So I just started playing “Siren” again. This is a survival horror game for the PS2, but with a twist: Instead of mowing down armies of zombies or whatever, you mostly have to sneak around and avoid getting noticed, because if you do, you get killed really fast. (This probably makes it much more like what would really happen if in fact one found oneself in a landscape dominated by ghouls and monsters. See also “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead“.) Don’t get me wrong — I love the “Silent Hill” series, for instance. But after the first play-through of Silent Hill 3, once I got my hands on what amounted to a light saber, I was hacking even the most fearsome creatures into Jack Link’s beef jerky. That doesn’t happen in “Siren”. EVER.
What does happen is something called “sightjacking”, where you have the ability to tune into the vision of the monsters that are stalking you, allowing you to see what they see. I can assure you, it’s quite unnerving to sightjack some axe-wielding zombie thing (called “Shibito” in Siren) and realize that it’s looking at the back of your head. The game is quite difficult, even on the early levels, as there are very few clues to help you out, the map doesn’t show you where the hell you are on it (which is sadly typical of real-world maps, but almost unheard of in video game maps), and there always seems to be at least one Shibito sitting in a tower with a rifle just waiting to go all Charles Whitman on you as soon as you pop your head up from behind that fern you’re cowering under. Still, I’m having fun with it so far.
One interesting thing about this game is that all the characters look like they wandered in from a Godzilla movie (no, the real ones, not the one with Matthew Broderick), but they talk like they just got off the boat from Liverpool. I’m not sure who decided to dub Japanese characters with British accents, but the effect is, um, interesting, and more than a little jarring. I’d rather have seen subtitles, but maybe that’s just me.
“Siren” is not a new game. I got it for Christmas in 2005 and am just getting around to playing it now. So it’s not state-of-the-art, but if you like a game to freak you out, you could do worse than to dig this one out of the cutout bin. My preliminary rating is that this game would not put my wife to sleep at all, because she would be afraid that some Shibito might come up behind her and whack her with a shovel.