Siren (video game)
North American cover
|Developer(s)||SCE Japan Studio|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Siren (サイレン Sairen ), known as Forbidden Siren in Europe and Australasia, is a survival horror video game developed by Project Siren, a development team of SCE Japan Studio, for the PlayStation 2 in 2003. The story revolves around an interconnected cast of characters that possess a power which enables them to see and hear what a nearby character sees. The game was followed by a PlayStation 2 sequel, an enhanced remake for the PlayStation 3 and a film adaption. The game is also known for it's disturbing content almost resulting in an outright ban.
Siren is divided into stages, each taking place in one of ten areas in the village of Hanuda, and organized chronologically in a table called the "Link Navigator". In order to complete a stage, the player must accomplish a primary objective that usually involves reaching an exit point, subduing undead enemies called "Shibito", or finding an item. Objectives in different stages are interconnected via a butterfly effect, and a character's actions in one stage can trigger a secondary objective in another stage.
There are miscellaneous items scattered throughout each stage that give the player further insight into the plot's background. Once obtained, these items are archived in a catalog and can be viewed at any time during the game's duration. The game's player characters possess a psychic power named "sightjack," which enables them to see and hear what a nearby Shibito or human sees and hears, and thus pinpoint its position, as well as gain knowledge of their activities and of the position of obtainable items. The clarity of each target depends on the distance from the player character. Once a point of view is located, it can be assigned to one of certain buttons of the controller to easily switch between multiple points of view. However, the player character is unable to move during use of the ability and is thus vulnerable to attack.
The game encourages the player to avoid Shibito rather than fight them. Characters can walk silently, avoid the use of a flashlight, and crouch behind objects to elude detection. Certain mission objectives require the player character to use items and/or the environment to distract Shibito from their activity, in order for them to achieve a goal. Others require the player to escort a non-player character. Player characters can also shout at any time in order to get the attention of nearby Shibito. Within most stages, the player character can hide in certain places such as cupboards and lock doors to prevent Shibito from entering. When a Shibito hears a sound made by the player character, it will search in the direction from which they heard the sound. If a character is seen by a Shibito, the latter will pursue the character to kill them either with a melee or ranged weapon or by strangulation. The Shibito will also shout to alert other nearby Shibito. Once the character has remained out of the Shibito's sight for a period of time, the Shibito will give up and resume its usual habits. Weapons are available for the player throughout the game, ranging from melee weapons to firearms. While Shibito can be knocked out in combat, they cannot be killed and will reanimate after a period of time. If a character is injured, they can recover after some time has passed. Characters will lose stamina during combat and while running.
Siren is set in a Japanese village named Hanuda (Hanyuda in the Japanese version). With strong religious beliefs important in the area, the locals like to keep to themselves and have sought to keep Hanuda isolated from the outside world. Following the interruption of a ritual near Hanuda, and a subsequent earthquake, the village teeters between time and space, with an infinite sea of red water replacing the mountainous territory. The crux of the story focuses on the efforts of Hisako Yao, the leader of the local religion, to resurrect or re-awaken a god through a ceremony. The 'Siren' of the title is the god's call, summoning Hanuda's residents to immerse themselves in the red water, thus creating an army of subordinates called shibito (屍人 shibito , lit. "corpse people"). The shibito then go about building a nest to house the god's corporeal form once it is summoned, as well as killing and converting any remaining humans left in Hanuda. The story is told through the perspectives of ten survivors, some of whom are natives of Hanuda, and is presented out of chronological order over the three days in which the plot takes place.
- Kyoya Suda, 16, travels to Hanuda in search of a village where a massacre occurred years ago, but accidentally stumbles on the ceremony.
- Tamon Takeuchi, 34, is a professor of Folklore and Legends in the Cultural Anthropology Department at Josei University, and was born in Hanuda. He lost his parents as a child during an earthquake and the landslide that followed. He has returned to Hanuda, ostensibly to study local folklore, but is actually searching for the truth behind what happened to his parents.
- Yoriko Anno, 22, is a student from Josei University, and a pupil of Tamon's. She insists on accompanying him to Hanuda, and becomes caught up in the events that transpire. Yoriko has a crush on Tamon, whom she revers.
- Kei Makino, 27, is a priest in the local religion and the identical twin brother of Shiro Miyata, with whom he has a frosty relationship as they were raised by different parents in a different manner.
- Shiro Miyata, 27, is a doctor who was involved in a relationship with a nurse at a local hospital named Mina Onda.
- Risa Onda,21, has come to Hanuda to see her identical twin sister, Mina Onda.
- Mina Onda, 21, is the identical twin sister of Risa and a nurse at a local hospital. She is involved in a relationship with Miyata.
- Reiko Takato, 29, a school teacher from the local elementary school, she was conducting a star-gazing outing with her pupil Harumi Yomoda when the earthquake hit. She lost her own child in an accident years ago, and now sees Harumi as a surrogate daughter whom she must protect.
- Harumi Yomoda, 10, is a local schoolgirl who lives with her aunt and uncle. She was on a school outing to study constellations when the earthquake hit, and she became trapped in the school with her teacher, Reiko.
- Akira Shimura, 70, has lived in Hanuda his entire life. He lost his wife and son in the same earthquake that took Tamon's parents. A game hunter, he despises Hisako, knowing of her involvement in the events of the village's past.
- Naoko Mihama, 28, is a celebrity who is in Hanuda filming a TV show.
- Tomoko Maeda, 14 (17 in the US version), is a middle school student who has run away from home following an argument with her parents. Now, lost in the underworld of Hanuda, she sets out to try to find them again.
- Hisako Yao is the leader of the local religion. Seemingly a young woman, she is a nun who was granted immortality after eating the flesh of a merman and is thought to be over 2000 years old. Hisako initiates the ceremony that triggers the events of the game.
- Miyako Kajiro, 14, is the latest in a line of special girls born to the Kajiro family whose sacrifice is necessary to resurrect the god. Born blind, she forms a strong bond with Kyoya during the game as she resists her destiny to be sacrificed.
Chronologically, the sequence of events in the game begin in 684 CE. Hanuda is suffering from a severe famine and villagers are feeding on the flesh of a creature who crashed to earth from outer space. As the creature dies, it lets out a scream. The next event takes place in 1976 when an earthquake destroys much of Hanuda. A young Tamon survives, but both of his parents disappear. The story then jumps to 2003, several days prior to the opening of the game. Miyata delivers a letter from the Kajiro family to Makino and Hisako informing them that the time has come to carry out the ceremony.
The game itself begins as Kyoya sees Miyako near Hanuda, but her running away from him. Later on that day, Kyoya witnesses a ceremony taking place, with Miyako at its center. However, as he watches he is spotted by Jun Kajiro, Miyako's brother. Kyoya flees but is pursued by a police officer. An earthquake rocks Hanuda and a siren wails. The policeman is resurrected as a Shibito, and shoots Kyoya, who falls into the nearby river.
Meanwhile, in the earthquake's aftermath, Reiko Takato and Harumi Yomoda are hiding in the school. Reiko sets out to find the principal, Eiji Nagoshi, only to discover that he has turned into a Shibito. Reiko and Harumi flee the school. Elsewhere in Hanuda, Tamon realizes that the rain and rivers have turned red. He sets out to explore the area with Yoriko. In the river, Kyoya regains consciousness, discovering that his gunshot wound has healed, and that the river has turned red. He meets Hisako, who calms him and tells him to follow her. In the forest, Shiro Miyata regains consciousness next to an open grave, expressing alarm that the grave is empty. Risa Onda awakens to find herself in front of an unfamiliar house, unable to remember how she got there. Near the Mana River, Kei Makino walks along the riverbank unable to understand what has happened and decides to find Hisako Yao.
By this stage, Hisako has taken Kyoya to a local church where she explains the Mana religion and some of Hanuda's history. However, hearing a scream outside, Kyoya leaves to investigate. Meanwhile, Miyata meets up with Risa, who asks him if he knows anything about Mina. Miyata tells Risa he too is looking for Mina and they decide to head to a local hospital where both Mina and Miyata work. Shortly after Kyoya leaves the church, Hisako is confronted by Tomoko's parents; the girl has gone missing and Hisako tries to reassure them that she is safe. In the forest, Kyoya finds that it was Miyako who was screaming due to her dog's death. He offers to help her, but they are approached by Jun. Miyako knocks him out and flees the scene with Kyoya. On the outskirts of the forest, as he is out hunting, Akira Shimura senses something foreboding and sets off to investigate.
Miyata and Risa reach the hospital, and Risa catches a glimpse of Mina. In the forest, Akira runs into a lost Naoko. She asks him for help but he leaves her alone. Meanwhile, Makino has met the lost Tomoko. They see villagers heading into the water. Attempting to leave, they are separated, and Makino is forced to go on alone. Alone with Yoriko, Tamon heads off to investigate the situation, leaving her behind. Some time later, Akira saves Yoriko from Shibito and later watch Shibito perform a ceremony. Feeling that all hope is lost, Akira shoots himself in order to commit suicide.
Meanwhile, Makino arrives at the hospital, meeting up with Miyata and Risa. In the forest, Tamon reunites with Yoriko. Tomoko then finds Akira's body and flees in terror. However, she is saved by Hisako, who tells her that her parents are safe and heads into the forest with her. Back in the hospital, as Shiro and Kei discuss the situation, Risa sets out to find Mina. However, she discovers that Mina has indeed turned into a shibito. Mina flees, but Shiro pursues her, telling Kei to look after Risa. Meanwhile, Harumi and Reiko are hiding in an abandoned storeroom until a nearby scream prompts them to flee. Reiko attempts to outwit the shibito by hiding Harumi in a cart, but the shibito realize what is going on and head towards Harumi. Reiko beeps a car horn to get their attention, and when they are close enough, she sets the car on fire, causing an explosion which engulfs both herself and the approaching shibito. Now alone, a terrified Harumi leaves the scene. Kyoya and Miyako are hiding in an abandoned house, and as Kyoya sleeps, Miyako is confronted by her sister, Ayako, who tells Miyako that she is the sacrificial lamb and needs to start acting like it.
The following morning, the siren blares in the distance and the corpse of Akira awakens. As he realizes that even death can't put a stop to the horror, and that now he too will become a shibito, he begins to laugh maniacally. Back in the hospital, Risa and Kei wait for Shiro. However, Mina sneaks into the room and knocks Kei out, cornering a terrified Risa and pressing her face to her sister's. Some time later, Shiro is confronted by Risa dressed in a nurse's uniform. Shiro begins to choke her, prompting him to realize that he is repeating the actions of the past and revealing that the grave he awoke beside was actually Mina's, whom he had strangled. Realizing that Risa is now also a shibito, Shiro flees, finding the powerful Uryen statues in the basement of the hospital. Meanwhile, Kyoya and Miyako are forced to flee the abandoned house when it is attacked by a group of shibito. In the forest, near the point of exhaustion, Naoko succumbs to the power of the siren and wades into the red water, repeatedly saying to herself "Eternal youth." Back in the hospital, the now conscious Kei finds Shiro in the autopsy room, where he is dissecting Risa and Mina. Shiro tells Kei that the shibito can't be killed, no matter what one does to them, they continue to regenerate. Kei says that Shiro is insane and flees the hospital.
In the forest, Tomoko encounters Naoko, now a shibito. But instead of attacking her, Naoko simply laughs and runs in the opposite direction. Upon reaching the church, Tomoko looks inside and is overjoyed to see her parents. As she knocks on the window, they look out to her, but are horrified to discover that she too has turned into a shibito. Meanwhile, on the edge of the red sea, Hisako watches as a pillar of white light rises up from the water. Seeing the light, Miyako explains to Kyoya that the village has been dragged into another dimension that is between the living world and the underworld. At this point, Jun approaches, shooting Kyoya and dragging Miyako away. Elsewhere, Tamon reveals to Yoriko that he was born in Hanuda. However, at that moment, Yoriko is shot. Tamon sets out to kill the shooter, who turns out to be Akira in shibito form, who, it is revealed, was a close friend of Tamon's parents. Meanwhile, on the point of death, Yoriko collapses on the riverbank. Nearby, Kyoya also collapses. Moments later, they are approached by Shiro. At the same time, Harumi is hiding in a closet inside a house, but is horrified to discover a family of shibito entering the house and taking up residence – none other than Tomoko and her parents. As Harumi attempts to flee the property, she meets Reiko, now also a shibito, and has to flee deeper into the forest. Back in the hospital, Yoriko regains consciousness after being transfused with Kyoya's red water infused blood by Shiro. Shiro then leaves, telling her she is on her own from this point forward. Back in the village, which the shibito have now rebuilt to form the nest, Hisako places Miyako on an altar of red light, telling her that she has received the dragon head from the sea, and everything is now ready. As Kyoya and Yoriko approach the nest from outside, they hear Tamon's voice within and head inside.
As the third day dawns, Hisako plays on a church organ as Jun and Ayako watch Miyako burst into flames. Arriving too late to do anything, Kei watches from a safe distance as a huge monster materializes from the flames. Hisako then sets Ayako on fire, telling Jun that they no longer need her. At this point, Tamon appears but realizes he also is too late to stop the ceremony. At the same time, Kyoya and Yoriko arrive. The monster then sets about attacking all present, scattering them throughout the nest. The creature itself however is injured and disappears. Some time later, Tamon regains consciousness, finding that he has been revived by the red water. Nearby is Kyoya and an unconscious Kei. Tamon tells Kyoya that they must stop Hisako before it's too late and they head out, leaving Kei behind. They split up, and Kyoya, with the help of a physic vision sent by Miyako, manages to make it into the core of the nest. Just outside the nest, the now conscious Kei encounters Shiro, neither of them noticing that nearby, Harumi has crawled into the nest. Shiro laments his actions, saying he has been a fool and his role is now finished. He raises a gun to his own head and says goodbye to Kei, before shooting Kei dead. Now lost in the Core, Kyoya slumps to the ground, without any idea what to do. He is approached by Shiro who has burned his own clothes and is now posing as Kei. Shiro gives him one of the Uryen statues, telling him that he must destroy the nest. Shiro then leaves on his own mission. He heads back through the abandoned village to the edge of the red sea. Looking down into the water, he sees wasting human figures; those who have rejected becoming shibito but who cannot die due to the red water, and so suffer on in agony until the curse can be broken. Shiro climbs down into the reservoir, and using his own life force as energy, he invokes the Uyren's holy flame to free the trapped souls. A pit opens in the ground and a white light spills from it. In the light, Shiro sees the freed souls of Risa and Mina calling to him. He walks towards them joyfully, falling into the pit.
Back in the nest, Kyoya finally makes it to the center; the Mirror Pool. Drawing upon the power of Miyako's blood, Kyoya makes his way past the Mirror Pool into the Inferno. Elsewhere in the nest, Tamon is beginning to feel the effects of the red water as he starts to turn into a shibito. Hearing two voices calling to him, he heads out in search of them, finally discovering them to be the voices of his parents. He collapses into their arms and begins to cry. In the Inferno, Kyoya finds Hisako tending to the injured Datatsushi, the dragon god. Kyoya kills Jun and is then forced to fight Datatsushi itself. Using the Uryen statue he is able to weaken it enough to decapitate it. Enveloped in the blue flames of the Uryen, Datatsushi dies, and seeing this, Hisako suddenly ages and falls into a nearby abyss. Back in the nest, Harumi is cornered by Eiji Nagoshi, with no hope of escape. However, Eiji is suddenly attacked by the shibito Reiko, still determined to save Harumi. As Eiji and Reiko fight, the floor gives way underneath them and they plummet down. Harumi then collapses, and as she lies on the ground, the shadow of a figure approaches her.
The following day, Kyoya enters the village carrying numerous guns and the Utyen, laying waste to the remaining shibito. Several hours later, he walks through the desolated village having exterminated all the shibito, before slowly walking away into the mist. Elsewhere, Yoriko bursts in upon the Takeuchi family and drags Tamon away from his shibito parents. Meanwhile, back in the real world Hanuda, a confused and tearful Harumi wanders through the destroyed village as the sounds of helicopters approach. At the end of it all, Harumi is the only real-world survivor of the incident, and is airlifted to safety by Takeaki Misawa (a playable character in Forbidden Siren 2) of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
|This section is incomplete. (January 2013)|
Rather than employ traditional facial animation methods with polygonal transformation, images of real human faces were captured from eight different angles and superimposed onto the character models, an effect similar to projecting film onto the blank face of a mannequin.
Siren received generally positive scores, with a score of 71.24% on GameRankings based on 65 reviews, and 72% on Metacritic, based on 48 reviews. Features of the game which were especially praised were the graphics, particularly the facial animation, and the complex and deep storyline. Much criticism, however, was aimed at the high difficulty, the unforgiving nature of the game, the relatively useless map feature which didn't show the player's position in the game field, the obscure nature of some of the puzzles and a general tendency for players to have to utilize trial-and-error methods to progress through the game.
GameSpot awarded the game a score of 6.7 out of 10, with a rating of "Fair." Reviewer Bethany Massimilla concluded that although the game had a great story, and interesting characters, it was "ultimately marred by tedious trial-and-error-based design that makes it best suited to survival horror fans with a good store of patience [...] While the need to know what happened in the village of Hanuda can sustain you, it's a hard ride through all the tedious trial and error you have to engage in simply to pass a level and move on. Fans of the genre interested in something new may be game for Siren if they're possessed with lots of patience--but they're the only ones this game is truly suited for."
IGN scored the game 7.7 out of 10. Reviewer Jeremy Dunham praised the originality of the concept, the use of Sightjacking, the graphics and the storyline, but criticized the difficulty level and the trial and error nature of the gameplay; "At the end of the day, Siren is one of those rare kinds of games that overcomes gameplay shortcomings with its concept, style, and storyline. For those of us that allow ourselves to be immersed by it, it's undeniable to say that the game isn't among one of the scariest experiences on the market; and we're not just talking about the how ugly the monster faces are either. We're referring to its terrific combination of atmosphere, pacing, and storyline twists as well. And let us not forget that the Sight-Jacking system serves as a great way to breathe new life into a genre that has otherwise seen little innovation since its inception 12 years ago. Yet despite that fact, Siren definitely isn't for everyone. As there will unquestionably be a great crowd of gamers that find the trial and error gameplay overly frustrating as they attempt to solve obscure puzzles and slip by the incredibly belligerent Shibito. The clunky menu system and sometimes awkward viewpoint controls will likely grow tiresome for less patient players too, and the armpit voice acting takes away from what could have been the spookiest audio in the history of the PlayStation 2. The good news is that the positive in Siren outweighs the negative, and for players willing to give the storyline and weaker gameplay elements a chance there's one hell of a ride in store for them."
GameSpy scored the game 4 out of 5, with Bryan Stratton following other reviewers in praising the storyline and atmosphere, but criticizing the nature of the gameplay; "For all of the things that Siren does well, there are a number of things that keep it from being a truly A-list survival-horror game. Siren's biggest problem is that it can get very frustrating very early on. If you're not a fan of unforgiving stealth-based gameplay, you're going to die often and repeat missions to the point where it becomes more tedious than scary. Some of the missions are extremely frustrating, such as the ones in which you have to lead a helpless character past several Shibito, or any mission with a Shibito sniper. [...] Siren's controls and camera are also on the sloppy side, which seems to be a genre-wide curse. One of the worst aspects of the control scheme is the way your character is momentarily stunned whenever you accidentally run into a solid object. God help you if you've got a sniper's crosshairs trained on you while you're trying to run through an open doorway, because there's a 50-50 chance you'll clip the doorframe, stumble backwards, and get shot. These wouldn't be such major issues if Siren had scalable difficulty options that allowed less skilled or less patient gamers to avoid getting stuck on one mission, but Siren is intended to be played in one way and one way only, and its inflexibility is going to turn many gamers off. Still, for each thing that Siren doesn't do well, there are two innovative ideas that make it worthy of high praise. It is definitely not a game that will appeal to every survival-horror fan. Those who enjoy it will rank it among their favorite games of all time. Those who don't should hope that some of Siren's good ideas are stolen by developers who can implement them in a less frustrating game."
A Japanese film adaption of the video game, titled Forbidden Siren and starring Yui Ichikawa, was released on February 9, 2006 to coincide with the release of the second game in the series, Forbidden Siren 2.
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- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Janokubi Valley/Bridge/Day 2/10:29:56.
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- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Tabori/Living Room/Day 2/15:19:59.
- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Miyata Clinic/Ward 1/Day 2/16:03:07.
- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: The Nest/Mirror Pool/Day 2/19:02:37.
- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Arato/Banks of the Mana River/Day 2/20:31:33.
- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: The Nest/Mirror Pool/Day 3/00:00:08.
- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: The Nest/Near Level 4/Day 3/03:03:27.
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- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. "Archive No.093"
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- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Gojaku Peak/Mana River Floodgates/Day 3/18:05:28.
- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: Gojaku Peak/Mana River Floodgates/Day 3/18:39:58.
- Project Siren. Siren. (SCE Japan). PlayStation 2. Level/area: The Nest/Mirror Pool/Day 3/20:57:55.
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