The new PS Plus is here and it has a real gem of a horror game waiting for you.

PS Plus now offers three subscription levels: Essential, Extra and Premium. The latter comes with all the perks you could ask for and is the most expensive of the bunch. One such perk is cloud streaming access to a whole horde of OG PlayStation, PS2, PS3, PS4, and PSP games.

Nestled among the PS2 titles is Siren. Or forbidden siren, depending on the region you are in. Released in 2003, some of you will surely have fallen asleep on this one. Because you were napping in a crib somewhere or standing in line at the sperm checkout line. But now's your chance to catch up with the rest of us, for less than €20 a month.

What is Mermaid talking about?

You know things are going to get weird when Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama gets involved. Toyama was in charge of Siren as director, as well as co-writing the game along with fellow Silent Hill alumnus Naoko Sato.

Exploring themes of isolation and unrest, Siren knocked it out of the park in terms of story and oppressive atmosphere. But it wasn't just the setting, the game mechanics make for an incredibly stressful horror game.

When Siren opens, you find yourself in a village deep in a Japanese mountain range. Already isolated, the town has been made even more isolated by a strange moat of blood-red water. Stuck on the wrong side of the water, you're stuck in the small town with locals who have reacted to these difficult times by becoming incredibly hostile towards anyone who isn't "one of us". If the strange bloodwater wasn't enough, the villagers have been infected with a mysterious plague that has the added effect of making them look and sound creepy. It is better to sneak into the game than to face the townspeople.

Similar to the vast cast of characters from Until Dawn, Siren is packed with a roster of familiar faces you'll meet throughout the game, many of whom won't make it to the end credits. One mechanic that set Siren apart from other games at the time was its "butterfly effect" system, where your actions in one section of the game could trigger actions and objectives in different parts of the village.

On the other hand, get ready for a lot of escort missions. I remember trolling a lot of NPCs, which is basically an eyesore in itself, regardless of what genre it appears in.

Sight Jacking is another mechanic that seems to have divided fans, possibly not offering enough to justify its presence. It allows you to divert the viewpoint of the surrounding villagers so that you can open a safe path. Get ready for a lot of heavy wheezing as you slip behind the bleeding eyeballs of the locals.

Silent Hill creators explain why Siren is so scary

Both Keiichiro Toyama and Naoko Sato discussed Siren and how their work on Silent Hill influenced its development.

In an interview with Siren Maniacs (via FFTranslations (opens in a new tab)), Sato tells how, while working on Silent Hill, he was already thinking about his next horror adventure that would take place a little closer to home. The Silent Hill setting was cause for doubt; Sato says that he was often plagued by nagging thoughts about fine tuning, being a native Japanese.

The prospect of transitioning to Japan opened up the possibility of exploring the country's horror mythology and attitudes around it, while also making the mundane and everyday aspects much more realistic.

Sato and I (and probably many of you) are on the same page when it comes to the horror genre; Japanese horror soils its pants in a way that its Western counterpart certainly doesn't.

“I… wanted to base [Siren] on the darkness of the country, which most Japanese people feel physically, with its humid climate, a kind of discomfort that is difficult to explain,” explains Nato.

“I have always firmly believed that the true horror lies in Japanese terror. For example, the baby monsters in Silent Hill were designed by me, but what I envisioned when creating things like her moves was Sadako from the movie 'The Ring'. «

On the different ways cultures deal with horror, NATO says: "It may be due to a difference in mindset, but abroad, especially in the United States, there seems to be a lot more fear coming from physical injury. However, it seems to me that the Japanese The idea of ​​horror is mainly the genre that haunts you mentally, that kind of helpless despair.

If you've dabbled in the terrifying variety of horror films in Japanese cinema, you'll know very well what NATO is all about. Think how in Ring, where viewers of a cursed video only have seven days to live after viewing it, it's not the violent death at the end of the seven days that's the real horror, but the time between the two where the victim is preyed upon. from their impotence they must escape from their destiny.

(Image credit: Game UI Database)

Siren: Blood Curse "reimagined" on PS3 (also on PS Plus Premium) introduced a bunch of new features based on the original PS2 game, which Toyama explains in an interesting interview on the PlayStation Blog (opens in a new tab) .

The addition of the Western characters, for example, was a new development designed to reinforce "feelings of isolation and fear." Toyama adds that it also gives Western players characters that are "more relatable." Not to mention the "inevitable communication problems" that amplify "the frustration that the various characters feel with their situation."

The revamp also saw a new episodic structure which was a big deal at the time. In addition to making it more manageable to follow, with its TV-like structure, Toyama explains that the story department had to be further developed, which bolstered the quality of the final product.

Sight Jacking has had a split-screen makeover, with players still able to move while head-butting undead villagers. A very useful decision that eased some of the OG siren's frustrations. Difficulty was definitely a bone of contention with Siren, so think of Blood Curse as the revamp that removes most of those concerns.

Sell ​​yourself on Siren

Of course, being a PS2/PS3 era game, Siren is going to look pretty wacky. And the voice acting isn't stellar, as evidenced by the brief gameplay video above. But his selling point is really his J-horror roots. It was a really scary thing back in the day, and while it may seem old-fashioned, it's worth checking out if that's your jam.

Toyama mentions this when talking about what Siren offers that Silent Hill and Resident Evil don't.

"Two things Siren Blood Curse offers that these titles don't are a sense of horror made possible in a Japanese setting, and the human drama created from the interactions of the various characters...

"Interest in J-Horror fueled by the success of Hollywood remakes like 'The Ring' and 'The Grudge' has helped lower the barrier to reach the West with horror games like Siren that are based on a Japanese setting" .

As long as you know you're about to take an eye assault that goes back a generation or so, Siren is well worth your time. He broke new ground in terms of mechanics and gameplay, with some of those features, like branches of your choosing that affect the fate of characters, carrying over into titles like Until Dawn and Alan Wake.

I'd probably skip straight to Blood Curse, which was the leading next-gen horror game at the time, if you want a more polished experience. But Siren is a historical slice of J-horror at its finest, and you really shouldn't miss it.

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