on PSN. While Okami is definitely interesting looking, coming off as having a very old-age artistic Japanese-stylized painting, the game wears itself out in other areas and overstays its welcome.
Gameplay: With an incredible 40+ hours of gameplay that feels a lot longer than it should, I found myself being worn out more quickly than I'd have liked. At first the game's functions are delightful. These functions involve being able to use a Celestial Brush to restore order and life to a demon-ravaged world and engaging in combat with demonic foes while using said Brush as a piece of your arsenal in battle. The first ten hours or so of the game are really nice, but then I realized something: There was hardly any changing or real satisfying variety going on. You get new Brush techniques from different gods you awaken and free through constellations and you get new weapons for Ammy, but beyond that extent there is nothing much else and everything feels like an immense and tiring drag.
There are your platforming sections scattered around many different places and you also have the option to do sidequests. Normally I love sidequests in games, but in a game where the GAMEPLAY is wearing out on me, I found myself eventually trying to skip everything just to carry on with the story. You also have mini-games to play, and this is a plausible effort to freshen up the gameplay, but it doesn't last, as you'll be playing these mini-games over and over.
Once you get the gist of Okami's gameplay and learn the basics, the game doesn't branch out far from these basics. It becomes way too easy and I could not stay engaged for very long.
Story/Narrative: The story of the game is a combination of many different elements of Japanese folklores, but everything meshes together pretty well to deliver a relatively simple story and objective. You must save the beauty and order of the world as sun god, Amaterasu, taken the form of a wolf. I have no issues with the story, but a big issue the game had was how much it dragged it along. There is plentious filler stuffed into many different segments and this has greatly contributed to my lack of interest.
Another complaint that I have is that cutscenes are quite irritating, not just to sit through, but also to LISTEN to. At first the little mumbling voices were cute, but when you have to hear them for fourty hours, it really crosses the line. Not only that, but cutscenes could have been greatly improved by not making the player have to press a button to move forward to the next bit of dialogue. While I see this is good for slower individuals, it asks for me to stay involved and yet doesn't give me the option to quick-scroll like you can do outside of more major cutscenes.
Music/Sound: I've already mentioned the annoying mumbling "vocals" above, so I'll strike that out. The music and sound in this game is pretty fantastic. The music has a very oriental touch which compliments the atmosphere wonderfully. The sounds are really nice, especially in fights. I actually got goosebumps from some of the awesome sound effects in the game. This and the aesthetics are clearly the strongest points of the game.
Aesthetics/Graphics: Okami, as mentioned above, has its own unique artistic style. At first it is very well presented and quite pleasing to look at. It's clearly a breath of fresh air from the common graphic styles we see in games today. Okami's flair in the graphics department is hardly matched by others, not necessarily in realism, but in sheer style, and I can greatly respect the game for this.
The locales and environments, however, tend to not have a very distinctive style to their construction and geography when compared to other areas in-game. Despite the very nice style the game has going on, it doesn't seem like there has been much effort applied to simple attention to detail and having the game's areas stand out from each other. There are definitely certain areas that are unique, but it is expected since they are meant to house more important events/battles/scenes.
Overall, Okami has not lived up to the hype, in my opinion. The game is heavily drawn out by filler and its gimmicks in gameplay only last for so long before becoming absolutely thoughtless. Its narrative is irritating and oftentimes longer than it needs to be. I'm usually not one to complain about game length, but this game really needed to put more effort into keeping the gameplay fresh to keep my attention for so long. Despite these shortcomings, the game's art style and audio really impressed me and left me breathless in some moments; it's definitely where the game shines most.… Expand