Ever since it came out in 2012 for PS Vita, Silent Hill: Book of Memories has been a bone of contention for Silent Hill fans everywhere. The usual horror factor we’re used to in the Silent Hill franchise takes a backseat in Book of Memories, replaced by hack and slash dungeon crawler gameplay.
The controversy surrounding this dungeon crawler makes for an interesting topic of discussion. Having this in mind, we’ve decided to dig a little deeper and find out if Silent Hill: Book of Memories is actually worth the hassle.
How many Silent Hill games are there?
The first Silent Hill game came out in 1999, Book of Memories (2012) being the last entry. Having this in mind, there are 17 Silent Hill games for different consoles, also appearing in different gaming formats like arcade and mobile.
Is the Book of Memories canon?
Now, this question has been a bit of a sore spot for both fans and critics of the game. Critics find the Book of Memories’ departure from Silent Hill’s usual gameplay proof of it being non-canon. On the other hand, others argue that the gameplay change has nothing to do with a canon story within the story’s official timeline. So where does Silent Hill: Book of Memories fit in?
Your character in Book of Memories comes into possession of a book which contains people’s memories. As you try to rewrite the chapters of your life within the book, you’ll find yourself entering the Silent Hill world.
Even though Book of Memories is a spin-off, the notes you find in Silent Hill: Book of Memories suggest the events which occured in Origins, Silent Hill 1 through 4, Homecoming, and Downpour took place because the protagonists used the Book of Memories to set them in motion. If Book of Memories is in fact canon, that would mean that Konami and Tom Hullet, producer of the series, retconned the entirety of Silent Hill to validate the inclusion of Book of Memories.
How does Book of Memories compare?
Essentially, your Book of Memories experience solely depends on your expectations. If you go in looking for the horrible dread associated with Silent Hill, you might end up disappointed. By contrast, if you’re expecting a dungeon crawler with some standard Silent Hill elements, you might actually enjoy it.
What Silent Hill: Book of Memories does bring to the franchise is the multiplayer option to break up the monotony. This way, you can play with up to three people online or locally. Although it doesn’t affect the outcome of the game, it does bring something new to the plate. However, not all fans were thrilled with this addition. While the developers did make a noteworthy attempt, adding the multiplayer option might’ve been the wrong choice. By doing this, they completely removed the oppressive silence and the overwhelming feeling of loneliness that make the Silent Hill series incredibly unique.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories – Gameplay
Your objective in this dungeon crawler is to guide your character through a series of dungeons filled with monsters. In Silent Hill: Book of Memories, you’ll have five character classes to choose from: jock, preppy, goth, bookworm, and rocker. All are customizable to a certain degree.
Defeating monsters gets you experience points, and after you gather enough points, you can level up, and, as a result, improve your stats (dexterity, strength, intelligence, etc.). Naturally, every character type favors certain statistics. For instance, a jock has greater dexterity and strength. Furthermore, you can equip items to improve your character’s stats.
For each area (zone), you’ll have to collect a certain amount of puzzle pieces in order to solve the area’s puzzle and move on to the next zone. You’ll find a save point in every zone, as well as a shop run by an NPC. Here, you can purchase items with the in-game currency – memory residue. Valtiel, another NPC, appears at the beginning of each zone and offers you an optional side quest.
Rooms with challenge orbs hold puzzle pieces inside. Once you break the orb, monsters pop up, and you’ll need to defeat them to get the desired puzzle piece. Also, keep an eye out for traps in rooms. Forsaken Rooms, for example, host ghosts, so be very careful how you handle them. Furthermore, your actions towards the ghost dictate whether the outcome will be neutral, positive, or negative, thus affecting the game as a whole.
As for combat, you can find various ranged and melee weapons and ammunition, as well as items that help replenish lost health. When you’re just starting out, you’re limited to carrying only two weapons.
Book of Memories alignment system
Silent Hill: Book of Memories also includes an alignment system – Blood, Steel, and Light. Picking up the defeated enemy’s leftover karma shifts your alignment towards Light or Blood.
Not only does every alignment feature different abilities, but it also affects the game’s outcome. The concept of karma we see here is quite interesting, as it attempts to quantify evil and good actions, even if both come down to beating up monsters to a bloody pulp.
In terms of creatures, Silent Hill 2’s Pyramid Head and Silent Hill 4’s ghosts also make an appearance in Book of Memories.
So is Book of Memories worth playing?
The gut-wrenching fear crawling up your spine and the overwhelming feeling of solitude are the essentials which make the Silent Hill series so terrifying. However, you won’t find anything remotely similar in the Book of Memories. In fact, you don’t have the time to feel lonely or afraid because you’re constantly surrounded by monsters. As a result, the concept gets repetitive real fast, leaving you stuck in a limbo of endless combat.
Wayward’s drastic change in gameplay was very promising, but did Book of Memories actually deliver? Not so much. Basically, if you’re just looking for a solid dungeon crawler, and you don’t care much about polished menus, and a well-developed plot, then Book of Memories is a good choice. Otherwise, you might be better off skipping this particular addition to the Silent Hill franchise.