Silent Hill: Book of Memories review

  • Spooky Silent Hill elements
  • Great lighting effects and visuals
  • Fun boss battles
  • Repetitive combat system
  • Long loading times
  • Vague RPG elements

Silent Hill games are known for taking players down dark hallways and terrifying them with an array of psychological horrors that have grown to be synonymous with the series. Its newest installment, the PlayStation Vita exclusive Silent Hill: Book of Memories, is a total departure from this formula, and reimagines the franchise in the form of an action RPG that takes place in the mind of a character you create. While Book of Memories isn’t meant to scare you, parts of the game may give you nightmares for all the wrong reasons.

 Click here to watch the Silent Hill: Book of Memories launch trailer

Despite not being canonical to the franchise, the story does manage to tie in a few themes that will remind players that they’re playing a Silent Hill game. On the night of his (or her) birthday, your character receives a book in the mail from someone in Silent Hill that holds all the memories of his life in its pages. Wondering what would happen, he then begins to rewrite some of it and is soon sent into the nightmarish Otherworlds of the book to complete the process. While the story starts out vague and segmented, piecing it together reveals a game that subtly explores the inner workings of the human mind and its darker side. The game itself isn’t scary, but what your character is ultimately doing--changing his past at the cost of others--is quite twisted.

As good as these points sound, you won’t see this change happen in the actual game: All the gameplay takes place within different isometric environments inside your character’s head. Completing a level, and in turn resolving a memory, means moving from room to room and fighting off the monsters that stand in your way, eventually reaching the exit and completing its puzzle to move forward. In order to do so, you must first collect various puzzle pieces by finding rooms with “Challenge Orbs” and surviving the onslaught each one brings. While each room’s challenge is different, you’re mainly just killing enemies to move on, and thus the real challenge is staying alive.

While Book of Memories isn’t a “survival horror” like its brethren, it does try to emulate the same feeling of impending doom through its combat system. Weapons, for example, are found in various rooms or dropped by some enemies, and can be stored in your backpack that you can then tap to equip. At first, you're limited to how many you can carry, but you can eventually swap them out during combat.

But your weapons won’t last forever, meaning you’ll need to be mindful of how frequently you use them and repair them with tool kits found in each level. The game is generous at supplying you with them in the beginning, but the later levels prove to be challenging because of the apparent lack of ammo and repair kits. While frustrating at first, this weapons system also adds a strategic element to the gameplay, forcing you to equip your character wisely and visit each dungeon’s shop constantly to survive.

 Watch the Silent Hill: Book of Memories trailer from E3 2012

Enemies also drop karma points that let you perform unique abilities using the touch screen. While combat sounds varied, it ends up feeling redundant after a while, especially since you’re just doing much of the same in each level you visit, even when playing co-op with others online. In fact, while it may look like a dungeon crawler, Book of Memories doesn’t offer enough unique elements to make players revisit its world. You can increase two different stats every time you level up to power up a character’s skills with melee and ranged weapons, agility, and so on, but this doesn’t change the experience too much. Also, your karma alignment slightly affects certain events in the story, but you don’t quite have direct control over its outcome, nor does the game tell you how you’re influencing it.

With or without the Silent Hill name behind it, Book of Memories had the potential to be the next great Vita title, but it suffers from an identity crisis. It looks like a dungeon crawler but plays like an action RPG, yet it doesn’t provide enough variety to make you want to come back for more. Its format gets repetitive far too quickly, and the only the thing that will keep your attention is knowing the fate of your character, even if you only played a small part in it.

More Info

Release date: Oct 16 2012 - PS Vita (US)
Available Platforms: PS Vita
Genre: Action
Developed by: Konami
Franchise: Silent Hill
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence


  • DeliciousPie - October 21, 2012 12:16 a.m.

    In agreement with Yuki down below. This really is quite a bad review. You have a singular, generalized paragraph that says the combat is repetitive and that the RPG elements are vague and seem to have no real effect. Torchlight is the same way, so what's the difference? What makes the gameplay worse than Torchlight's? Additionally, what about the story? How are the boss battles fun? How are the aesthetics great? You only briefly touch upon a single positive and say nothing about the other positives in the blurb. As for the negatives, the ones mentioned in the blurb are fairly minor, minus the repetitive combat one. I wouldn't say any of those would justify a two star rating (something like a 4/10) when combined with the positives mentioned in the blurb. But then, perhaps they do and there's more to it. I wouldn't know, though, because the review doesn't go in-depth about anything. Christ, Infinity Blade II is an iPhone/iPad game, and that review was much longer and had more substance.
  • Yukichin - October 20, 2012 11:30 a.m.

    Sorry, but this is kind of an awful review. How's the story? Why is the gameplay so frustratingly repetitive? Other games have repetitive gameplay but have gotten better scores; what is it, exactly, about this game that makes it deserve the score given? You're not actually justifying the rating.
  • Redeater - October 19, 2012 8:51 p.m.

    Yep, who didn't see this coming? I'm sure glad they spent all that time and resources "fixing" it.
  • RonnyLive19881 - October 19, 2012 5:46 p.m.

    Looks like the only handheld game I'm getting this holiday season is Paper Mario Sticker Star.
  • onetimebuster - October 19, 2012 5:43 p.m.

    Wow 2 Stars it did better then i thought
  • RonnyLive19881 - October 19, 2012 5:42 p.m.

    Heh, called it.

Showing 1-9 of 9 comments

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