Forbidden Siren, a stealthy horror game part of the Siren franchise, was a title that flew under the radar a little when it was initially released back in the early 2000s, especially since it had competition in the PS2 survival horror department with Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and Clocktower. It was recently re-released with trophy support and a somewhat updated coat of paint on the PlayStation 4 store on the 14th of June.
Having played the episodic Siren: Blood Curse game (which serves as a sequel to Forbidden Siren), there was a vague idea about what to expect from the original title of the series. Set in the remote, isolated village of Hanuda in Japan, it follows ten different characters that the player can control. These unfortunate souls are caught in the middle of a mystical cataclysm after an interrupted ritual in Hanuda results in numerous natural disasters.
The namesake “siren” comes from the name of a special kind of summoning of an extraterrestrial known only as Datatsushi, which beckons the traditional residents of Hanuda to immerse themselves in blood-red water. This results in the residents becoming shibito, also known as ‘corpse people’. These unnerving shibito play a key antagonistic of Hanuda role in the game for the player, whose job it is to investigate the strange ritualistic occurrences and uncover the mysteries behind it.
The game itself takes place over the course of three days, where the player must use their wits to avoid becoming one of the shibito themselves. Forbidden Siren is set up into ten different stages; in order to complete a stage, the player must accomplish the primary goal of that particular level. This is pretty simple, as it usually involves simply reaching the end of the level, or finding a particular item. Forbidden Siren also incorporates a butterfly effect, where the actions of one character in one particular stage has the ability to affect another in a future stage.
Forbidden Siren is a severely underrated game, and definitely worth a pick up if you’re a fan of the horror/mystery genre and you missed it upon its initial release. The story has a tendency to come across as somewhat convoluted and difficult understand completely. This does not deter from the enjoyment of the atmosphere, the unique gameplay mechanics, and the overall experience it has to offer however.