It’s been a long time since I was truly horrified by a video game. Some of my favorite horror video games include the Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, and Dead Space among many others. Yet, recent horror games tend to lean towards more action and less of the ‘scare’ element like Resident Evil 6. I missed the days when horror was more of a subtle suggestion instead of an “in your face” kind of thing. Sometimes all you need are silhouettes and an eerie soundtrack to scare the crap out of players. If you think about it, we are mostly frightened by our imagination than what we actually see in the game. Gargantuan and deformed monsters? Pass. Hordes of zombies? Pass. Give me an empty corridor, chilly music, suggestive camera shots, distant echoes of woeful moans (or children laughing), and I can guarantee you a week’s worth of nightmares.
Looking back, one of the best horror video games I have ever played growing up was ‘Forbidden Siren.’ The first entry in the series came out for the PlayStation 2. My cousins and myself had no idea what this game was about when we bought it. We were utterly terrified. Forbidden Siren is a game that features multiple protagonist as they try to escape a town amidst possessed zombie like town’s folk called shibitos. The best thing about this game is that the shibitos don’t die, and you have to rely on the character’s ‘sightjack’ ability (let’s you see through the perspective of the shibitos in the area) to escape.
I really liked the idea that the shibitos can’t die in the game. It amps up the tension and scare factor in the game because you know they’ll come back regardless of what you do to stop them. You can have guns in addition to melee weapons, but you’ll often rely on the latter because of lacking ammunition or that it will attract attention if I remember correctly. Sightjack gives you the ability to see through the perspective of the shibitos. This enables you to study their patterns and routes when they travel around the area. One time, my cousins and myself were trying to make out an unrecognizable figure the shibito was approaching via sightjack. As the creature got closer, we suddenly realized that he was approaching us from behind. We panicked to the point that we were too frazzled to respond, so we ended up shutting off the PS2 instead. You’ll also get moments wherein you’ll find a shibito right behind you while switching through various perspectives.
The game requires patience and resourcefulness since you really have to study their routes and time when to knock them out. There are moments when I spend more than an hour in one spot just because I’m too scared to take a chance. The shibitos are scary as hell. It’s noted that they are reanimated corpses that still have a degree of intelligence and personality in them. No, you can’t talk your way out of murder though. By intelligence, these shibitos can open doors and use weapons to attack you. There was one part of the game where I was running away from a shibito, and I thought I was safe hiding inside a closet. However, I was wrong and it was trying to open the door. Picture me panicking while simultaneously mashing buttons to keep it closed. One awesome thing too is the fact that you can use your surroundings as a distraction or as a mechanism to paralyze them.
If I’m not mistaken, this series is a PlayStation exclusive and there are more than one Forbidden Siren games out there. It’s available in the PlayStation Store, and I highly recommend it if you want a good scare that challenges you. It truly is a video game that I consider a classic. A simple and tense experience at the same time.