Zombies have always been a hot topic in games. Right now, we’re seeing a resurgence due to the outpouring of love for Resident Evil 2, people preparing to say goodbye to Clementine in The Walking Dead: The Final Season, and hype for Days Gone. But, a lot of these are rather typical depictions of the undead. Let’s get a little crazy. Let’s sound the alarm. Let’s have PlayStation Classics take us back to Siren.
Do you remember Siren? (Or, for our European friends, Forbidden Siren?) It’s a relatively obscure first-party release where horror and atmosphere are a big deal, but was enough of a cult-classic to get a new manga celebrating its 15th anniversary. Turn on your PS4s and PS3s, because it’s time to take a trip to Hanuda.
You Gotta Be Shibito-ing Me
If you weren’t already suspicious of isolated Japanese villages and mysterious rituals because of games like Fatal Frame 2, Siren is going to make you prepared to question everything. A mysterious ritual and earthquake have hit the town of Hanuda, with the residents exposed to mysterious Red Water being turned into Shibito. They’re now undead minions of some sort desperate to fulfill some sort of task, but they’re also rather intelligent and possess traits of their former self.
But not everyone in Hanuda is a Shibito. There are ten people who have retained their sense of self. Some want to survive. Others want to escape. A few brave souls even want to find out the truth behind what is going on. However, everyone has a few things in common. One is that for each person, flight is usually preferable to fight. You don’t want people to try and attack these Shibito, who will relentlessly pursue people when they know someone is around. It draws attention to yourself and isn’t very effective, since you’re only knocking them out. The other commonality is that people can sightjack, which allows them to sightjack the vision of a nearby human, Shibito, or in some cases even animal. If you can keep away and stay safe, the Shibito may forget about you and you might even heal up enough from an attack to keep going.
In Your Sights
Your actions and decisions in Siren have huge effects on the world around you. So many things the players do influence their stories and, in some cases, those of people around them. The game is split into scenarios that have you jumping between the ten survivors, seeing how one’s actions could have an impact on another’s. Shibitos are observant, with good eyesight and hearing. You have to constantly pay attention.
Like consider the lengths people have to go to in Siren to stay under the radar. It is possible to hide from the Shibuto in areas, with some locations having a way to lock or barricade to keep them out. You can choose how characters walk, perhaps moving more stealthily and quietly than engaging in a normal walk. Since Shibito can alert one another, relying on sounds and even a sort of hive mind, using items to distract one, drawing all of them to a spot, can help.
But sightjacking is most important. Especially since the camera isn’t the best in Siren. (Though, the sightjacking lines might not always offer the best views too.) If you can see yourself through a Shibito’s eyes, you are in big trouble. If someone else is around, you can look through their own eyes to get an idea of what to expect in an area or if there are resources you can use. This gets especially interesting when it comes to Miyako, a young woman who is one of the survivors. You don’t play as her, but you escort her around. However, she also has the ability to sightjack, using her guide dog to help her. Though, when she is partnered up with Kyoya in the game, most of his missions end up being escort ones to help her survive.
Our Zombies Are Different
Siren is one of those games that attempts to tell a zombie story while injecting new elements into the formula. What if you have multiple survivors separated and dealing with this terrible situation? How do you deal with zombies that can’t be killed, are smart, communicate well with one another, and even act a bit like they did in life? How can sightjacking these creatures and other humans help you find your way through and survive? Well, if you are feeling brave and have a PS3 or PS4, you can find out. You can get it for $9.99 on the PS3 or PS4 via the North American PlayStation Store, £7.99 for the PS4 on the European PlayStation Store, and ¥1,234 on the PS3 and ¥309 per episode on the PS4 on the Japanese PlayStation Store. Unfortunately, it is not available in Europe for the PS3.