What game comes to mind when you hear "things go from bad to worse when you hear the sound of a siren"? If you said Siren, then congratulations! You cheated and looked at the title of this article! For most gamers, their minds conjure up thoughts of Silent Hill. Now, why would the Siren series steal something so obvious?
The truth is, it didn't steal anything at all. Keiichiro Toyama, the director of the three Siren titles, is also the director and writer of the first Silent Hill game! After leaving Team Silent, he formed Project Siren and started work on a very interesting horror franchise. This article focuses on the third title, Blood Curse.
Siren: Blood Curse is a very interesting game for many reasons. First and foremost, it's a sort-of remake of the first Siren, but not really. What I mean by that is that it's more akin to an American version of a Japanese horror film. The basic plot is the same, but it's a total makeover in terms of characters and the finer plot elements.
In this version, an American film crew goes in search of Hanuda Village. Said to be lost in a landslide decades prior, the crew stumbles across a cult ritual. A woman is sacrificed and before another can be killed, another American intervenes. From here, you'll take control of the brave teenager who comes to the rescue, who needs to escape and find help.
Siren: Blood Curse is an episodic title that takes place over 12 episodes. You constantly change between different characters. In one episode, you could be playing as one of the crew members. In another, you play as the crew member's daughter, and so on.
The title is what I would call a stealth horror game. Your characters are extremely weak, so they must hide to survive. The enemies of the game are the zombie-like shibito, inhabitants of Hanuda Village who don't seem to realize they're dead.
The main mechanic that sets the Siren series apart from others is sightjacking. The strange wail of the siren has given the trapped characters the ability to see through the eyes of the shibito. In Siren: Blood Curse, while hiding you can activate sightjacking. This splits the camera in half vertically. Half continues to show your point of view, while the other shows the viewpoint of the random shibito around the area. You can choose whose sight to see through in order to better sneak away.
This is a wonderful mechanic to me, and it's used beautifully in the game. There's nothing quite as tense as seeing a shibito shambling toward the door you're cowering behind, praying they don't open it!
Now, you can certainly fight back, but it's supremely discouraged. You can stun shibito and even knock them out for a while, but you can't actually kill them most of the time. Watch out if you plan on attacking, as you will die quickly if you're not careful!
Unfortunately, not everything is sunshine and roses with the title. It's weird to say for a horror game, but in some parts Siren: Blood Curse is way too dark. Even at the highest brightness, some areas are nearly impossible to navigate because of the thick darkness. It can really disrupt the gameplay, and it turns tense chases into annoying, cheap deaths.
Another gripe is that the game runs a fair bit ... well, awful. The framerate targets 30fps and might hit that at times! Until, that is, you start sightjacking. Rendering two different viewpoints is clearly stressing the game, as the framerate takes a nosedive. On the shibito viewpoint, it's more of a style choice but it clearly just looks terrible on the normal camera.
That being said, the game is still great despite its flaws. It's a budget title and it shows, but under all the messy engine problems, it's a solid horror experience. If you can pick it up, be sure to do so! Make sure to wear an adult diaper, too. You know, just in case.