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Retrospective: Siren

Horror games don't always do well, it's a hard genre to make work just right; unlike, say, racing games or action games where aesthetics and atmosphere are secondary to the mechanics horror is all about atmosphere; a game can be great horror but have piss-poor mechanics or vice versa have great mechanics and play well but not really feel very scary. Just having an axe-wielding murderer in your game doesn't instantly make it good horror. You have to carefully craft the experience so the player feels like they're really a part of the world and feels as though they really are in danger if you want to create really good horror which, needless to say, is difficult to do.

For awhile atleast, the PS2 provided the right sort of space for these types of games to flourish, a mix of the right sort of technical capacity and a sub-set of developers morbidly inclined enough to want to scare people silly. The result was a slew of really successful horror games - many of them from Japan - that really defined the decade, including, but not limited to, the likes of the Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and Siren series', and it's Siren I want to talk about today.

This is especially true in some of the later stages atleast one of which has a very tight time limit (undisclosed within the game), where you're often assailed by multiple foes, some of whom may be armed with deadly rifles. Have I mentioned they're ridiculously accurate with said rifles and one-to-two shots will kill most characters? Yeah, it's that hard. Much like with the atmosphere, what makes Siren so frustrating is not so much one single aspect of the game but the cumulative effect of all the different aspects of the gameplay that make it so frustrating indeed, much of what makes it a really good piece of horror and excellent survival horror is also what makes it so frustrating to play and potentially unappealing to the vast majority of gamers.

Siren's a flawed game in some respects but it's also an excellent piece of horror, I can't help but feel that putting the control, continue and difficulty problems aside the only thing that really mars the game, the EU release atleast, is the god awful vocal talent, everything else, though terribly punishing, is atleast forgivable. I know I'll be playing the game for years to come ...just maybe on mute a whole lot ; )
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About Panzadolphin56one of us since 9:54 AM on 05.06.2011

Oh hey!

I'm former male model and celebrity nutritionist Panzadolphin56. This is my blog. I write things here.

...in case the blog bit didn't give that away.

Anyway! To the left you'll find my latest blogs, and beneath this you'll find a fairly comprehensive list of most of what I've written over the years (unfortunately some stuff does eventually get bumped off the list.)

I like to write from a fairly critical standpoint about games, usually analysis or talking about issues that interest me, I also do retrospectives from time to time, talk about games I've been playing, write the funny things that come into my head, and very occasionally do some crappy art.

I hope you enjoy what you read!

I also do Lets Plays (mostly old horror games) so if that's your thing then click here:


Everyone who clicks will not win a million dollars!


A little about me:

I am mostly a story person, good mechanics are good mechanics but button pressing never does anything for me. I like Horror, I like Cyberpunk, I like Neo-Noir (especially crossed with Cyberpunk), I like good art and good writing, I like games that cut against the grain or choose to challenge social or industry norms in some way.

I don't have a single favourite game but I am a big fan of the MGS games, Snatcher, the Forbidden Siren series, Silent Hill 2, the old-school Resident Evils, Advance Wars and Power Dolls, among many, many others.


Critical Pieces:

How ugly should Horror really be?
Of Inventories and Horror Games
Crafting A Good Game of 'The Thing'
Alien(s), Creative license and Borrowed Ideas
Crossing from TV/Movie to Games
Scope and Depth in the world of gaming
Boss Battles - When do they ever make sense?
Survival Horror Essentials
Colonial Marines: Well, that kind of sucked...
Disability, Disease in Games
Blood 2 and Post-Modernism
Topics, Tropes and Atmosphere in Horror games
Realism Vs. Fantasy - Who Wins?
The gradual drift away from the mainstream
Is There Horror in The Ugly...?
The Fourth Wall and taking games seriously
Are You Always Online?
Hype: Aliens Vs. Predator
To shoot stuff or not to shoot stuff?
Character Design and Choice in Games
Culture Vs. Creativity: Where do Stories come from?
Where you go Isometric-Strategy Games?
What's the Point of Games?
Do Horror games even still exist...?
Why are Characters Always so White...?
Choice in Games: Heavy Rain

A Magical Dolphin Plays:

The King of the Wood


Resident Evil Remake
Aliens Vs Predator 2
Sweet Home
Forbidden Siren
System Shock 2

Pick up and Plays:

Call of Cthulhu and the Spectre of Good Horror
Story Books and Nightmares in Rule of Rose
B-Movie Bliss: Extermination
Along for the ride with Michigan: Report From Hell
Some thoughts on Wargame: European Escalation
Skyrim: Impressions

Funny/Less Critical Stuff:

Get Yo Summer Game On
Lazyblog: Box Art
Escaping into the Darkness of Hellnight
Diversity what what?!?: Black Mamba Edition
Why Do We Still Have Exploding Barrels...?


Dead Space 3, in a nut shell.
CROSSOVER: Mario X Siren
Boss: Learning the Tools of the Trade

Front Pages:
Tales from Skyrim: The skinhead shopkeep
Steam ID:Panzadolphin56
Mii code:This is a thing?


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