Siren (video game)
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
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. 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.
The game received "mixed" reviews, according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. 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 also tedious. 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. 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.
- Official website (Japanese)