The lights are on
Hello fellow survival horror friends and junkies, I'm going to be going out on a limb here and voicing my own modest opinion of the latest installment of the Silent Hill series: Silent Hill Downpour. I beat the game for the first time at around midnight last night and here are my thoughts.
Silent Hill Downpour begins with our incarcerated protagonist Murphy Pendleton as he is being transferred to another prison facility via a bus that ends up crashing by fault of the distracted driver. From there, you stumble upon a rest stop named the Devil's Pit-stop. I won't go too much further into the story as it is one that should not be spoiled for anyone. The story is compelling from start to finish, and will leave fans satisfied. From the first couple of opening sequences and cut-scenes, it is made obvious from the beginning that Downpour is continuing the tradition of a protagonist with a checkered past that is revealed slowly through the course of the game by various flashbacks that give insight on Murphy's descent into madness. As with previous installments, Downpour focuses on puzzle solving and town exploration in order to escape from Silent Hill. Let's get on with the scoring.
7.0 out of 10
While Silent Hill Downpour's graphics do very efficiently to capture the gritty and haunting feel of the town of Silent Hill, many textures are visually unimpressive and facial animation feels stiff, although the character models are majorly improved from past installments. The monsters start to feel repetitive after a while due to the fact that you see the same exact shrieking lady about every 5 minutes. Despite the graphical and visual issues, the graphics offer a lot of haunting effects that do very well. The best example of this are the Otherworld sequences that often display many forms of hellish objects and structures.
8.50 out of 10
The sound is probably one of the best parts of this game. Daniel Licht does a superb job of replacing Akira Yamoaka as a composer, his various melodies ranging from downright chilling to emotional pieces. While Murphy's voice actor does a pretty good job compared to other protagonists of the series, the voice acting of a few of the supporting characters (with the exception of DJ Ricks and a few others) leaves a lot to be desired. If you don't have surround sound for this game, I suggest at least turning your T.V., monitor, etc. up loud in order to be fully immersed in the sound, which offers a lot of creepy mediums in the form of whispers and banging noises that added to the overall dark tone of the game and add a feeling of suspense.
7.75 out of 10
I won't lie to anyone. The gameplay in Silent Hill Downpour is probably one of the main weaknesses of the game. As many have probably already read, the combat is mostly divided into two ideas. Fight or flight. There is even an achievement for beating the entire game without killing a monster (Good god!). Even the strongest weapons break after one or two fights, although there are plenty of other weapons lying so that you only rarely feeling panic when your current one breaks. Once you get a hang of the random swinging combat, it's easy to defeat enemies if you recognize their attack patterns. The strongest aspect of the game, however, lies in the puzzle solving. A few of the puzzles offer little to no hints or involve guessing a code completely at random which leads to slight frustration, but the majority of puzzles are rewarding mind benders that give an immense feeling of satisfaction upon completion. Another main part of the gameplay is the town exploration. Many hours were spent in my first playthrough checking just about every open building I could find, each one usually offering some sort of mystery to solve in order to do side missions, which involve many hours of backtracking or wandering in circles in order to use an item you found to complete a mission. This usually is not that big of a deal, but those looking to soak up every detail of the town have many hours of wandering to do. I loved exploring, but those with little patience will not.
8.0 out of 10
The atmosphere is also a strong point in the game, focusing on many aspects that made the old games great. Fog covers just about every inch of the town itself (except for a section near the beginning that is a sunny "park" attraction until you reach the caves.), but the worn down buildings and set pieces offer a lot to the senses. Overall, it is not as on par as the older games in terms of originality, but I found myself immersed regardless.
8.25 out of 10
After a few hours into the game, it is made quite apparent that there is a lot to explore in the town of Silent Hill. Many open buildings are scattered around the town that even I wasn't able to find my first time around. Hardcore fans will relish peeking under every box and flushing every interactive toilet in order to find answers to the many mysteries in the game. That being said, those who only want to beat the game to see the different endings might be slightly underwhelmed due to the fact that there were only two parts in the game where I could even make a choice based on "good" or "bad" outcomes that both ended the same no matter which option you pick. There is plenty to do here, however, and I am already eagerly working on my next playthrough.
8.5 out of 10
The Silent Hill series has been on a major downward spiral (according to some) after Silent Hill 4. This game is a return to the creepy, story-compelled atmosphere that made the old games great. Those who loved the old games will find closure with this game, but those who never cared much for the games to begin with may not find much reason to play. I am still captivated by the game's undeniable charm despite all the flaws, and I look forward to any new games that Vatra Games have in store for us.
Now this is a good review. Read mine please!