Siren (video game)

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Siren art box.jpg
Developer(s) Project Siren
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s) Keiichirō Toyama
Producer(s) Takafumi Fujisawa
Artist(s) Isao Takahashi
Writer(s) Naoko Sato
Composer(s) Hitomi Shimizu
Series Siren
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, PlayStation Network
Release date(s) PlayStation 2
JP 20031106November 6, 2003
PAL 20040312March 12, 2004
NA 20040420April 20, 2004
PlayStation Network
JP 20120725July 25, 2012
NA 20130115January 15, 2013
Genre(s) Survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player

Siren (サイレン Sairen?), known as Forbidden Siren in the PAL regions, is a survival horror video game developed by Project Siren, a development team of SCE Japan Studio, for the PlayStation 2 in 2003. The story revolves around an interconnected cast of characters that possess a power which enables them to see and hear what a nearby character sees. The game was followed by a PlayStation 2 sequel, a reimagining for the PlayStation 3 and a film adaption.


Siren is divided into stages, each taking place in one of ten areas in the village of Hanuda, and organized chronologically in a table called the "Link Navigator". In order to complete a stage, the player must accomplish a primary objective that usually involves reaching an exit point, subduing undead enemies called "Shibito", or finding an item. Objectives in different stages are interconnected via a butterfly effect, and a character's actions in one stage can trigger a secondary objective in another stage.

There are miscellaneous items scattered throughout each stage that give the player further insight into the plot's background. Once obtained, these items are archived in a catalog and can be viewed at any time during the game's duration. The game's player characters possess a psychic power named "sightjack," which enables them to see and hear what a nearby Shibito or human sees and hears, and thus pinpoint its position, as well as gain knowledge of their activities and of the position of obtainable items. The clarity of each target depends on the distance from the player character. Once a point of view is located, it can be assigned to one of certain buttons of the controller to easily switch between multiple points of view. However, the player character is unable to move during use of the ability and is thus vulnerable to attack.

The game encourages the player to avoid Shibito rather than fight them. Characters can walk silently, avoid the use of a flashlight, and crouch behind objects to elude detection. Certain mission objectives require the player character to use items and/or the environment to distract Shibito from their activity, in order for them to achieve a goal. Others require the player to escort a non-player character. Player characters can also shout at any time in order to get the attention of nearby Shibito. Within most stages, the player character can hide in certain places such as cupboards and lock doors to prevent Shibito from entering. When a Shibito hears a sound made by the player character, it will search in the direction from which they heard the sound. If a character is seen by a Shibito, the latter will pursue the character to kill them either with a melee or ranged weapon or by strangulation. The Shibito will also shout to alert other nearby Shibito. Once the character has remained out of the Shibito's sight for a period of time, the Shibito will give up and resume its usual habits. Weapons are available for the player throughout the game, ranging from melee weapons to firearms. While Shibito can be knocked out in combat, they cannot be killed and will reanimate after a short period of time. If a character is injured, they can recover after some time has passed. Characters will lose stamina during combat and while running.


Siren is set in a Japanese village named Hanuda (Hanyuda in the Japanese version). With strong religious beliefs important in the area, the locals like to keep to themselves and have sought to keep Hanuda isolated from the outside world.[1] Following the interruption of a ritual near Hanuda, and a subsequent earthquake, the village teeters between time and space, with an infinite sea of red water replacing the mountainous territory. The crux of the story focuses on the efforts of Hisako Yao, the leader of the local religion, to resurrect or re-awaken a god through a ceremony. The 'Siren' of the title is the god's call, summoning Hanuda's residents to immerse themselves in the red water, thus creating an army of subordinates called shibito (屍人 shibito?, lit. "corpse people"). The shibito then go about building a nest to house the god's corporeal form once it is summoned, as well as killing and converting any remaining humans left in Hanuda. The story is told through the perspectives of ten survivors, some of whom are natives of Hanuda, and is presented out of chronological order over the three days in which the plot takes place.


Rather than employ traditional facial animation methods with polygonal transformation, images of real human faces were captured from eight different angles and superimposed onto the character models, an effect similar to projecting film onto the blank face of a mannequin.[citation needed]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 71.24%[5]
Metacritic 72/100[6]
Review scores
Publication Score
GamePro 4.5/5[citation needed]
GameSpot 6.7/10[2]
GameSpy 4/5[3]
IGN 7.7/10[4]

Siren received generally positive scores, with a score of 71.24% on GameRankings based on 65 reviews,[5] and 72% on Metacritic, based on 48 reviews.[6] Features of the game which were especially praised were the graphics, particularly the facial animation, and the complex and deep storyline. Much criticism, however, was aimed at the high difficulty, the unforgiving nature of the game, the relatively useless map feature which didn't show the player's position in the game field, the obscure nature of some of the puzzles and a general tendency for players to have to utilize trial-and-error methods to progress through the game.

GameSpot awarded the game a score of 6.7 out of 10, with a rating of "Fair." Reviewer Bethany Massimilla concluded that although the game had a great story, and interesting characters, it was "a hard ride through all the tedious trial and error you have to engage in simply to pass a level and move on. Fans of the genre interested in something new may be game for Siren if they're possessed with lots of patience--but they're the only ones this game is truly suited for."[2]

IGN scored the game 7.7 out of 10. Reviewer Jeremy Dunham praised the originality of the concept, the use of Sightjacking, the graphics and the storyline, but criticized the difficulty level and the trial and error nature of the gameplay; "At the end of the day, Siren is one of those rare kinds of games that overcomes gameplay shortcomings with its concept, style, and storyline [...] terrific combination of atmosphere, pacing, and storyline twists as well [...] the Sight-Jacking system serves as a great way to breathe new life into a genre that has otherwise seen little innovation since its inception 12 years ago. Yet despite that fact, Siren definitely isn't for everyone. [...] The clunky menu system and sometimes awkward viewpoint controls will likely grow tiresome for less patient players too, and the armpit voice acting takes away from what could have been the spookiest audio in the history of the PlayStation 2."[4]

GameSpy scored the game 4 out of 5, with Bryan Stratton following other reviewers in praising the storyline and atmosphere, but criticizing the nature of the gameplay; "For all of the things that Siren does well, there are a number of things that keep it from being a truly A-list survival-horror game. Siren‍ '​s biggest problem is that it can get very frustrating very early on. If you're not a fan of unforgiving stealth-based gameplay, you're going to die often and repeat missions to the point where it becomes more tedious than scary. [...] Siren‍ '​s controls and camera are also on the sloppy side, which seems to be a genre-wide curse. [...] These wouldn't be such major issues if Siren had scalable difficulty options that allowed less skilled or less patient gamers to avoid getting stuck on one mission, but Siren is intended to be played in one way and one way only, and its inflexibility is going to turn many gamers off. Still, for each thing that Siren doesn't do well, there are two innovative ideas that make it worthy of high praise."[3]

Film adaptation[edit]

A Japanese film adaption of the video game, titled Forbidden Siren and starring Yui Ichikawa, was released on February 9, 2006 to coincide with the release of the second game in the series, Forbidden Siren 2.


  1. ^ Siren Instruction Booklet. Sony Computer Entertainment. 2003. 
  2. ^ a b 'GameSpot Review', Retrieved on February 03, 2012
  3. ^ a b 'GameSpy Review', Retrieved on October 03, 2012
  4. ^ a b 'IGN Review', Retrieved on October 03, 2012
  5. ^ a b GameRankings
  6. ^ a b Metacritic

External links[edit]