Yesterday Sony released Siren: Blood Curse in the States, and I’ve managed to play through a couple of the episodes. Due to the really rather bizarre fashion in which it’s been released, I want to give some quick impressions to help you guys make up your minds.
So, first things first: it isn’t available in stores. The only way to get Blood Curse is with a PS3 hooked up to the internet.
Basically, the first Siren didn’t sell so well here in America, so to minimize the risks of releasing this one, it’s just been released to the PlayStation Store. The full game is going to take up about 9 gigabytes of space, so it’s way beyond any of the other little games they currently have available exclusively.
The pricing model is a little curious, too. $39.99 will get you all twelve chapters of the game, whereas $14.99 will get you a four-chapter bundle. Either the first four, middle four or last four. It’s kind of neat that you can buy the first four to give you a much better taste of the game than the demo does, but with no “upgrade to full version” discount you’ll end up spending five bucks more if you play it that way.
The other odd thing is that there is no easy way of downloading the full game. You can only download the game one chapter at a time, and each chapter needs to be installed separately. Fortunately, if you queue up all the downloads, you can start playing the game once the first chapter is downloaded, and the remaining chapters will continue downloading while you play.
Given the episodic structure, I’d kind of hoped that they would have spread out the releases, making the cliffhangers more important and giving us all something to talk about each week, but they didn’t, so let’s cut to the chase.
Siren: Blood Curse is a remake of the original Siren in one way, and it isn’t in another. It’s a new take on the original story, swapping a lot of the Japanese characters for American ones, and giving a new version of events, while not rewriting the mythology of the town and its problems.
But gameplay wise, you aren’t just retreading the same levels and events that you played in the original. So the gameplay is pretty much all new even if the story is only partially new.
It’s a smart move really, given that the original Siren had a lot of strong ideas that weren’t very well realized. Cleaning the slate and rebooting the series gives not only a brand new entry point to the franchise for people that don’t know it, but due to the fact that the game seems to finally be delivering on the promise that the original had, it means that you don’t have to go back and suffer the old Siren to appreciate this much improved newer Siren.
I’m more than halfway through the third chapter and up to this point the game has been intense. The first chapter doesn’t give you much meat and its pretty short, but once you get into the second chapter the game starts to show you its strengths.
A big feature of the series has always been sight jacking. Certain characters have the ability to see through the eyes of the monsters hunting you down. Previously you could only do this while stood still, but now you get a split screen view and can carry on playing.
There’s a moment in the third chapter where a character is pursuing you through a dark environment while you’re controlling an unarmed little girl. Seeing him hunting through the area room by room as you desperately try and sneak past the other monsters was more than harrowing. Just wonderful stuff.
It’s not all stealth and running away, though. Some of the characters (you’ll get to play as ten different characters through the 12 episodes, and their stories weave in and out of each others) are far from defenseless. You’ll be defending yourself with the kind of bludgeons and firearms you’d expect.
You can play in either third or first person but I’d highly recommend first. The controls are a little bit more cumbersome in first person, but the added tension it gives is definitely worth it.
The graphics aren’t technically amazing, but the lighting and character design are definitely highlights. The monsters look great, and their insane Japanese burblings (all subtitled) give them real personality.
The demo doesn’t give you the best idea of the game, as it just has you playing as a single character without sight jacking, but if you aren’t sold on the game yet, that $15 dollar route for the first four chapters isn’t a bad idea. It really starts picking up around the second chapter, and if there are any more moments in the remaining chapters as scary as the beginning of chapter three, this is going to be ranking alongside some of my favorite horror titles.
Look for the full review very soon!
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