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Siren: Blood Curse Demo Impressions

What do I know about the Siren series? Two things:

  1. It’s a survival horror game with a similar vibe to Silent Hill.
  2. It’s made by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan.

So when I heard that SCEJ was going to release an episodic remake of the first Siren I thought it would be a great opportunity to check the series out. Japan got their hands on a demo a few weeks ago and today it’s North America’s turn. So without hesitation I downloaded the 547 MB demo, shut the blinds and checked it out. Twice! Here’s some of my thoughts on it.

Immediately after launching the demo I knew Siren wasn’t going to be giving me any technical problems. Within 30 seconds or so, I was in the demo. And within 35 seconds, I was digging the vibe and atmosphere of the game. The grainy film filter sold the old horror film shtick very well. It was also quickly apparent that this game wasn’t using some low-budget voice acting work either.

Playing as some glasses wearing American in a plaid shirt named Sam Monroe, I witnessed a gruesome murder of a mine worker by the hands of a crazed Japanese woman with a pick. She didn’t seem all too kosher with the blood soaked clothes, crimson tears and eerie noises. After witnessing the brutal murder and subsequent unholy resurrection of the miner, Sam was given the task of sneaking by the new undead foe.

Steering Sam was initially awkward for me since I was reluctant with surrendering the camera control to the game. After letting go of my concerns, I settled with the controls and found them to be fluid and functional. Combat was easy to get into and despite the absence of a visible lock-on, I had no trouble dispatching enemies with either the pistol or any of the melee weapons. Fists were ineffective and only resulted with Sam being knocked down and me shaking the control, desperate for him to get back on his feet.

Creeping along, looking for survivors was a fairly easy task. With most of the key items highlighted by either the tutorial or the “X” button, I was left without any sense of puzzle solving or desperation. This may be exclusive to the demo, but I’m still leery about it. The game was segmented into mission chunks illustrating what Sam had to do next. The objectives weren’t simply something vague like “find survivors” either. The game also detailed alternative approaches to the mission such as “sneaking by the miner” or “don’t kill the psycho Japanese lady” – there was very little room for experimentation. Hopefully the final game doesn’t layout all the details and possibilities like that. In fact, I could live without the entire mission structure format altogether.

So that was the Siren: Blood Curse demo. I helped Sam Monroe find a survivor and lead them both through two checkpoints. It wasn’t very long, but it was worth a look. The presentation was noteworthy thanks to excellent delivery of atmosphere and sense of location. The interface may be a bit unorthodox at first, but it doesn’t take long to settle into it. The game’s linearity has me worried on the replay front, but at least the initial play through could be enjoyable. Siren: Blood Curse holds a fair bit of promise and I look forward to seeing more of it. Who knew a village filled with undead Japanese townsfolk could be so unnerving? Hopefully this episodic downloadable PSN survival horror game is reasonably priced as well.

For more information, check out the official site. Screenshot courteousy of Sony Computer Entertainment America.

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