A for effort; D for execution: thatâ€™s Forbidden Siren 2 in a nutshell. Forbidden Siren 2 oozes with potential, but the generally half-assed attitude to the game design and the PAL conversion means that itâ€™s a title that leaves a lot to be desired.
Forbidden Siren 2 is another entry to the now-clichÃ©d â€˜Gothicâ€™ or â€˜Survival Horrorâ€™ genre. Like its predecessor, it brings many fresh elements to the table. Its Memento-style storyline will constantly ask the player to reevaluate everything. The gameplay offers something unique with its â€˜sight-jackingâ€™ mechanic. But the flaws in the game blunt what is potentially an exceptional experience.
Thatâ€™s because there is a fine line between terror and frustration when it comes to â€˜Gothicâ€™ video games; and when the control scheme is fundamentally broken, itâ€™s likely to lead to the latter. Indeed, such is the case with Forbidden Siren 2.
It is one thing to be afraid to walk around a corner because of what may lie behind it. However, Forbidden Siren 2 removes this fear by allowing the player to see what the enemy sees: including you. Youâ€™ll always be able to tell whatâ€™s lying around the next corner because you can see through its eyes.
So with the true essence of terror removed, everything â€˜Gothicâ€™ about the game is removed. So everything becomes about the clichÃ©d â€˜Survival Horrorâ€™. And survival has never been such a chore.
The chief villain in the game is not an antagonist character but the control scheme. Fans of the genre are used to tank-like controls, but Forbidden Siren 2 takes them to new levels. They are partly avoided by playing the game in the first person view, but the second you have to control a blind man through the eyes of a seeing-eye dog â€“ a nice, original touch, to be sure â€“ is the second you suddenly realize that originality isnâ€™t necessarily a good thing.
Even when you can see what lies behind the corner, youâ€™re not guaranteed to avoid it with ease. Indeed, youâ€™re often asked to escort others: something the video games industry should realize is a chore outside of Ico. Thereâ€™s nothing more frustrating than having to restart a level because the bovine AI has managed to find itself eaten by the enemy.
Itâ€™s a major frustration that exemplifies the half-assed nature that Forbidden Siren 2 has been translated for Western markets. There are other clues: the subtitles are ridiculously half-assed. Itâ€™s not just a case of switching between â€˜Momâ€™ and â€˜Mumâ€™; there is some real â€˜Engrishâ€™ that fails to match up with the rather solid voice acting. Since subtitles are enabled by default, itâ€™s disappointing that you have to venture into the options to correct the flaws of a rushed of half-assed localization.
And itâ€™s not just the subtitles that a player may feel obliged to correct. When an enemy spots the player, the viewpoint will instantly â€˜sight jackâ€™ to the enemy. Itâ€™s rather annoying to lose your own vision when youâ€™re attempting to line up your aim for a snipe shot.
All the gameplay frustrations would be forgiven if the story was worthwhile. However, a poor translation coupled with a disjointed narrative has resulted in a story that is confusing and hard to follow; and as a result it isnâ€™t a motivation to keep playing.
Even though Forbidden Siren 2 does many things right â€“ itâ€™s nice to finally see the entire body when looking down in first-person view â€“ it does a lot more wrong. As a consequence, itâ€™s hard to recommend the game. If youâ€™re a diehard of the â€˜Survival Horrorâ€™ genre, you might find something to like here. Everyone else should avoid the game until the flaws are fixed in the inevitable sequel.