Siren: Blood Curse - AAA horror without having to talk to a Gamestop clerk

I just played through the first 4 episodes of Siren: Blood Curse on the PS3. It is fantastic so far. Great sound design, scary as all hell, great graphics. The controls are a little wonky, but playing in first person is System Shock tense at times. If you dig scary games, you have to get this.

The game is divided into 12 episodes, and each episode has 1-3 “chapters” you play through. They all tell a connected story, and follow several different characters through the storyline. It’s set up almost exactly like the new Alone in the Dark was, where you can go back and play any episode or chapter, and at the beginning of every new episode there is a “previously on Siren” bit. The only difference between this and Alone in the Dark is, this doesn’t suck. It’s actually “episodic content” done right.

The pricing is $15 for a block of 4 episodes, or $40 ($5 off) if you but all 12 at once. They’re all available on PSN right now.

The best part? I got home, sat on my couch, pressed a few buttons, and within 10 minutes I’m playing a AAA PS3 game. Didn’t have to drive anywhere, be harassed about preordering Soul Calibur, smell a Gamestop, stand in line at Best Buy with the latest Pdiddy video blasting at me from 4 televisions… nothing.

I love it. I want to get every game like this.

I tried the demo last night and I have mixed feelings about it. The graphics are pretty well done and the monsters/zombies are well designed and sufficiently creepy. I wish I could turn off or tone down the grain filter though. It’s a bit much really. The sound is also pretty well done and scary, especially the maddened shrieks of the zombies.

My biggest gripe from the demo was the controls. The right stick camera control in particular is pretty awful. Instead of moving the camera in 3D space, moving the right stick instead just pans the camera around from a fixed place behind your character. It can only pan a little ways, and it’s very digital and jarring. That is, it sort of jumps to its confined limit quickly and really isn’t any good for anything, especially when zombies are bearing down quickly. Because of this, you’re essentially controlling your character with the left stick only, meaning you have to turn around like a tank, which again, isn’t ideal.

Melee combat works fine, though it’d be nice if there was some visual indication as to which zombie you’re “locked” in on. This goes double for gunplay. Shooting works fine because your character seems to autoaim at the zombie you’re looking at, but being able to cycle through targets would be nice, if they’re set on not providing an actual aiming reticle.

I didn’t realize that a first person view was possible in this game, at least while moving. I saw two camera options, one the sticks straight behind the character and one that attempts to view things from over the shoulder. The behind the back camera option worked much better in my opinion, as the over the shoulder view simply made it even harder to see what is going on around your character. This would be a problem with gunplay, as the behind the back view doesn’t allow you to see the front of your gun while pointing it, but because the game auto aims, it’s totally unnecessary to point the gun with any sort of fine accuracy.

It was hard to glean much of the story from the demo, but what was there was pretty interesting. I particularly like the Japanese horror movie feel of the whole thing.

I am a little confused about the “episodic” nature of this game. You can buy it all at once for $40 or in three parts for $15 a piece. I really don’t understand why they decided to split it into episodes when all of the episodes are available immediately. I suppose for a gamer on a budget, it might be nice to buy one episode pack per month, but otherwise the choice to split the episodes up into discrete packs seems pretty arbitrary and frankly, unnecessary.

I bought it and am having a lot of fun with it. The controls are a bit wonky but you can at least switch between 3rd and 1st person view which helps.

PSN is having a renaissance at the moment with Siren, PJE, big summer sale of Bowling, Pain, PJ Monsters, & Poker @ $5 each. Good stuff.

Is it true that the whole package is 10 gigs? Damn, that’s a whole lot! If you buy can you delete it off the HDD and re-download the game at any time later off PSN like you can with Steam?

Based on comments in another forum you can do that and you can re-download the game later.
You can also install each pack of episodes (3 episodes each) individually and delete the installed one after having finished it playing before downloading the next pack.
10 gig is right (also according to the other forum).

Yeah, just like other PSN games, you can download them as many times as you want as long as it’s from the same account. All 12 Episodes are their own files too. So, as you play through, you can delete the old ones off your drive. This also makes it so you can start playing earlier, as you can download the first episode, install it, and have the other episodes downloading in the background as you play.

Also, I really didn’t like the demo for this game either. However, the full version is pretty damn good.

Reviews have been very positive as well. Eurogamer giving it a 9 (which is why I decided to try it out even after not liking the demo) and Famitsu gave it a 9/9/9/9

Is the full version different than the demo in some way(s)?

Yes. Every episode plays out somewhat differently. Sometimes you’re in a big open area with multiple solutions, other times you’re in an action-heavy area. The way the whole thing works together is the best part… the demo was disjointed, and neither scenario made much sense or was very fun. Once you realize that every chapter is distinct to itself gameplay-wise, everything comes together and clicks.

For instance, in the second demo mission where you have to find a gun and fight your way out, you’re wondering why it’s so easy to shoot things and why you have unlimited ammo. None of this matters in the grand scheme of things, you’re playing out a vignette… as long as you survive and complete the goals, you open the next chapter. You can barely get out with minimum health, and you’ll still move the story forward.

It’s a really unique approach to survival horror… and I think it works great.

Interesting. When playing in first person, does the control improve? That is, does it control as one would expect a dual analog first person control scheme to function?

Have the controls for close ranged combat improved at all over the original? I remember it being more about just moving back and forth hitting the guy. Does the game still have hidden objectives that are required to progress?

Does the game still feature sightjacking? Because as creepy as it was, it got kind of old after a while, figuring out zombie patrol routes by spying through their eyes.

First person controls while aiming a gun allow for mouselook and strafe. Normal first person is wonky, one stick turns and moves, and the other moves your head to look around quickly. It’s not ideal, but it works.

Melee combat is the same. You generally want to sneak up on an enemy from behind and bean them in the head… but if you get in a tussle, it’s hit and scoot.

Sightjacking is in, but not all characters have it. In this version it splits the screen, so you can see your viewpoint and the sightjacked viewpoint.

It has to be stressed that every character plays differently. There are helpless characters you play who have to avoid enemies (the stealth is actually decent in this game using sightjacking), some are badass gun toters where you blow everything away, and others are a mix of the two.

Please tell me the zombie snipers are out.

According to the full Eurogamer review (which gave it an 8), they are indeed out.

No shit?! That right there might turn Siren:BC from an interesting but ultimately unplayable game (a la the original) into the Silent Hill killer.

The snipers guaranteed that I had more fun watching Siren 1 playthroughs on Youtube than I did, you know, actually playing the game.

Agree completely , the zombie snipers were the reason that I gave up the game the first time I played it. The first level where they could hit you from a dark corridor was frustrating as hell to get through.

Same here. I got past the first zombie sniper section, and then when it got to the point where it was a fucking gauntlet of them, that was the end of that game. Sneaking around to avoid creepy zombie villagers? Hell yes. Helpless and scared? Awesome, I’m on board. Zombie sniper shooting galleries? Fuck you, suck my cock in hell.

Thanks for the info, looks like this just became a must-purchase.

I get the impression from Japanese games that maybe Japanese gamer culture just hasn’t learned how to deal with two analog sticks yet. I remember Ryan Payton saying this during an interview, and what I can remember from Japanese games bears this out. I’m finding it frustrating to play this game with one stick in Siren. It feels clunky and archaic.

That was my take on the controls in the demo too. Still, I ultimately ended up buying the game (downloading now) as I don’t think the somewhat archaic control will hamper my enjoyment too much. I do wonder though, why can’t Japanese devs seem to get a handle on dual analog controls? I mean, wasn’t the SONY Dual Shock the first controller to even offer dual analog sticks?

It’s ending up with increasingly absurd control schemes, too. Resident Evil 5 is a good example of this - the need to avoid using the right analog stick in any quick and coordinated way is resulting in a control layout that doesn’t make sense. Other games I can think of include Devil May Cry 4 whose right analog stick was woefully underused, and Final Fantasy XII, whose camera was locked inverted (why would someone EVER do that?).