Those blocks? Yeah, they say "666". SPOOKY.
To keep the combat more in line with a traditional Silent Hill title, weapons degrade over time and don't usually last more than a handful of rooms without needing repair. Tool kits help combat this, but are relatively uncommon outside of stores. I'm not sure how a wrench assists in the regular maintenance of a flaming zweihander, but I digress.
The load times in Book of Memories are among the worst I've ever experienced on a handheld. Loading a level up can take well over a minute, and if you happen to die, you'll be reloading the entire level again. Couple this with unskippable cutscenes prior to any of the Guardian fights and you'll begin to wonder if solid-state media is really as advantageous as everyone says it is.
Played in co-op, Book of Memories becomes a bit better, but not by much. Four players can play together, either online or over an ad-hoc connection, though finding four people who own a Vita in close proximity to each other is only slightly harder than capturing a unicorn. Online it is! You can either host or join a game from a game browser, though the lack of drop-in/drop-out really hurts your ability to find open matches. When hosting, you have to sit in a lobby and wait for players to join; once you start your adventure, no additional players can join. Sadface.
Naturally, only the host's progress is saved, though experience, weapons and memory residue earned in co-op is retained. Voice chat and some simple chat macros help players communicate with one another, but it was rare for me to get anybody to talk, and it seemed that nobody bothered to figure out how to use the chat macros.
The best part about this boss is watching people quickly die while learning how to beat him.
In a multiplayer game, all weapons and found items are shared between players, and all too many of my co-op "partners" encountered online either didn't understand this or didn't care. In one four-player match I got into, one of our teammates would constantly wait until we were engaged in combat before looting the entire room, leaving the rest of us low on precious supplies. If you're feeling more team-oriented, you can drop anything you're carrying for other players to pick up. Once the difficulty picks up, you'll want everyone to be well-supplied.
Curiously, when multiple players encounter the store, everybody must wait their turn, which brings the pacing down to a screeching halt, especially on later levels. The end-of-level puzzle cannot be solved cooperatively, and once a player engages the puzzle nobody else can try their hand at it. Even worse, it seems that the player who starts the puzzle MUST finish it, even if they back out and decide to explore further. Rounding out the badness is the fact that if a player dies, they drop most of their inventory at the spot of their death. Though the items are recoverable, this becomes incredibly frustrating if one player was carrying a key.
So, despite the litany of caveats I've spelled out above, Book of Memories DOES get more enjoyable in co-op for a couple reasons. First, with the exception of Guardian battles, death simply means respawning at the beginning of a level. No more loading screens! Second, a good group of players who understand the limitations of the inventory system really does make the game easier, and those damned Combustible Pyramid Heads no longer mean nearly instant death.
As a Silent Hill title, Book of Memories doesn't really hold up. In some ways, it feels like the answer to a question nobody asked. In any case, I know I've never wondered how an isometric action-RPG would fit with the Silent Hill universe. On its own merits, the interesting ideas are overshadowed by too many odd design decisions for me to recommend this one to anyone but the most ardent of fans or people craving a co-op experience on the Vita.
The Co-Op Experience: Four players team up online through the game's campaign. Only the host has their progress saved. Guests bring back experience and items.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.