The Good: Decent graphics, dungeon crawler idea is fun, great co-op, fun boss fights, lots of nods to past games
The Bad: Uninteresting story, every level is laid out the same, the same three puzzles repeat often, stiff and boring combat, unbalanced difficulty, only playable in co-op
Silent Hill has had a rough path, and I thought Book of Memories would change this. The game seems really great at first, and I like the idea of the series branching off for the first time to a different genre. The dungeon crawling path works well for the series, but it is poorly executed here. The first few levels are fun, but later on they repeat the same way over and over again. The game doesn't feel much like Silent Hill at all except visually, and I promise you there isn't a single scare in the whole game.
The story is paper thin in which a man or woman (you get to create a character with a very weak customizer) that gets a strange book for their birthday from the mailman seen in (the last terrible game) Downpour. It is full of memories and you decide to go inside and change them. That is pretty much it. Story is barely delivered through notes and scattered audio clips. Silent Hill is known for good stories that are at least confusing, but not boring. This one is boring and uninteresting.
The game has a top down perspective and you run around levels opening rooms and completing challenges to find puzzle pieces. Silent Hill is known for puzzles, but these are pretty lame (more on that later). You are safe in hallways and each room is random. That is probably the most fun part about this game: What's in the next room? Some need keys to open which are found in red highlighted objects. When your flashlight is on these objects you can search through are highlighted and they contain things like ammo, medkits, weapons, keys, and repair tools.
The whole point of the game is to run around smacking down everything in sight, but this is where the game mainly fails. The weapons are nods to pretty much everything seen in past game like the steel pipe, wood plank, fire axe, revolver, sledgehammer, and a few original weapons. The issue here is that they can break very quickly. This made the game extremely tough because enemies are really hard to take down. Even after leveling myself up a lot I never did much damage. Using repair tools can come in handy, but they are hard to find and you can't hold many of them. You can once you upgrade your backpack more, but this requires a lot of memory residue which is also hard to come by. Saving up this currency is even tough because you will be spending it on medkits and repair tools 90% of the time. See what I mean? This is all a vicious cycle that never ends.
There are RPG elements that allow you to equip relics which increase stats. Leveling up takes forever and doesn't seem to do any good. The combat itself is boring and stiff. You just mash an attack button until everything dies. The lock-on button is handy for ranged weapons, but blocking didn't really do much good for me. I felt the combat system should be more refined and intuitive for a dungeon crawler. Maybe add some spell casting? I can't tell you how tired I was of the game by Zone 11, I just called it quits. One redeeming quality to the combat are the fun boss fights every three zones. You have to use strategy and discover their weakness, but why can't regular enemies be like this? Most enemies are ones from previous games and very few are new. I just felt the developers didn't know what direction to go in, Silent Hill survival horror or dungeon crawler.
It really shows in all the flaws in the game. The puzzles are the same three that repeat over and over. Event rooms are confusing with zero clues on what to do. Even the karma bar seems useless because picking up enemies' blood (depending on whether they are light, blood, or steel) will move your karma bar around. Seems pretty pointless actually. The only way to really enjoy this game is co-op with up to four players because the game is really hard. Not to mention the fact that if you die before saving at the one save spot in each level you have to do it all over again, not fun.
Book of Memories has some nice graphics for the Vita, nothing special though. There are no scares to be had and the same track loops over and over again. The story is uninteresting, the character creator is weak, the combat difficulty is all over the place, the combat system is boring and stiff, and many other elements wrapped in the game just feel wrong and half-baked. I love the idea of a dungeon crawler in this series, but please pick one side or the other. Also, make it scary next time.