Siren (サイレン, Sairen), known as Forbidden Siren in Europe and Australia, is a stealth-based survival horror video game developed by Sony Computer Entertainment's Japan Studio for the PlayStation 2 in 2003.
The game follows an episodic structure, gauged by the Link Navigator, which maps out the events chronologically over three days. Each row chronicles a different hour of the day, and each column represents a character. When a cell is highlighted, a scenario may be played using that character. Some entries are not playable scenarios, only being cutscenes and for this, several characters are not playable. At the start
of the game, the player has no control over which scenario to play as the game chooses automatically until a certain point is reached. After this, the player may choose freely.
Gameplay involves controlling a character to meet a known objective stated before play begins. This objective is commonly to reach a certain exit but can be a variety of things such as collecting a certain item or defeating a certain enemy. Moving is limited to running and walking, the latter of which is to reduce footstep noise. The character may or may not be accompanied by an NPC, it is dependant on the scenario. The mission fails if your character is killed or the NPC is killed, at which the player may continue from the last checkpoint or restart the level.
To interact with the environment, players must bring up a seperate sub-menu that contains context-sensitive actions such as 'Open door' or 'Pick up', though the option to 'Shout' is always available (to distract Shibito). The player may also examine any area using the action button, which may lead to the character commenting. Players can also crouch at anytime and can also walk while crouching, but very slowly. Every character is also equipped with a flashlight (unless the scenario is during daylight conditions) to see in the darkness, and to examine certain objects.
Although stealth is heavily encouraged, a weapon system is implemented. Characters may begin a scenario with a weapon, obtain one during a scenario or lack one throughout. Players may use a quick attack of low power or a slightly longer 'charged' attack with higher power if using melee weapons. Some firearms are used too but only limited to pistols and rifles. Pistols hold varying amounts of ammunition but are usually very powerful. Rifles have lower ammo capacity but have an automatic zoom function for long distance firing. Ammo in the levels is extremely limited, encouraging the player to utilise stealth before weapons.
A unique feature in the game is the ability to 'Sightjack', in which a character can see through the perspective of nearby humans, including the Shibito. Sightjacking requires pressing a button and the screen becomes filled with static, requiring the player to use the analog stick as a tuning dial, until a clear view is achieved. Once locked into a perspective, the player may fix that perspective to one of the face buttons to avoid having to retune to it afterwards. The player can keep up to four different perspectives at one time. The aural and visual quality of the perpective depends upon the distance of the target, with the closer the target, the clearer the signal. While sightjacking, the character cannot move and is thus, vulnerable.
The in-game map displays the surrounding area and the player's directional orientation, though it does not indicate the player's current location (only the start and end points). Instead, the player has to distinguish where he is by orienting himself with certain landmarks on the map.
There are also miscellaneous items scattered throughout each scenario that give the player further insight into the story's background. Once obtained, these items are placed into a catalog called Archives and can be viewed at any time during the game.
Main article: Shibito
The enemies of the game are the Shibito, undead subordinates who roam Hanuda, constructing a Nest for the corporeal form of Datatsushi when he is summoned. Shibito are basically humans who have been exposed to large amount of red water, which regenerates damaged tissue and heals injury, but to the point where their blood has been replaced with it. This gives their skin a very swollen, bluish hue due to their watery exposure and their eyes are characteristically crying blood. The Shibito can never be truly defeated, only rendered unconscious temporarily after sustaining a certain amount of damage.
They are sensitive to sound and will investigate suspicious sounds or footsteps. Once spotted, the Shibito will shout to attract other Shibito's attention and pursue the player, attempting to kill them either with a weapon or by strangulation. Most Shibito patrol on foot, but some are stationary and scan their surroundings with rifles like snipers. After a certain point in the game, other variants of Shibito will appear which are much less human and have varying strengths and weaknesses.
The siren of the title is the call of Datatsushi, summoning the residents of Hanuda to immerse themselves in the red water, thus creating an army of subordinates called shibito (屍人 shibito?, lit. "corpse people"). The shibito then go about building a nest to house the corporeal form of Datatsushi once it is summoned, as well as killing and converting any living humans left in Hanuda. The story is told through the perspectives of ten survivors, some of whom are natives of Hanuda, and is presented out of chronological order over the three days in which the mystery takes place.
Before the incident
Siren is set in a remote, rural Japanese mountain village named Hanuda (羽生蛇村 Hanyūda-mura), which is described as being very traditional and particularly xenophobic.
Kyoya, a highschool student interested in the paranormal arrived to Hanuda on his bike to investigate about a mass murder that happened many years ago, but his bike broke once he arrived. He then wandered the woods aimlessly, finding Miyako Kajiro, who was smashing Datatsushi's head. As night fell, he stumbled upon a ceremony.
However, Jun Kajiro, who was in charge of the ritual saw him and Kyoya fled the scene, only for a drunken police officer (Tetsuo Ishida) to confront him, attempting to shoot him. In panic, Kyoya jumped into a car and mowed Tetsuo down, killing him. An earthquake broke out, and a siren rang through the night. The officer revived as a Shibito and shot Kyoya off the cliff.
Following the interruption of a ritual ceremony in the forest near midnight and a subsequent earthquake, the village teeters wildly between time and space, with an infinite sea of blood-red water in place of the usual surrounding mountains, the survivors fell unconscious for several hours.
Kyoya wakes up finding Hisako Yao who took him to the Irazu Valley church in Karuwari. Once there he hears screams and goes out to investigate, he finds Miyako again and accompanied her after she wished to evade her brother Jun. They both hid in the Tabori settlement (an abandoned house) during the night.
In the Hanuda elementary school, a young Teacher (Reiko Takato) and her student (Harumi Yomoda) are trapped, waiting for the principal (Eiji Nagoshi) to rescue them, but they find out that he has been killed and transformed into a Shibito, eventually they escape to Karuwari and stay there until the night.
Tamon Takeuchi (A folklore teacher from Tokyo university) and Yoriko Anno (one of his students who came to Hanuda with him) wake up and find that the town's people are now undead, Tamon tells Yoriko to stay in the place and don't move until he comes back and then goes to investigate. While he is out, Yoriko gets attacked by shibito and she runs off, but luckily she is saved by Akira Shimura (a local hunter who lost his family in a landslide 30 years ago), but Akira kills himself, leaving Yoriko alone and scared until Tamon shows up later that night.
Shiro Miyata (Head of the Miyata clinic) wakes up in the middle of the woods in front of an empty grave, the grave he himself dug in order to bury the body of Mina Onda, his fiancée whom he himself killed after finding out she was pregnant, he manages to escape the forest and reach the town, where he finds Risa Onda, Mina's twin sister, who came to Hanuda looking for Mina. He then takes her to the Miyata clinic.
Kei Makino (the local priest) was present during the ritual but got separated from the group, eventually he found Tomoko Maeda, a local student that ran out from home after a discussion with her parents, he accompanied her trying to take her back to town with her parents, but they got separated. Tomoko stayed hiding in the shrine while Kei reached the Miyata clinic where he met up with Shiro and Risa.
Tomoko eventually runs out from the shrine she was hidding and finds Hisako Yao, who also went out from the church to search for her when Tomoko's parents appeared in the church looking for her. However, on their way back to the church, Hisako remembers his mission and sends Tomoko into the Tabori house, where she is attacked and presumably killed. After that, she wanders through Karuwari until she arrives to the Irazu valley church, where she rencounters her parents, but she has become a shibito and scares her parents, saddened she runs off, however her parents soon go out to search for her, being eventually killed as well.
Meanwhile during the night in the Miyata clinic, Risa, who went out alone looking for Mina is attacked by her, she manages to escape and get help from Shiro and Kei, however, during their fight against Mina, Shiro runs out behind her trying to hunt her down, Mina manages to evade Shiro and attack Risa and Kei. After knocking Kei unconscious, she takes control of Risa's mind and dresses her as herself. Shiro, kills Risa and after finding the Miyako Kajiro from 1976 trapped in the secret basement of the Miyata clinic and recovering the Uryens from her, takes both Risa and Mina to do some experiments.
On Karuwari, Reiko Takato and Harumi hide on a shaft until they hear noises, they notice that the Shibito are gathering materials to build some kind of structure. While there, Reiko lights some lights that free the Kiruden (a mystical force contrary to Datatsushi that will help the survivors later).
Hearing the approaching shibito, Reiko tells Harumi to hide on a cart, but a shibito takes it and before they can discover Harumi, Reiko sacrifices herself giving Harumi time to escape, Harumi wanders alone and enters the Tabori house, where she hids inside a closet.
During the night Miyako mingled her blood with Kyoya's via their palms. Shibito invaded the home shortly after so the pair escaped, eventually reaching Janokubi Valley, there Jun appeared and shot Kyoya off a cliff. Hisako, having remembered her real purpose, arrived on the scene and abducted Miyako, who takes her to the nest (a special place the shibito are building to receive their god Datatsushi).
Yoriko is shot by someone and Tamon runs off trying to hunt down their attacker, who turns out to be the reanimated Akira Shimura, a friend of Tamon's parents, Tamon hunts him down, however when he returns with Yoriko, she is not there anymore, and goes serching for her.
Kyoya fell unconscious and was recovered by Shiro, along with Yoriko. Transfusing Kyoya's blood into Yoriko's body and thus preventing her into turning into a shibito. After that, they both exit the hospital and head to the nest, in order to rescue Miyao and prevent the ritual to take place. Shortly after, Tamon arrives the clinic looking for Yoriko, but she had already left, he finds her glasses and then heads for the nest as well.
Harumi hidding in a closet within the Tabori house wakes up hearing some laughs, but when he peeks out of the wardrove she finds out the Maeda family, now as shibitos. She exits the house only to encounter her teacher Reiko now as a shibito as well, she manages to escape from them all and indirectly enters the shibito nest, where she wanders unnoticed.
Kyoya and Yoriko entered the Nest and reached the core where Hisako Yao performs the ritual and Datatsushi is reborn. During its ressurection, Kei Makino and Tamon Takeuchi arrive, but the structure collapses and they are all separated. Kyoya, Tamon and Kei fell in the same place, Kyoya and Tamon team up in order to fight Datatsushi but left Kei behind due to him being unconscious.
Kei eventually wakes up and finds Shiro, who also entered the shibito nest. Shiro kills Kei and takes his clothes, impersonating him, then he encounters Kyoya and gives him one of the Uryen. After that he exists the nest.
Shiro goes to Harayadori where he recovers some explosives that were hidden within a well then he goes to the Gojaku peak and uses the explosives to blow up the dam that keeped the Mana river controled, with the dam being destroyed, the river floods Hanuda and destroys the shibito nest.
Shiro then encounters the fallen shibito, the reanimated corpses of the villagers from 1976, he uses the Uryen to free them and then he sacrifices himself, reuniting with Mina and Risa.
Within the nest, the flood that Shiro causes destroys the structure and the light of the sun kills Datatsushi, however he is not defeated yet. The flood takes Kyoya to the Mana pool (the place where Miyako was sacrificed) and there Miyako guides Kyoya to the Inferno (The alternate dimension where Datatsushi's spirit dwells).
There Hisako returns him to live, but Kyoya, using the Uryen and the Homuranagi (the Kajiro family's sword) embedden with the power of the Kiruden, manages to decapitate Datatsushi, causing a collapse in the space-time and returning to the alternate dimension of Hanuda.
The time and space begin to tumble after Datatsushi's dead, during the tremors Harumi gets attacked by the school director Eiji Nagoshi, but Reiko Takato saves her, falling with Eiji into a pit, after that Harumi falls unconscious, later she wanders through the streets and gets rescued by Takeaki Misawa, a member of the Japanese self defence force on rescue mission in Hanuda.
Tamon, still in the remains of the shibito nest gets his way to the Takeuchi house, where he encounters his parents, now failed shibito that escaped Shiro's purgation. Tamon due to his contact with the red water had already start becoming a shibito and sees them as the persons they once were. They stay there cuddling until Yoriko appears, apparently saving Tamon and taking him with her.
Kyoya, due to his exposure to the Red Water is unnable to return to the real world; he stays in Hanuda, using the Uryen to slay the remnants of the shibito that he encounters. Ironically, Kyoya was the perpetrator who massacred the villagers in the legend that brought him to Hanuda in the first place.
At the end credits, Kyoya is alone, wandering the desolate village, trapped in the underworld.
Rather than employ traditional facial animation methods with polygonal transformation, images of real human faces were captured from eight different angles and superimposed onto the character models. This eerie effect is similar to projecting film onto the blank face of a mannequin, a technique used to animate a severed head in Disney's Haunted Mansion attraction.
Silent Hill connection
The most notable aspect of Siren's development is that it was co-conceived and directed by Keiichirō Toyama, who had previously directed the original Silent Hill. Other former members of Team Silent, Naoko Satō and Isao Takahashi, also had critical roles in Siren's creation.