I was excited by the notion of a survival horror game coming to the PSN, but was very under whelmed by Siren. This was because of lackluster and often frustrating gameplay, and a very long download, and install time. Not all is bad, with an intriguing story and good visuals. Not for everyone but survival horror fans will most likely find something to enjoy here.
I at one time considered myself a fan of survival horror games, but I really could not get into the gameplay of Siren. A wide variety of playable characters sounds good on paper but in execution they mostly feel the same with the exception of the little girl, whose parts were extremely dull. The difficulty ranged from very easy to almost impossible at a drop of a hat, and felt unbalanced most of the time.
The biggest problem I had with Siren was the fact that most of the game was avoiding the monsters, but gave us very limited space to do so. I usually have no problem with linear games but this just feels like a haunted house ride. With so much of the game being about running away or trying to hide, a lot of the game just feels canned, and far too predictable.
Some of what we get here is quite fun but only in small doses, such as the gunplay, and some of the melee combat. This is dependent upon whether the game wants to be incredibly hard and kill you immediately or easy, and the thing just falls over after a shot or two. The ammo is unlimited for the guns, and there is no health bar so there really is no way of knowing what may happen all the time.
The visuals of this game are one of the highest points because the environments are genuinely creepy throughout the whole game. The enemies look great, and are varied throughout the level pretty well. For a downloadable game it looks fantastic, but by most standards it is just above average at best. The lighting is the most important part of the visuals, and the way they handle the flashlight makes the game a lot more exciting and creepy. The story is told through short cut-scenes that are pretty much in-game, but they work well, and look as good as they should.
The only problem I really had with the visuals is that in the darker portions it’s a little too difficult to find where the next objective is along with a multitude of invisible walls. Hopefully the visual quality for downloadable titles will be set with this title because given the type of game it is, the visuals are well above par.
Fun is again unfortunately where Siren starts to go back downhill. The game felt very restrictive with its linearity, and this took away from the action, and the supposed horror I was supposed to feel. Some sequences are much more fun than others, and the combat sequences are much more fun than the ones that are only running and hiding. I am not asking for a open world game here but at least a game that gives you more than just one specific way to complete it. If the fun parts could have been more prominent then this title had the potential of being very good but instead it stays in the realm of mediocre. The story manages to be quite interesting, but never goes beyond the realm of good. Following the story from the different perspectives is a good idea, but given that most of the characters are so similar it never really feels worthwhile.
Siren is a game that was an experiment of sorts in the realm of downloadable and episodic games. I would have to say on most accounts that the game failed. With an incredibly long download time, and install time we don’t get to start playing until hours after we buy. The episodes are much shorter than expected, and take up much more space on the hard drive than expected.The game itself is decent, but nowhere near great. This is mostly related to the sub par gameplay, and restrictive linearity. The difficulty is uneven, and some characters are almost unbearable to play. The visuals are one of the high points, and the story was pretty interesting throughout.
I’m a little hesitant to talk too badly about Siren because I’m almost certain that this is not my kind of game, and for some this may be a great title. I’d definitely suggest downloading the demo if you are unsure.