Forbidden Siren didn’t entirely convert me to survival horror. Confession time; I don’t like it because it’s scary. Being fiendishly difficult was a minus for me but the hardcore will love it. Therefore fans of horror games, get your ’pads at the ready.
Forbidden Siren is a survival horror game based on Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos novels, and is hugely Japanese, which all horror games seem to be. From the outset, there is a great deal of confusion and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing - but that’s part of it. As a game, it challenges the norm of easing you in, in favour of mercilessly throwing you in at the deep-end.
The quality of the video is impressive (even for a non-horror fan) and I noticed that the faces of the characters were scanned. In one of the opening story scenes, you see a guy peering through the woodland at a girl with a dog (I was hoping she was the siren, but I had the wrong end of the stick…). The girl’s face looked real, even if the dog was a CGI blob. Graphically the horror classics are here. Things are not what they seem, there is an over-whelming attention to detail. The torch/fog effects are all there so you can’t really see what is coming towards you, and normally you don’t want to.
There are 18 characters to play, all with a unique chapter, providing great variety and extent. Some of these characters are not great fighters, so obviously, the way to win is not to take the gung-ho approach - you do need to think and that’s what makes it a challenge. You can also tune in on other characters senses, so you can see through their eyes and see where they are - it’s a great effect and very scary.
Overall, the story is strong and it needs to be - the dependence on thought over action means that the plot needs to hold up. I didn’t like the game, I don’t like the genre, but I have to admit that this is scary and hard. It feels like horror, and I don’t think I’m going to sleep for a week. Surprising and good but you’ll only get the most out of it if you’re a fan of the genre. Potential new converts should rent first.