Do yourself a favor and ignore the two words “Silent Hill” attached to this game. Aside from some enemies and the classic burned/rusty texture pack, Book of Memories adds nothing to this franchise nor does it feel like it belongs in it. No, that isn’t because this is a dungeon crawler and the other games aren’t. It just does not feel like a Silent Hill game.
Alright, now that we got that out of the way, not too many reviews are out for Book of Memories just yet and while I am trying to get through it with some haste (I’d rather take my time and enjoy what I can) I thought it would be best to throw out some opinions on this Vita exclusive now. A lot of people are on the fence about this game. The demo didn’t exactly wow the masses but to be honest, it didn’t resonate with me the first time, either.
I had to play the demo twice to actually get into Book of Memories. I tried to rush through the demo so I could make an opinion up about whether or not to buy the game. In that process, I failed to care about any cutscenes and hints. Hints? Who needs hints?!
Seriously, read the damn hints. Learning how to play Book of Memories doesn’t require any hints. Learning what is inside the game does. There are a lot of systems in this game such as Artifacts, Boosts, Notes, Puzzles, Challenges, and much more. To know what each one of those is will help you not only be better at the game but actually enjoy it more. This is definitely one game that new players should heed the flashy red exclamation point instead of disabling it.
Book of Memories is a Diablo clon– I mean dungeon crawler. I need to stop calling these games clones… The game is divided up into zones in which you’ll have missions, challenges, mini-bosses, and plenty of chances to find loot and currency. Each zone has a save point, exit, mission, and shop. Whatever else each zone may hold is randomized. In fact, every zone is random which really increased replay value and uncertainty in multiplayer. Your main mission is to find the puzzle pieces and solve the exit riddle with those pieces. Once you do, you head to the next zone.
Typically you’ll have a couple zones dedicated to a subject in your character’s life followed by a boss. Once you beat that boss, the story will progress and lead you to the next zone. Rinse, wash, repeat.
You see, our main character received an odd book from an odd mailman for your birthday. The book contains every single memory in your life all the way up to earlier that day. Your character decides it would be funny to try and change the memories to your liking. For instance? That guy at work didn’t get the promotion. You did. How does that happen? As you go through the memory’s zones you’ll read and listen to history changing until finally, you defeat the old memories and constitute the new one by killing the old memory’s boss creature.
Sounds weird but honestly, it is kinda cool. After the first memory is rewritten, your character becomes obsessed with the Book of Memories and the game will continue with the above formula. Along the way you’ll find new weapons, artifacts to boost your stats, power attacks, upgrades, and more stuff lying around your really, really @&$#ed up memories.
Gameplay is pretty tight and controls are really well mapped out. I had zero issues playing the game but the dodge and combo systems are a tad difficult to get used to. Timing is very important with both of them and if you don’t have trigger finger accuracy some times you’ll be swearing that you did it right when you were actually just a smidgen too slow or fast. This has not been enough to hamper my experience although I hear the Jock class (quick melee damage, low health) relies heavily on dodge so getting used to at least that system is very important.
Speaking of classes, things like that, stats, and artifact placement are not explained well at all. When you are making your character, the charm you pick at the beginning and your class can decide on what you’re good at using or doing. For instance, the Jock (STR+, DEX+) class I talked about above is like a glass cannon. Think of a barbarian. He’s got that massive two-handed club that he’s going to try and bust your head into your chest cavity but if you place your own attack well enough you could probably one-shot him. Then you have the Boomworm (INT+, MND+) who is very proficient with Wildcard weapons and Karmic abilities. The Rocker (VIT+, STR+) is a pretty solid tank if you built up defense but it is stronger with melee than the Goth (VIT+, MND+) class which is considered the best tank. Finally, the Preppy (AGI+, INT+) class deals with long range combat. If you haven’t guessed it yet, the stats in parentheses after each class name is what enhanced stats each of them get.
Your charm, the unknown shadow icons you see during character creation, will grant you a permanent Boost. Here is what they are from left to right, top to bottom:
- Lucky Clover: Durability+ (weapons last longer)
- Yen: MR+ (find more memory residual/currency)
- Compass: Map+ (reveals certain rooms in each zone automatically)
- Cross: Karma+ (gain more karma)
- Heart: HP+ (have more health)
- Meatbun: Exp+ (gain more exp)
- Robbie’s Head: Critical+ (more crit chance)
- Ninja Star: Speed+ (faster walk speed)
Knowing this stuff will help your character creation process out by allowing you to create the type of character you want and know what stats you will be focusing on. The game should really tell you all this, but it doesn’t. So I will!
I have not played multiplayer yet but from what I hear it runs smoothly and the netcode is well done. I do know that certain special rooms will not be found in multiplayer zones. Playing solo works really well here but the prospect of co-op multiplayer dungeon crawling on my Vita is tantalizing.
Overall, so far I’m having a blast going through Book of Memories. It is very rinse, wash, repeat but if you’re a veteran of the dungeon crawling genre then you are more than used to this. I still feel like it would have benefited more from not being called a Silent Hill game and just Book of Memories but either way the Vita has received a pretty fun game.
If you are on the fence about picking this one up, take what I said here, download the demo, complete it, and decide. Going through the demo will let you experience two zones, most of the special rooms, two classes (Preppy and Goth), and a boss fight. It’s a pretty informative demo as you could play this and basically know exactly how to play when (or if) you actually pick the game up in stores or on the PSN.
We’ll have our full review soon on Book of Memories but you can expect alot of what was said here to be found on the full review.