Forbidden Siren 2

A for effort; D for execution: that’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 it’s a title that leaves a lot to be desired.

Forbidden Siren 2 is another entry to the now-clichéd ‘Gothic’ or ‘Survival Horror’ 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 ‘sight-jacking’ mechanic. But the flaws in the game blunt what is potentially an exceptional experience.

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That’s because there is a fine line between terror and frustration when it comes to ‘Gothic’ video games; and when the control scheme is fundamentally broken, it’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. You’ll always be able to tell what’s lying around the next corner because you can see through its eyes.

So with the true essence of terror removed, everything ‘Gothic’ about the game is removed. So everything becomes about the clichéd ‘Survival Horror’. 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 – a nice, original touch, to be sure – is the second you suddenly realize that originality isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Even when you can see what lies behind the corner, you’re not guaranteed to avoid it with ease. Indeed, you’re often asked to escort others: something the video games industry should realize is a chore outside of Ico. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to restart a level because the bovine AI has managed to find itself eaten by the enemy.

It’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. It’s not just a case of switching between ‘Mom’ and ‘Mum’; there is some real ‘Engrish’ that fails to match up with the rather solid voice acting. Since subtitles are enabled by default, it’s disappointing that you have to venture into the options to correct the flaws of a rushed of half-assed localization.

And it’s not just the subtitles that a player may feel obliged to correct. When an enemy spots the player, the viewpoint will instantly ‘sight jack’ to the enemy. It’s rather annoying to lose your own vision when you’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 isn’t a motivation to keep playing.

Even though Forbidden Siren 2 does many things right – it’s nice to finally see the entire body when looking down in first-person view – it does a lot more wrong. As a consequence, it’s hard to recommend the game. If you’re a diehard of the ‘Survival Horror’ genre, you might find something to like here. Everyone else should avoid the game until the flaws are fixed in the inevitable sequel.

"Flawed potential."
- Forbidden Siren 2
Follow Own it? Rating: R16   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 45 Min


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