How can I be so terrified by a game in which one of the enemies looks like she fell face-first into a platter of cocktail shrimp? In which all of the horrific mangling comes at the hands of the English (and I mean proper tea-and-crumpets English) dub? In which another enemy is the spitting image of the Hamburglar? In which, I must admit, I had absolutely no fun at all?
And there it is. Being scared isn’t fun, just like having fun isn’t scary. Some people seem to think I’ll receive prurient pleasure from seeing entrails exposed or topless women’s heads explode, but those kinds of things tend to be neither frightening nor pleasurable. But I’m starting to repeat myself.
The other day, I was helping to babysit an 8-year-old girl who wanted to be scared. So I showed her Siren. Specifically, I played the part where Harumi and Mrs. Takato are trying to escape the elementary school. I died maybe twenty times, sometimes within a few seconds, sometimes after fifteen minutes of cautious stealth. Most kids watching most games would have gotten bored by the first restart, but this one was utterly engrossed, shouting out instructions, gasping, and squealing (though she claimed not to have been scared). So was I, for that matter.
I wrote a review of Siren–one of my last columns for Innsmouth Free Press–but I think that anecdote says everything you need to know about the game. If you want more, here’s a sample of the review:
In XX prefecture, there are tales of a village lost in time. A village buried by a landslide 27 years ago, yet somehow still present on the outskirts of our reality. A village that still observes forgotten rituals, warped horrifically by intrusions from outside cultures. A village surrounded on all sides by life-giving red water, where a ghostly figure wanders the fog, endlessly reliving a senseless massacre of the past.
What madness possesses people in a life-or-death horror scenario to put themselves further at risk just to muck about with a face towel?
Read the full review here.